Design Management Toolbox: Non-Linear Business Development | by Janko Jovanovic | November, 2022

Coaching and career development approaches that help build flexibility in career paths

non-linear business development

Do you feel overwhelmed by the complexity that has clearly manifested over the years? Multiple convergence crises keep us all on our toes and many of us on edge. In the business world, companies are undergoing restructuring, downsizing and sometimes disappearing altogether. Markets are shifting rapidly. People are leaving en masse. Internal dynamics change quickly and often. Things are unpredictable, and the maps we use to help orient us are no longer accurate. The landscape has changed. Linear thinking is not useful in new, unfamiliar terrain.

How do you plan your career in such circumstances? How do you navigate this kind of complexity? And, as a manager, how do you help individuals on your teams stay alert and flourish?

i want to share something practical tools That I used to facilitate professional development conversations and with which I had really good results. I won’t go into a deep debate about professional development or resilience. We’ll leave that for some more time and here I want to focus on something actionable.

It is worth noting that the tools below are primarily strategic tools, used in a variety of contexts and situations, such as planning policies and strategies. They have been repurposed here for the sole goal of helping with professional development. If you would like to talk more about Futures Thinking, Strategic Foresight or Systems Thinking and Systems Design – and how these approaches can be used in both commercial and non-commercial contexts – reach out to ben lowden either Me, We’ve done some interesting work over the years.

this approach . derived from the concepts of Variation and Redundancy They are used to deal with uncertainty in complex systems such as food production, the economy or the human body.

Redundancy, or the presence of multiple components that may perform the same or similar functions, can provide ‘insurance’ within a system by allowing some components to compensate for the loss or failure of others. Variation means that the components of a system can have different responses to changes or shocks.

How does this translate into career growth? It simply means deliberately planning and maintaining various options to respond to change and deal with uncertainty. Not to put your eggs in one basket, but it’s a little more than that. The main principle of this approach is to define multiple goals/paths related to a common theme, or your report “North Star”. This means that whatever path they choose, it will get them closer to their desired outcome.

Sometimes people have their north star somewhat defined, for example by “becoming a leader,” so you can start there and define the ways in which leadership can be put into practice. Other times, people don’t have a single North Star, but they do have some ideas they want to explore. In this case, start with defining possible paths and then synthesize them into a common theme. Let’s use the same leadership example. How does one become a leader? Should it be through a management role? Coaching, mentoring, project leadership, presenting and facilitating can all be good avenues for a leadership role.

Here’s an example. I was working closely with a report, a very senior designer, who was considering becoming a manager. But at that time the chances of becoming a manager were very low due to many factors over which we had no control. So we returned to the core values ​​of our report, and talked about one in particular: “Helping Others Succeed”. So what are the ways in which this can be achieved? Does it need to be done through a management role? No, not at all, we both agreed. They can help others by coaching, mentoring, teaching, facilitating work or discussion, leading others on a project, and more. So we didn’t define North Star as “becoming a good leader”, and defined a number of paths and goals, where each path would lead them to a leadership role, while simultaneously preparing them to be a competent manager. . He was relatively soon recognized as a leader and people looked up to him. As a good “side effect”, he was promoted to a lead designer, officially acknowledging his good leadership. He dropped the idea of ​​becoming a manager for a while and continued to explore several avenues.

It is important to write these things down. Here’s what the “canvas” might look like.

Many paths lead to the canvas
multiple paths Approach

Stoic philosophy is at the core of concept of controlThat is, what. ability to differentiate between Is What else Not there under our control. Then we pay close attention to what is under our control and let go of what is not. Sticking to the things we can’t control is a surefire way to get frustrated.

Distinguishing between internal and external factors is a good start. Generally, we have little control over our promotions or pay raises (external factors), but we have little or no control over building our skill-sets, establishing good relationships with stakeholders, increasing our visibility, or being diligent (internal factors). is controlled.

Now we have some things portion control ends, and many things in life fall into this gray area (to varying degrees). Let your report help you unpack these things into components and sort these components into “control” and “can’t control” buckets.

Stoic Approach Canvas
Moody Approach

When Working on Your Goals, It’s a Good Idea Challenge our beliefs, assumptions and presumptions on which our goals are generally based. This is an important part of non-linear thinking. When we think about our careers (and our futures in general), we think of The present will continue in a linear fashion into the future, But that’s not necessarily how the future will unfold. Furthermore, there is not one future, but several possible futures that could result from multiple threads of possibilities interacting with each other. By exploring those possibilities we can bring them into our awareness and consciously engage with them, effectively becoming more prepared.

The tool below is a tool used by strategists and futurists Explore multiple future scenarios, and we can reuse it to help people explore their professional possibilities more deeply. The model was originally published by Jim Dator in 1979, and has been one of the cornerstones of my work ever since I discovered it. How does this work? A person runs each goal, assumption or core value through 4 scenarios that will lead those goals in various unknown directions. What would they do if each of these four scenarios happened? Just 2 years ago, almost no one was thinking of a pandemic, “keep quiet” or a major war. But 2 years ago there were already some indications, some possibilities for these events.

Once they challenge their assumptions, take insights from scenarios and incorporate them into their career paths. add this information to multiple ways Approach, or the next one we’ll come to in a minute.

In the table below I’ve provided guidance on how to use the tool and some examples.

What-If Approach Canvas
what if Approach

Can you still achieve your goal? How? what would you do if youYou can’t achieve it?

When a person has set their goals, they should develop a plan to achieve those goals. Our natural response is to think linearly from the present day into the future. But as futurists are well aware, it is a better practice to start from a point in the future and work backwards towards the present day, If one wants to become a manager in 1 year, what are the things that should happen 6 months before that so that the target of 1 year can be achieved? Consequently, what must happen 2 months from now to make the 6-month goal achievable? And what do they need to start doing from today so that they can achieve their first 2 months goal?

by dividing people’s distant goals into small and small goals In an opposite direction, it becomes easier to focus on what is relevant and important now (any example now). Using this approach along with the “differentiation” approach can help to manage multiple convergence paths with greater clarity.

important: This table is filled from right to left!

working backwards reaches the canvas
working backwards Approach

As I mentioned in the beginning they are effective tools and in many cases have helped me facilitate interaction with my reports. Your report will need your guidance on using some of these tools, so I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that these tools are not a silver bullet and are one-size-fits-all. Feel free to experiment and see if they work for you and your report. If you use them, I Love to hear from you,

Glory Ben, milikaAnd Malin To exchange views on this article.

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