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Someone wrote that “without execution, vision is just another word for hallucination.” Whether you are planning to run a marathon, take a trip around the world, or advance your career, without execution your plan is only a dream. Once you get started, you need measured objectives and tangible results to keep you on track.
So, how do you make your development plan really happen? Read on and find out how we, at Predica, use the Objective and Key Results (OKR) methodology to help achieve our personal development objectives.
Pick an objective that appeals to you. Ideally, something more concrete than “I want to develop.” Think about what you really want to achieve. Perhaps you want to become a recognized Azure architect or a better leader? This is the essence of all that effort that you are about to expend. Name it. Refer to it in your aspirations, role requirements, future assignments and feedback from your peers. Do not focus solely on your “development gaps” or “areas for improvement”. Elevate your talents! Discuss your thoughts and ideas with your team leader and seek further support and guidance from those around you.
Plan the steps (key results) that lead you to your objective. This will become your to-do list. Take small steps. Keep them precise and tangible. Pick achievements that you can easily grab and show others (Hey, look, I did it!) and check off your list. Use an app to help you to track progress. At Predica we use the 7geese.com platform to manage our OKR. Here is my list of key results to becoming a certified Professional Scrum Master:
Track your progress. Tracking is paramount to reaching your objectives. If you are planning on running a marathon, you can just run a whole lot, or you can use GPS and a heart monitor to push yourself harder and track your distance. The former makes it hard to build confidence; the latter gives you tangible and visible metrics that build your confidence. Be sure to review your key results regularly to track your progress, manage your pace and effort, and seek guidance for your next steps.
This is the way we plan individual development at Predica. But the methodology and tools are worthless without the people for whom personal growth is a top priority. I asked a few of our colleagues to share a few tips of what made them successful:
It comes down to being deliberate about your decision to learn, allocating time for it and sticking to it. Development is always a journey. No one gets it in one shot. And you can’t learn it all. There is too much information and not enough time. Choose a topic and stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Block your calendar for training time and make the effort to learn.
I graduated as a Pharmacist and my hobby eventually led me to the IT industry. I’m a husband and a father of three, but I always find time for what interests me. I always think about how I am going to apply my new skill and knowledge. I test it. Does it work in the way that it was described? This helps me to improve my skills and become a better consultant and project partner.
Time is my most valuable resource. I don’t want to waste it. I need focus, persistence and clarity of what is actually important to me and my work. It is said that a ship will sail to the harbor only if the captain knows where to navigate. When the route is well planned, the faster and safer the journey is. Otherwise, we start to act like a sailing boat directed by random winds on the open waters. We may take the wrong turn, get lost easily and… waste time.
Do not overengineer things. Think big, start small and be agile. Instead of detailed long-term plans (eventually you will change them anyway, so why you should bother?), define milestones, take the first step, see the result and then adjust your next move. Building on previous experience, adding new bricks to an existing structure of knowledge. Learn by doing.
I like what I do. Power BI and Data is my hobby. Learning is fun – I enjoy discovering and expanding my knowledge. But don’t delude yourself, learning is an effort: no pain no gain, and sometimes you must sweat and bleed. Find your training routine. My secret technique is being systematic about everything that I do. I don’t subscribe to intense learning, like a 3-day class course. I take small steps. No matter what, I keep walking.
To finish the rally, you need more than just a map. You need a guide sitting next to you. Support of others – my project team, my colleagues, my leader – is critical. That means, learning new technologies, soft skills, facing challenging tasks, or preparing to for a difficult exam. What helps me grow is guidance, the occasional hint shared over the desk and frequent feedback.
For me, the most essential part is strong execution. Strong execution might mean many things, but for me, it’s pretty straight forward:
Stage 1: Define a destination:
Stage 2: Understand the first step:
Stage 3: Take the first few steps:
Stage 4: Calibrate
When I first started out as a Jr Consultant 13 years ago, I made a plan to start a company that will operate on 3 different continents. Even today this sounds farfetched. It took us thousands of hours and a huge amount of grit, but the most important was that we had gone through all the stages that I listed above.
As a side note, today we operate in Africa, Asia, USA, and Europe.
If you would like to learn more about the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology, take a peek at this short video where Tomek Onyszko takes you through the basics:
You can also find other examples of how to apply OKR in your personal development planning:
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