The New Rules For Moving Up: Design Yourself a Career Lattice – The Worth Project

by admin

Before I read the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, I had no idea what design thinking was or how to apply it to my working life. In a nutshell, design thinking means that you’re reframing problems to be action-oriented, creating a number of solutions, and testing them out to see what works.

By using design thinking you’re embracing the fact that you and your career will grow and change over time, and you’re letting yourself explore that process. Rather than just taking a linear step forward in your career (hi, ladder), you’re asking yourself what you like or dislike and prototyping different solutions to move you in the direction you choose (the lattice).

While the book walks through excellent frameworks for how to bring design thinking into all aspects of your life, a crucial concept that stuck with me is to pay very close attention to the parts of my job that I really enjoy and that give me energy as well as the parts of my job that frustrate and zap my energy. By becoming really mindful of what you like and don’t like, you’re picking up on breadcrumbs that are being left for you to help shape your career and build your lattice.

Careers are highly adaptable, but in order to create the next step in your career, it’s imperative to be tuned into the nuances of what you love and what you don’t, so you can take the next step forward (or to the right, left, or down).

Develop Your Own Training Plan

Developing your own lattice means taking control of your skills development, rather than staying on the training plan created by your company. If your company does offer training programs or classes, you should definitely take advantage of them, but don’t let that be your only source of education. Most of the training that companies offer help you to become a better employee and succeed on the path that you’re on. These training programs are usually very specific to a ladder and don’t help you carve out a path on the lattice.

If you want to carve out your own career lattice and gain the skills and confidence to make your next move, think outside of what your current job responsibilities are and gain skills in areas that interest you, rather than just in areas that will help further your current career path.

For example, if you’re in a more traditional marketing role (such as brand management), try taking an SEO or design course. Love the limited writing that you currently do with your job? Take a copywriting class. 

You may not love what you’re learning and that’s ok. You’ve taken the time to realize that skill isn’t the next step in the path you’re creating. And if you do love it? Well, then…

Act and Ask

While the first two ways to build your career lattice involve personal introspection and training, there is only so much that can be done in a silo. Once you’ve decided what you’d like more of in your work or you’ve developed new skills that you’d like to put to use in your current job, it’s time to act in the way you want to be seen and ask for opportunities.

Acting the way you want to be seen isn’t difficult, but it does take a conscious effort on your part to make sure you’re portraying the image or the expertise you want others to see. Be engaged and offer your opinion when the subject comes up. If the subject doesn’t come up, bring it up, and then offer up your knowledge. Don’t let your new knowledge, skills, or interest stay hidden. Offer your expertise and people will start to think of you in relation to whatever it is you want to pursue.

Just like with anything else, if you want to put these newfound skills to use, you need to ask for the opportunities. Again, let’s say you’re interested in trying out some SEO work. Take a look at your company’s website and see if there’s any way you might be able to add value. Once you identify a small project you can take on, ask to do the project by positioning it as an easy win for your company. If you’re interested in learning & development, pitch a speaker series or ask to host a lunch and learn for the department. When you ask to take this on, make the benefit clear to the company so you’ll get an easy yes.

For example, “I noticed we didn’t have any training programs around (insert topic of choice here). I think it would really benefit the team if we learned more about this and how we can use it in our work/for our clients/on our teams, etc. I’ve started outlining a training program and I’m happy to take this on as a project because I feel really passionate about how this will impact our business. Would you support that?”

And just like that, you’ve started to test out the next step on your lattice.

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