Drive it : High performance is the new average

The new globalization

In last week's column Why change can slap you in the face and blind-side your career we discussed the two main factors that are changing the world: Globalization and the rate of change - speed.

It's important to note this is not your father's globalization. It's not even the globalization you knew 10 years ago. Globalization has evolved from trade of goods into a highly elaborate interdependence that includes the trade and exchange of knowledge, ideas, and information. In this new world professionals and knowledge workers compete with little barriers across the globe. It's a game changer for both individuals and organizations.

This new world has created an unprecedented level of competition that was intensified by the shrinking markets brought on by the great recession. The combination of global competition and shrinking markets triggered the need for innovation at a speed the world had not experienced before.

Now, before we continue, let's pause to clarify the often confused term innovation. Creativity is not innovation. Something new is not innovation. Both are required to achieve innovation, but they are not innovation.

Innovation requires a strong base of knowledge. Depth in a subject matter. Innovation is the next step in the evolution of a subject, a product, or a service. Innovation seldom comes without a strong foundation. Albert Einstein once said "It's not that I'm so smart , it's just that I stay with problems longer ." True innovation requires that level of focus, commitment, and dedication.

Globalization and the speed at which innovation is happening is forcing organizations to focus and commit like never before. They are not just focusing on their core competencies they are narrowing down their core competencies to guarantee the resources required to achieve their goals. There is no margin for error and any half-effort is a wasted effort.

This equation is transforming the market and it's transforming your career. Two things will have a tremendous impact on you:

Specialization and focus

The patience for learning curves is disappearing. The typical strategic planning and execution cycle for these organizations is shrinking and talent that is willing to learn and put in the effort is not enough. Hiring for attitude is no longer an option. Both aptitude and attitude are required.

When you get hired in this economy the company will expect you to make an immediate impact.

You too are going to have to determine your core competencies and narrow them down so you can focus and pour resources into them to become an expert and leader in your field. Yes, this will narrow your options, but you don't have a choice if you want to compete in this market. There is no room for average. Remember Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid? "Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape." To paraphrase (fill in the blank with what defines you):

Either you do ___________ "yes" or __________ do "no."

You do ____________ "guess so," sooner or later get squish just like grape. It might sound counter intuitive but narrowing your options will actually expand your opportunities by being stronger and more competitive in what you do.

You're on your own

Most organizations won't admit it. You will seldom hear it. But I'm sure you can see it and feel it. You're on your own.

Long term for many organizations is 5 years. The average tenure of a Fortune 500 CEO is just 4.6 years (1). Budgets are tight and few can feel certain about what is going to happen in their markets and how they are going to react to it. The career ladder is broken.

Don't get me wrong. There are great organizations that have outstanding career development and succession programs. But those programs are built within the context of their strategy and your potential within the organization. Their focus is not to prepare you for a career outside the organization.

As a consequence, don't expect the organization you work for to plan your career, establish your direction and pay for the training you need to achieve your long term goals. Sure, they will train you on what they need to achieve short term goals. But don't expect to be trained on something that does not have a short and direct return on investment.

Much more to come on these two topics in the following weeks.

Jose J. Ruiz is a Principal in Heidrick & Struggles, a leadership advisory firm providing senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services. Jose's executive search work has focused on CEOs, COOs, and senior-level technology, supply chain, operations, quality and engineering executives.

SOURCES

(1) "Why your CEO could be in trouble." By David Weidner. The Wall Street Journal.

____________

Jose J. Ruiz is a Principal in Heidrick & Struggles, a leadership advisory firm providing senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services. Jose's executive search work has focused on CEOs, COOs, and senior-level technology, supply chain, operations, quality and engineering executives.

Visit his site at JoseJRuiz.com, or jose@josejruiz.com

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