In my experience, a lot of management is helping your team figure out where they themselves want to go in their careers. One way we try to help Next Big Sound employees figure this out is through a 10-year planning exercise that Dave Zwieback brought to our team that I’ll share here today.
The setup: Imagine it is 10 years from now and there is a huge party thrown in your honor and we are in attendance. Where are we? What are we celebrating? Who else is there? What are we wearing?
By transporting ourselves away from present day and far into the future the hope is that we avoid extrapolating from our current situation (“well, in 10 years I’ll probably have gotten two promotions and a bigger office”) and into the realm of anything-is-possible.
With a rough 10 year plan in hand it is possible to walk backwards to five year plan, three year plan, and one year milestones. This is where Next Big Sound or any people-first organization can really accelerate. If we know your 10 year goal is to open your own design studio we might help make sure you get plenty of customer and account facing projects. If we know you want to write a book we might be able to help distribute or publicize your writing to build your credibility. Or if we know that you want to be seen as the expert in a particular language or part of the stack we might encourage courses or relevant conferences. The point being, we can pro-actively look out for ways to cross your long-term plans with what Next Big Sound is doing, what NBS needs, and where NBS is headed.
This is a scary exercise for both sides and there needs to be a high-level of trust in order for it to work. What if people’s 1, 3, 5 or 10 year plans take them away from NBS? What if there are no opportunities at NBS for people to take steps towards where they are ultimately going?
There are people that fully embrace this exercise and those who reject it. We don’t have too many data points but the people that don’t embrace this exercise and don’t take the thought exercise seriously generally aren’t as strong a fit on the Next Big Sound team as someone with a strong sense of this high-level direction, or at least with a positive attitude about how they can make their career legendary over the next ten years.