What’s important to you to advance your career?

This post is for my students and those that I’ve mentored. If you find this relevant, then. Welcome. If not, then ignore.

We have all been caught in two things in the past ten years or so. One is the rush to be certified in one thing or another. Because that’s what employers seem to want. The other is the need to try and “predict” what will be “popular” to be “certified ” in, in the next few years.

Let me share something with you. 

Most of the certification that seems to have been popular has been vendor driven. That is, you get certified in your ability to understand and to use a particular vendors product or service. Why? Because the vendors have realized that certification serves two purpose. One is to make loyalty to vendor rather to your employer or industry the prime concern. The other is to avoid you being “smart” or “capable” enough to work in a multi vendor, or a non vendor environment. Is it wrong? No. Because the vendors purpose is to do just that. 

Is it wrong for you to play the game? Morally, I can’t say much, as it’s a very subjective thing. But I will say that it’s necessary for the short term “point in time and space” need. If you do not take care of your own medium and long term needs, who will?

Today’s world is ever changing.  You get certified in a product or service, what’s the catch? There is always a version number. Being certified in say, Xxx version 9, means that very soon, you will need to get certified in Xxx version 10. And it goes on.  

Do you feel tired?

You see many of your IT friends moving to other completely different fields. Why?

The only reason you are not is because you feel trapped. There is no way out without any risk. Or you are one of the few who are genuinely IT in the blood. Which is OK.

For the rest of us, it’s getting to be really tiring, to keep up with the constant change. 

What’s the solution?

Get to see the reality. Technolgy is to serve a purpose. A business purpose. Ultimately a life purpose. What is that?

I’m not going to go into the life purpose in this post. But the business purpose is what matters. If you are able to see, and to communicate your ability to see, and to work with, the connect (or lack of connect ) between IT implementation and business needs. And the way to address this disconnect, is it not a better long term long term investment to educate yourself in this area?

I’ve been doing exactly this for the past thirty years. And I’m convinced that this is the right thing. The ability to connect IT and business needs have been a very big need since I first got involved in IT, and that still remains an essential need. This tells me that if the need has been there so long, it is a permanent necessity in all organizations. For as long as I can remember and foresee. 

Why is EA becoming a focus of large organizations? It’s  been there for 30 years but why the urgency now? It’s because there is a recognition finally, that “point in time and space” solutions are a necessary stop gap measure. But the fire fighting initiatives, while necessary to keep alive, must be supplement with efforts to make make the organization strong enough so that the fire fighting will be significantly reduced. 

This is very important.  

So I’ll explain again.

If you feel that the only solution to stay away from strokes and heart attacks is to take drugs, and do not do the long term activities of exercise and proper diet, then you will forever be dependent on drugs. At great cost in money and in life style. You will be forever be restricted in the strategies and directions of your life. So it with organizations.

In terms of your own career. I’ll be the first to admit that neither you nor I have any idea what the future will be like in five years time. What are the hot things?

 Take things as they come. But I can tell you what I’ve learned over the past 40 years. The thinking and analytical skills are getting more important and rare. While everybody is getting certified in all sorts of things. (I’m not against certification. After all my own business is largely based on that). Ask yourself. How many people do you know who has been “certified” in all kinds of things (I have a student who has 23 certificates) and who admit that they have no idea about the practical use of those subject matter? 

Everybody I’ve talked to lament the lack of thinking skills. Among other skills like soft skills. But nobody has a solution.

I can tell you what the solution is and why it’s so difficult. Nobody likes to think. Thinking is hard work. It really is very very hard work. Many people don’t know this because their minds had always directed them away from thinking activities. Having a thought arise in your head. Or having an “answer” to a question posed, is only a split second of mental activity. Imagine thinking about an issue non stop for an entries day. Or a week or a month or a lifetime. 

Pause for a while. 

Do you expect to be “told” all the steps to take to address a particular issue? Do you expect pretty PowerPoint slides to lay down step by step “how to” for everything you may encounter?

Did you stop to think what that means? That means what you learn is something that anyone with the same PowerPoint slides can also be “informed”.

So, where is your competitive advantage?

I don’t apologize  for this long text so far, but by now, I think you get the message. If not, my apologies and you can stop reading this post.

You need some skill that is essential. And  that you yourself have added value to.

This makes the critical difference.

You are unique. 

Nobody can be you. 

But you need a framework, to help you to put your uniqueness in the context of your organization. Or Any other organization.  

That is the  secret I am sharing with you.

The only way you are going to make yourself unique in a way that is going to be usefully recognizable to potential bosses and clients is if you have a commonly accepted framework to put your unique skills in context.

The Zachman Framework it the one and only thing to do so.

I discovered the Zachman Framework some 20 years ago. It was considered novel, and whacky, ahead of its time then. Today, it’s truth is obvious. 

I do not have any exclusivity to it. But I’m sharing it with you. 

The framework is a “natural law of enterprises”. As such,  it transcends time and space ( as methodologies do). 

And John Zahman, the origmiator, is able to explain it in a way that none of us can. This much I share with you. Beware those who have read a paper and then put themselves in a position of expert. Especially those who then tell you they have a better idea. There are many in our environment. I has a conversation with a very old friend who said the it was “too difficult” for him to understand, and so, he came up with his own version that was simpler. Hello, you yourself can’t understand, and you are expert to modify it?

Join me in attending the presentation by John Zachman himself.

You will experience something you will treasure for the rest of your career and your life. I’ve used the Zachman Framwework in both my personal as well as my professional life. And I’m convinced it’s a valuable  thing for everybody to learn. 

Did I listen to John Zachman once to draw this conclusion? I have listened to John maybe ten times. And each time I’ve learned something.

Join me this November if you’re in Malaysia.

find out at www.infospec.com.my

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About Ed Simon

This is my user name as Editor of this blog. Some site visitors may already be acquainted with the different areas of my interest. I am uncertain how I should classify myself. I have lived studied and worked in Malaysia and in the UK for long periods. I have also travelled to many other countries for both work, pleasure, and just "wandering". I leave the postings to tell about my areas of work and interest, so as not to bore you with a lengthy (and probably embellished :-) recount of my triumphs and tribulations.

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