Sometimes we fight the tides, and sometimes we ‘go with the flow’ of life. If you’re happy with your job right now, that’s great, but don’t forget to think about the future and to make conscious career decisions. Lindsay Scott writes a brief allegory that reminds us how ‘the flow’ that is pleasant and productive right now could be taking us to a waterfall of failure downstream.
Getting your Feet Wet
Let’s trace the steps of the PM who flows downstream and into the treacherous waterfall. In the beginning, they test the water and it is perfect. The projects are uncomplicated and for long term client accounts. They begin their smooth and steady journey down the project management river.
The PM then takes some non-accredited courses that help to accelerate the pace of their career. They come to understand project management the way their company wants them to understand it, not according to any industry standards they might encounter elsewhere in the field. In other words, at a fork in the river, the PM allows the flow of the current to choose for them.
The Current Prevails
Now the pace is picking up, the PM excels at what they do, and expects a much deserved promotion for bringing hard work and value to their organization. But at this point, the current is too strong, and although they’d like to switch tracks, they are carried along the same course when a more recent hire is promoted to the position.
In hindsight, the missed promotion makes sense. The other candidate had accrued skills by working at a variety of positions at other companies. Well, fine, they might say but I still enjoy my job and I’m good at what I do (more going with the flow thinking). As the projects coming down the pipeline dwindle and the PM is less needed, a final opportunity arises to switch tracks, but their resume paints them in only one color. The current prevails.
They cannot prove their worth by talking about promotions or industry accreditations; that’s the power of too much career ‘flow’ working against opportunities to learn and grow. Of course, this is a simplification of the phenomenon. Just be sure to have a plan when you first get your feet wet in the project management career stream.