42 DC VELOCITY JUNE 2015 www.dcvelocity.com
MANY THANKS TO PAUL SIMON FOR THE VERY SOUND
advice, but we are not seeking one of 50 ways to leave a lover. Of
course, the term originated as “What’s the plan, Stan?” in a children’s rhyme featuring a dog named Stan. But the thought is timely.
Those who have spent much time in the supply chain world can
easily fall into a hectic life that is strangely comforting in its repeated
challenges and catastrophes. We bob and weave, extinguish fires,
overcome ineptitude, work our way up, get caught in rightsizing,
move on to the next job, and are rudely awakened one day to discover that it is time to go to grass. Turn in your keys. Enjoy the stale
cake at the farewell party. No more passing Go and collecting $200.
Now what? How did you get here? Where are you? What happened
to the passing years? Was this the plan? Was there a plan at all?
ENVIRONMENT AND PRECEDENT
We are surrounded by plans and planning in our jobs: targets,
objectives, timelines, budgets, and resource
requirements and constraints. We focus daily,
sometimes continuously, on fill rates, on-time
shipments, inventory levels, throughput performance, and more. We face deadlines, measure progress, track milestones, and perform
True, real life and random events throw us a
few curve balls, but we always have the plans to
return to, to pick up the pieces, and continue
on toward the ultimate objective(s). Do we have
something similar to provide a life and career
path, a course to return to when things go awry?
Why not? And what should one look like?
Everyone’s career plan will look a bit different, but they all must
begin with an ultimate goal. The goal will then help to highlight
some essential steps along the way. Here are some considerations.
The goal must be reasonable, or at least remotely realistic. “Gee,
I’d like to be a Formula One racer” is not a goal. Pee Wee Herman’s
envisioning himself as the next Denzel Washington is not remotely
Take stock of where you are and what you have done to date in
order to lay out what experiences you need to gain, what skills you
need to acquire and develop, what industries you need to understand, what functionality you must master, and what roles your
styles and preferences best prepare you for. Then, translate these to
an actionable plan, including a timeline.
BY ART VAN BODEGRAVEN AND
KENNETH B. ACKERMAN basictraining
Make a new plan, Stan
And note this well: The development plan that
your company has laid out for you, while evidence
of enlightenment, is not at all the same thing as
your life plan. Also note that the career plan is only
one of many that a full and rewarding life leverages. A family plan, financial plan, job plan (whether
or not your employer provides one), service plan
for causes and communities—all are important
and parts of the whole you.
Unfortunately, the next steps are not a matter
of rote execution. They begin that way, but real
life will surely interfere. You can’t change reality,
so you’ll need to adapt your plan. As Iron Mike
Tyson often says, “Everybody’s got a plan until
Some steps will take longer
than expected. Some interim objectives (milestones)
will prove to be infeasible.
Opportunities may become
limited at the time they are,
by plan, needed. In short, each
forward step will help provide
deeper insight and greater clarity for both the
immediate next steps and the ultimate objective
of this self-development journey that you are in
So, we are back to Paul Simon. Make a new
plan, Stan. Adjust, refine, recalibrate—
continuously follow an elusive, moving, and changing
target. There is nothing wrong with that, and a lot
that is right.
Don’t be afraid to leverage an opportunistic
opening, by the way. Just be careful to examine it
with some discipline to see how it might accelerate your progress toward your goals. On the other
hand, don’t abandon all rigor and focus, and fall
back into depending on opportunistic openings.