Stepping into a new role, in a new place, in a new city, is always a daunting prospect.
Even more so, when one doesn’t have a plan for where to even start.
Fortunately, I’ve bounced around enough, to have crafted a standard approach to getting up to speed quickly and efficiently, and becoming productive immediately upon hitting the ground in a new engagement, project, or position.
My approach centers around three Cs: Constructs, Culture, and Conversations.
The first thing I do in any new engagement is understand all the systems involved, the Constructs, if you will, of the project. This includes everything from understanding accounting systems, the budgeting process, identification of funding sources, and the underlying infrastructure in place to support the enterprise. This is foundational to getting off to a solid, fast start.
Next, I try and suss out the Culture that drives the motivation, purpose, and goals of my new environment. Unless I can understand the ecosystem and attitudes of my colleagues and customers, I stand zero hope of being an effective advocate, or coming remotely close to fulfilling the reason behind me being here. I definitely have ideas behind the type of Culture that I thrive in; but, one must understand where people are, first, if one is ever to move them in a direction other than where they are going. Trust me: operating in a small, liberal arts college in the Southwest is a significantly different prospect that working in a Yeshivah in Brooklyn. Culture eats Strategy’s breakfast, as they say.
Finally, I try to craft processes and strategies to build an ongoing Conversation about the goals and aims that I hope to accomplish. This might take the form of a Scope of Work; perhaps, a Strategic Technology Plan. It might even manifest itself in a series of events, or community building exercises. These narratives become the framework for how we discuss the work, and build toward a sustainable dialogue that informs all stakeholders about the overall goals we are striving toward, so that each and every subsequent decision and conversation is driven by the overarching Conversation we have built.
The Three Cs are simply my fluid approach to engagement management, and are very open to changeable interpretation on the fly, as conditions dictate.
The key to sustainable success is communication, meeting people where they are, and understanding the ground upon which you stand.