7 keys to maximizing career opportunities

Last week we discussed the 5 key principles in finding opportunity with award-winning industrial designer Gad Shannan. Identifying opportunity is one thing but how do you follow through to turning opportunity into tangible results? In this weeks podcast, I am going to share his 7 award winning principles he uses with his clients to help them maximize their opportunity. In our conversation, he brings us behind the scenes to the processes he uses to help global companies achieve great results. Gad was brought in by the WD-40 corporation to fix the problem with losing the red straw (which 80% of people did!). Gad had no previous experience with the company; however, he brought 25+ years of design experience and his methodology to solve the "red straw mystery". Here are the 7 principles he used to design the breakthrough new lid.

No bias perspective: Billions of dollars later, why couldn’t the company come up with the solution on their own? They know their market and their clients intimately. Gad brought a fresh perspective to help get the company unstuck. Who is bringing you that kind of new perspective in your career?

Compete against yourself: Design takes time, money and energy. The great companies of the world are investing for the now and the future. WD-40 could stay the course, but they invested to continue to make their product better. When you invest in yourself through upgrading educationally or in growing your skill set, you not only help yourself short term, but long term as well. Or don’t. Competing against yourself makes you stronger and yes, less vulnerable to competition. What are you doing to make yourself better?

We are better than me: Gad identified what their product did for their clients, its position in the market and why people used it. His team has many different disciplines from ethnographers, model makers, mechanical designers and industrial designers. Different skills bring along different perspectives. Each person sees the problem from a different angle yet is focused on solving the same problem. What kind of people do you have on your team to "see" things at a different angle?

Simple and usable: The magic of this solution for the can is the simplicity and usability, all the while keeping the costs low. When you are looking at ways of improving your situation, think simple not simplistically. The great breakthroughs are often not as complicated as you think. Are you looking for too complex of an answer?

Test and refine: Once Gad and his team came up with the new design, he took it to small markets and other key buyers to get their feedback. Before starting up your MBA or switching roles, you may try volunteering or spending some time with that company before pulling the trigger. This additional testing the idea before making a total leap reduces much of the risk and increases the likelihood of a successful outcome. What can you do to "try before you buy?"

Courage to implement: Ultimately, once they had done all of the work, the company still had to have the courage to roll out the product. They didn’t really know how it would be received. In Russia alone they sold 4 million cans of the new design. It was a smash hit! Once you decide what you want to do next after you have done all of your design and research, you will never know if the decision is great until you take on that new role or start up that new company. Action is where analysis meets courage! What is holding you back?

Bonus: Promote and celebrate. The ID magazine has a special edition to showcase the products that have been created in 2006. The WD-40 new design was put forward in an ad as something they were proud of. As a result, they won this important award. Don’t be afraid to share your success in your work with key people. You never know what kind of opportunities will come as a result. And yes, celebrate your success. It takes a lot of hard work to get there so enjoy the fruit of your labour.

There are many that are great at identifying opportunity. It is professionals like Gad who can follow through and deliver the "goods" who end up not only with great results, but with long term career success. Looking for an unbiased expert perspective? Book an initial consultation today.

P.S. This week we have added a new feature, The Last Word. This is where we will give our clients an opportunity to share their success. Check it out.

Along the road with you!

Alan