Working at a university I have the opportunity to watch as graduates leave our campus and transition into the world of work. It can be scary especially for creative, engineering types like me who want to go out there, develop solutions, and make a difference only to arrive at a desk on the first day to find an old binder full of procedures and sticky notes (many out of date) talking about how to perform the job.
Where’s the creativity? When do I get to create solutions? Anyone can follow a list of procedures, when do I get to make a difference? Can’t I just spend my time automating this?
Also, as I find myself in transition to a new position within the same university, I too am reflecting upon what this means. I built up a lot of systems that need to be maintained. Soon I will be maintaining a lot of systems developed by someone else. I will feel overwhelmed, worried that I might make the wrong decision in unfamiliar territory. I will also worry that all I worked for in the last decade might fall if not tended to in “just the right way.” Yet, I don’t want to stifle the person taking up the projects I leave behind, as they are no longer mine and they must take ownership, and make it their own.
So, here is my advice:
You will start out going through the motions of those set before you.
That is okay, just observe.
Soon you will identify small areas to make changes, you will claim them and make them your own. These small areas will grow along with your experience and before you know it, you will own the position using your unique talents and skills.
Eventually you won’t be following a preconceived plan, the old ways of doing things transcribed by those in the past will no longer work–the world evolves.
You will have brave, new ideas and after given the chance to observe and make small changes you will know how to apply these ideas in order to better serve your constituents.
Just remember, you are in control, use it wisely. Back-up your ideas and methods with data and creativity, meet challenges with compromise that benefits all parties (even when at first you don’t want to). Use challenges to come up with a creative solution and gain support.
The world evolves, old ways must change to fit the needs of the modern world.
Always include others in the decision making process, you’ll need complete buy-in otherwise even the most noble of projects will fail. (And people will hate you… but you can’t please everyone)
Put the user first and provide them with the relevant tools and resources they need for a successful experience.