Development Grid


How can you systematically chart out your professional development?  It’s not just functional experience that matters.  The types of business situations you’ve been in matter too.  For example, serving a marketing role during a Start-up is very different than the same role during a Sustaining Success situation.  You can use the STARS model to help you map out your professional experience as well as to chart your course.  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about using the STARS model to plan your professional development.

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Map out your functional expertise.  For example, identify your experience in marketing, sales, finance, human resources, operations, R&D and information management.
  • Map out the business situations you’ve been in.  For example, Start-up, Turnaround, Realignment, and Sustaining Success are all very different scenarios.
  • Use the map to identify strengths and opportunities.  Now that you have charted your past, you can proactively identify where you can either leverage your strengths or where you can focus on development.

Example Development Grid
Watkins provides an example Development Grid:

Start-up Turnaround Realignment Sustaining Success
Human Resources
Information Management

STARS Model for Charting Progression
Watkins writes:

“The STARS model provides a basis for evaluating performance in very different types of situations.  Perhaps more important, it provides a basis for charting the progression of high-potential leaders through a series of positions that build their capability to manage a broad range of business scenarios.”

Fill Out the Development Grid
Watkins writes:

“To illustrate, think of your own job history.  Take some time to fill out the development grid, a tool for charting professional development.  The rows represent functions in which you have worked, and the columns represent types of business situations you have experienced.”

Chart Your Positions
Watkins writes:

“Chart every management position you have held, plus any major project or task force assignments.  For example, if your first managerial job was in marketing in an organization (or unit) in the midst of a turnaround, place a circled 1 (indicating your first management position) in the corresponding cell of the matrix.  If your next position was in sales in a new unit (or dealing with a new product or project) — a start-up situation — enter a circleed 2 in that cell.  If at the same time you were on a task force dealing with operations issues for the start-up, enter a 2 inside a triangle (indicating a project assignment) in the appropriate cell.”

Illuminate Your Professional Trajectory
Watkins writes:

“Record all your managerial jobs, and then connect the dots to illuminate your professional trajectory.  Are there any blank columns or rows?  What do they signify about your readiness for general-management positions?  About your potential blind spots?”

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