“Where I am today is my starting point. Who I am today is my starting point. My failures and successes of the past, my fears and hopes of the future are all shadows. Today is my reality, and I’ll use it to create my world.” — Taylor Stevens
The Professional Development Grid by Michael Watkins is a systematic way to chart out your professional development and plot your career growth.
It’s a simple grid using the STARS model to help you map out your professional experience as well as to chart your course.
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.
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.
Here are my key takeaways:
- 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 Professional Development Grid (Based on the STARs Framework)
Watkins provides an example Development Grid:
STARs Model for Charting Progression
You can use the STARs model to show your career progression.
“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 Professional Development Grid
Take the time to fill out the professional development grid.
“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
Walk through the chart and identify the positions you had.
“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 circled 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
Empty columns or rows help you see areas for potential growth and development.
“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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