Agile careerist case study: Create an Idea Zone
The Idea Zone is the ideal platform to increase an individual’s ability to learn and grow. This buffer zone for creative thought is the premise for the Idea Zone Principle within the Career Agility Model.
To set the stage for our career agility story, let’s take a moment to focus on this vital principle.
Take a cue from software engineers. Develop an idea backlog or buffer zone for future use, similar to the software release process. Save the pixie dust of your creative genius by writing it down or creating a digital document. Review on a rainy day when you are out of creative thoughts, yet still want to make progress.
Meet Drew Marshall, a Gen Xer, who illustrates the principles of the Career Agility Model, especially the Idea Zone Principle.
As part of my research for Activate Your Agile Career, I met Drew at an Urban Café in Manhattan near Times Square. In the previous twenty-four hours, he had traveled from Mexico City to New York. His stamina was impressive for sure, but I was also taken by his present “in the moment” demeanor as we discussed his agile career.
I remembered a morning jog associated with an industry conference, where Drew was one of the runners. I noticed he adjusted his pace to the person he was running beside, including my decidedly slower pace.
He approaches his communication in a similar way, listening carefully with empathy as his guide. His gift of putting people at ease is a skill serving him well on his meaningful career path.
With the style of a creative professional and the shrewd manner of a business strategist, Drew works as an innovation consultant. But there was a time when he had more questions than answers.
The alleyways and footpaths of Drew’s career journey were brimming with observations and insights. His exposure to work started young.
Drew’s early upbringing could best be described by his fortunate experiences as an apprentice in a charming hamlet south of Sydney Australia. The Protestant work ethic mentality summarized the pulse of the lively community. Sacrifices and hours outside the work window were customary to sustain successful interdependent local businesses.
He started as an industrious paperboy delivering newspapers with a rustic wheelbarrow throughout his town. Every family in the neighborhood managed one small business representing the heart and skills of each family.
In summer, he worked as an apprentice to small and medium-sized companies in the creative entrepreneurial business haven representing a range of enterprises: display case manufacturer, gourmet chocolatier, auto supply store, shoe factory, and architecture firm to name a few.
He worked on the factory floors, in the offices, and retail counters, acquiring a varied mix of useful skills. His observations and insights formed his idea collection.
Like a board game strategist, he could see the patterns and unique styles of the hardworking entrepreneurs and their businesses. He dissected the stories of the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial experiences, analyzing the difference between logical success and painful struggle.
His mother, a pre-natal physiotherapist, was an entrepreneur who taught childbirth preparation classes in the home, helping to bring children into the world. His father owned a local store started by his grandfather when he was forced into early retirement by a global conglomerate.
People with perseverance surrounded Drew. They taught him how to stick with it through the difficult times and how to discover the assured path to prosperity.
Drew collects creative thoughts the way some people collect baseball cards.
During his apprenticeship years, he accumulated concepts about how to improve the employee and customer experiences. After receiving a master’s degree in Whole Systems Design in Seattle, he applied concepts of regenerative systems to the cultivation and development of human beings.
With a perceptive eye on human performance since his early days in the entrepreneurial neighborhood of the Shire, Drew became a student of human behavior in the workplace.
When systems were aligned, Drew reasoned, the organization hummed with the production of improved products and motivated employees.
At the center of Drew’s idea factory is the ability to observe patterns and systems from one discipline and to reframe the touchstone idea for another company or industry. He mastered this comparative technique while helping companies solve critical problems.
As a Chief Innovation Officer, he created a vast repository of themes around service, systems design, innovation, leadership, organizational change, and respectful people management.
When challenges overwhelmed his personal principles, Drew took a deep breath and inventoried his many creative ideas for hidden solutions.
A pivotal “people skill” Drew learned was how to motivate people around a shared goal. He cringed with concern when he witnessed dictatorial or dominating styles of management. His instinctive style is to meet individuals on their terms and truly understand what drives them in their work environment.
Inspirational motivated people create the yellow brick road to innovation.
Yet, regardless of how well the agile career navigator manages his career, toxic bosses can trump an otherwise ideal work environment. When this happened to Drew, he smoothed his bumpy ride through the road to entrepreneurship as an innovation consultant.
Speaking of ideas, sometimes the best idea is to leave.
Whenever one of the core pillars of the Agile Career is at risk: creativity, growth, or happiness, it’s time to make adjustments.
When Drew started his own company, he discovered his genuine talent as an external influencer within companies. His ability to instigate ideas within teams and departments results in innovative product creations and powerful people solutions.
His favorite words to live by are,
“Do what you love in service of people who love what you do.” – Steve Farber
From the early days of learning in Sutherland Shire to his current work as an innovation consultant in the US, his flair for perpetual idea flow solidify his worth in the job market.
With his high-frequency radar scanning the world around him, Drew’s transponder captures ideas sparking his imagination. He parcels the content into two sections: his own personal development and beneficial topics for his clients.
By gathering material over time via links, images and documents, he creates a resource reserve from which he nurtures for further inspiration. These ideas accumulate in a fertile field, ready to bloom into valuable concepts for immediate application or future consideration.
The Idea Zone is the ideal platform to achieve Drew’s true mission, to learn and grow.
You can create an Idea Zone by collecting your thoughts and insights in a digital filing system like Evernote or by simply keep a journal.
Read more stories like Drew’s in Activate Your Agile Career: How Responding to Change Will Inspire Your Life’s Work.