Design Your Career: Looking for Themes
Design Your Career: Frame Opportunities

Design Your Career: Harvest Insights


Over the course of the next few weeks, I'm showing you how to apply design thinking and principles to your career planning and development. The series of posts so far is here

On Tuesday, we talked about looking for themes in the information you've been gathering as part of your design process. Today, we're going to look at strategies for harvesting insights from those themes. 

What do we mean by "Insights"?

In this context, "insights" are concise expressions of what you have learned during your discovery and inspiration process. They sum up key learnings. You may find those insights in a quote from someone you talked with or in a phrase or sentence from an article you've read. Here are some examples:

  • I need to do work that let's me express my core values of innovation and freedom.
  • I have a hard time with risk-taking, but if I want to start my own business, I need to become more comfortable with this. 
  • The main reason I'm unhappy in my job right now is because I don't trust the company or my colleagues. What could I do about that? 

Career design is a very personal experience that will go to the core of some key beliefs you have about yourself and your work. Be open to harvesting insights that may touch on areas where you feel more vulnerable or afraid, because often these are the places with the most juice for moving forward once you acknowledge them.

Also be open to insights that may force you to question assumptions that you've made about your career. You may discover, for example, that you've always felt that you "should" do certain things but those "shoulds" were hidden from your thinking. Let these assumptions come to the surface. They may point to new possibilities that previously didn't feel available to you. 

Now that you have an idea of what we mean by "insights," here's how to work with them:

 

1. Look for what surprise or intrigues you.

Review your themes and categories with an open mind. What surprises you? What feels inspiring and worth pursuing more? Where do you feel curious? What themes seem to spark the most ideas and possiblities? 

Pay attention to where you feel the juice, the energy. These spots contain the seeds of opportunity. 

2. Capture your insights in short sentences that get at the essence of what you're seeing. 

As you look for the insights in your themes, begin to construct some short simple sentences to describe what you're finding. If you can, word them in ways that feel inspiring and positive to you--that suggest new possibilities or opportunities, or even challenges for yourself. 

3. Reconnect to your project challenge.

Look back at your original challenge and consider how these insights are connected to it. Try to narrow down to 3-5 insights that seem most relevant and important to your initial challenge and the questions you were asking. If you have other insights that are less relevant but that you want to hold onto, create a section in your Idea Book to record those. You can always return to them later. 

4. Get an outside perspective.

If you're comfortable with this, it can be helpful to share your insights with a trusted friend, colleague or partner. See if these insights resonate with them. Maybe they have some thoughts that can add to your thinking. 

 

That's it for now. In our next post in the series, we'll finish up the Interpretation phase by looking at how you can use your insights to frame opportunities. 

 

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