In 2015 LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com, an online guided learning platform. The acquisition was a push towards LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s strategy to increase the importance and convenience of education.
I remember reading a summary of an interview between Lynda.com co-founder and CEO Lynda Weinman and Jeff soon after the deal closed. Jeff asked Lynda about her future ambitions. Much to his surprise, Lynda responded that she prefers to think about how she with be remembered.
Jeff was astounded by Lynda’s answer. I was too.
Lynda started with the end in mind. Her end in mind. She could clearly describe how she wanted to contribute.
In strategy, that would be called describing a vision. Lynda didn’t talk about the intermediate steps or objectives. Instead, she outlined the principles or guideposts for how she would make career decisions.
Strategy set by organisations guides a large proportion of our working life. Unfortunately, corporate strategy often lacks clarity and meaning to inspire the people who are employed to deliver it.
This is because defining strategy starts at what’s known before attempting the very difficult task of describing the future state. Ironically, and to Lynda’s point, people charged with strategy at an organisational or profession level rarely ask how it will be remembered.
For example, if you’re a doctor the career path comes with some choices but it’s relatively linear. The same is true for bankers, electricians, teachers and other important jobs in established professions.
The thing is that if you fit into a traditional profession or organisation, answering what you’re going to do is largely already decided for you.
The bigger issue, as I’ve written about before
, is that a growing number of people don’t fit into a traditional career mould. And for those who do, their institutions are facing massive disruption
. This means that organisations face the real threat of becoming utilities (e.g. financial services companies) or just obsolete.
The net effect is that traditional employment pathways are breaking down. Consequently, those people who used to be guided by tradition movements within an industry or profession will start being asked ‘what do you want to do?’ more often.
In other words, they will start joining entrepreneurs, those transitioning from the military and corporate refugee who is being asked the same question.