Discovering Lean Career
Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 12:00PM
Mair Dundon in evolving process, lean career, transparent design

Lean Career. That's the first time you might have heard that from me. Well, this is the new work that I'm pursuing - and I'd like to tell you a bit of the story on how I got here so you don't get lost!

Looking back over the past few years - I can begin to see a series of choices and intrigues that have led me to this new path. 

The questions changed last summer. Working as a Lean product and business coach with a few different types of businesses I was growing frustrated with my inability to introduce new process on the fly and just "try it out." Working with teams was simply too slow to both get work done and evolve the framework and process so that to fit for a variety of situations.

So, I switched gears and began adapting the Lean process I'd developed for product and business design to individual needs. Specifically, to help people design their portfolios in conditions of high uncertainty. I began talking to people about how the designed their careers and quickly began tuning the questions and solutions I'd offer. 

I blew through several workshop versions of "portfolio prototyping" and learned some powerful lessons. One of the biggest was that creating an overview, building something, sharing it and then learning created a huge shift for them and got them moving again. I was shocked as my first workshop group spent 15 minutes updating their canvas based on what they had learned. Complete silence except for the scratching of pens and pencils. Awesome.

The January Portfolio hackathon included 3 developers, 3 business folks and 4 designers. It immediately became clear that the framework I was creating was becoming more about a broader career focus so that it could cover those who didn't necessarily need a portfolio to communicate their skills and create a strong work life. It's a challenge - but not the only one - and at times not the most IMPORTANT one to address.

Realistically, being able to break down big needs into little things to do was the biggest challenge. And then deciding which of those things you could do would prevent you from getting any work.

So, it became the Career Hackathon.

The final switch tripped about 3 weeks ago when I returned from a trip to LA to begin understanding the market for the Career Hackathon. I was explaining how I wanted to show people how the "problem interview" from Ash Maura's Running Lean was really "info interviewing" in this context and "solution interviewing" was really just a job interview. I was surprised and happy about just how many concepts from Lean Startup, product and UX could be adapted. 

My friend said, "Lean Career. It's Lean Career design." 

And so I arrived. Or rather, I am slowly and iteratively arriving.

So, what is Lean Career? For now, it's a new Lean process framework being iteratively developed to solve the problem of creating our careers under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

Yes, I can picture the book. Yes, this is just the beginning and I have no idea where we'll end up. Well, I have some ideas - or I wouldn't be a very good creative entrepreneur :). Now I just have to validate them with all of you.

And on we go.

I've decided to evolve this new intrigue using a community of practice over on Google+. I've created a Lean Career Community.

1. Sign into with your Gmail and pw
2. Search for Lean Career and choose the community
3. Join the community - and I'll get you subscribed. This means you'll see the posts in your G+ feed. Or you can find the community feed under Interests > Community


Article originally appeared on Mair Dundon | quietAction | Creative Entrepreneur & Lean Product & Business Design (
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