My LinkedIn Experiment
A few weeks ago, I proposed an experiment on LinkedIn to crowd source opinions of who I am. The challenge was to capture the consensus of people in my LinkedIn network regarding their perception of me. To do so, I proposed using LinkedIn’s new Skills Endorsement feature to capture these market perceptions.
Now, with over 5% of my network weighing in, my top five skill endorsements are Start-ups, Strategic Planning, Professional Services, Business Strategy and Change Management. If you combine Strategic Planning and Business Strategy as one and the same, then by far and away my network views me as a strategy guy.
So how do I feel about who they perceive I am?
I have never viewed myself as someone who is a strategy guy. I have friends who are brilliant at strategic planning. Their capacity to collect, absorb and synthesize vast amounts of information is awe-inspiring. I think I am somewhat capable of this but probably not what I do best day to day. What I do that gets confused with strategy is that I have a talent to strip away the superfluous and ancillary information, and focus on the meat of the problem. I also raise the level of discussion to a higher level where many issues are connected together under one umbrella with common or shared root causes. In other words, solve one root problem and you fix many symptom issues.
I am not surprised to see perceptions of me as a professional services guy because of my years as a leader of PS teams. I think of PS and Sales as my two trades, much like a plumber or electrician consider those skill areas as their trades. Having a trade is an important concept which I picked up from reading about the military. Military leaders develop a trade, whether it be artillery, infantry, counter-intelligence, engineers, etc, before they become a senior leader. I believe the same applies to business, although sometimes leaders without a trade get promoted into senior positions before spectacularly crashing back down.
The perception of me as a start-up guy is interesting. I work with start-ups but I am not a start-up guy. The risk profile of an entrepreneur isn’t part of my DNA. Other than The Meaford Group, I have never started anything. I do help start-up companies overcome the hurdles that get in the way of their ability to scale and get bigger. Because I have worked with so many start-ups, I understand their context and can bridge my large company experience into meaningful advice for them.
Overall, I am pretty happy with the experiment. It generated LinkedIn traffic and gave me great feedback about myself. It will also be interesting to continue to monitor external perceptions as more people weigh in over time.