The case for diversifying “yourself” through an Educational Capabilities & Industries Framework (ECIF, 2020).
Bite Size Management Thoughts by Dr. Constantine “Dino” Kiritsis, founder StudySmart, ICDE, PwC
In business, it is always a ‘magical’ moment when I start talking about business growth. The session starts by asking participants how many directions can a company take to grow and the answers vary. They are surprised when we apply Ansoff’s matrix which states that companies can take 4 different directions as indicated in the model below. Of course, companies can opt for all 4 at the same time, but the fact that the model always works is amazing and makes professionals focus and understand their options in a simple – yet brilliant – way.
Option 1: They can stay in the same market with the same products or services;
Option 2: They can offer a new product/service in the same market;
Option 3: They can go to a new market with the same products/service
Option 4: They can diversify in an related and/or unrelated way.
The focus of this ‘bite size’ thought is not to explain this model, but to use it as a basis to develop a framework for professionals in relation to their careers named, the Educational Capabilities & Industries Framework (ECIF).In a nutshell, the idea is that professionals usually have 4 options when they think of staying employable:
Figure 2: Educational Capabilities & Industries Model (ECIM) Kiritsis, 2020:
OPTION 1: They can stay in the same industry with the same skills; (top left): in essence, professionals in this quadrant do not gain any new skills and prefer to stay ‘safe’; This is an example of a number of professionals working in the public sector. It is a risky option in today’s day and age for obvious reasons. Things change extremely fast while individuals need to continue to update their knowledge. Those who are laid off unfortunately find out the hard way that this option does not equip them enough for their next step.
OPTION 2: They can gain a new skill but still work in the same market/industry; (top right). This is a safe way as constantly updating skills is a way to stay employable and this is the main reason why professional associations require continuing professional development credit (or units) to keep certifications or designations. However, this quadrant has a risk of relying too much or staying in the same industry which may also change. Therefore, the skills need to be based on the industry requirements and one needs to constantly follow the trends and requirements to build skills based on these and remain employable. Remember that the life cycle of companies is slightly over 15 years according to research, when it used to be 60+ back in the 20’s (Credit Suisse, through CNBC, Sheetz, 2017). This is probably why innovation is becoming more and more important and why we should analyse how and in what way we may be disrupted.
OPTION 3: They can move into a new industry using their existing knowledge and skills; (bottom left); This is a good option as new industries and markets are exploited (given the point made above about the average life span of companies), however the skills are not sharpened and therefore this option remains risky given the fast changes occurring in every industry and the level of disruption.
OPTION 4: They can diversify towards a new industry by also gaining new skills at the same time; Given the fast pace of our world, it is imperative to think in ALL four directions, however, based on our own ‘why how what’ (personal vision and career focus), what can make us stay employable at all times is updating our knowledge and being open to new markets/industries. This is in line with the best practice of continuing professional development (CPD) that professional qualifications require, usually every 18 months. The fast pace of change which is affecting employment, job descriptions as well as the creation of new industries is calling for more flexibility thus making this option the most ideal.
As in every framework, there are limitations and will be writing more on the subject, however especially for young ages, it may be better to be a ‘generalist’ and try various positions until focus is required. One of the key takeaways – I feel – from this framework is the fact that we have 4 main options and it is imperative to know the risks associated with each always within the amazingly fast business context we live in.