How to pick impactful Practice Development

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This article introduces the concept of Practice Development, an often misunderstood part of company time.

What is it?

Practice Development is when you contribute to an internal initiative for your company that does not directly impact sales. e.g. Hosting a Lunch and Learn to share your skills with your colleagues or planning a fundraiser for a charity

Contributing to one of these Practice Development intiatives is a great way to introduce yourself to team mates across your company, open doors to new opportunities, or explore your interests. But it's easy to get the priority of these intiatives wrong or to put all your efforts into Practice Development ideas that don't make the impact you hoped for.

The rest of this article gives tips on:

  • When to prioritise Practice Development relative to your other tasks as a new joiner in a large company
  • How to pick impactful Practice Development

When to prioritise Practice Development

If you were asked to collect photos for an internal meeting, and you were also asked to prepare a presentation for a client meeting. It would not be acceptable to deliver the photos and fail to prepare the presentation.

It’s easy to make this kind of mistake when starting a new role because each company has different concepts on how your should prioritise competing tasks and people will often seek your attention without fully reviewing your existing or upcoming tasks. So how can you sort what is important and what is not? And where does Practice Development fit into all of this?

Use a list to guide how you treat your work. The following list is an example, yours may look different, and it's important that you develop your own thinking on your priorities based on your company culture and use that to guide where your attention is allocated.

Notice that Practice Development is not ridiculously high on this list, it's important, but not more important than delivering for your client.

πŸ’‘

1. Money / Health 2. Compliance / Mandatory Training 3. Client Work 4. Business Development e.g. Creating proposals to gain more business for the company 5. Optional Training 6. Practice Development e.g. Hosting an internal call to share specialist knowledge

How to pick impactful Practice Development

With the time you do dedicate to Practice Development, you want to maximise your impact. You can use these questions to help you choose impactful Practice Development opportunities...

  1. Are you solving a REAL problem? Is this a shared problem that other people see value in solving?
  2. Is it ALIGNED TO A STRATEGIC outcome? i.e. Are you pushing in the same direction as the company?
  3. Is it DONEABLE? Can you complete the task, or is it an ongoing responsibility?
  4. Is the work GENERALISED? i.e. You should avoid making something that becomes specialist knowledge that only you can maintain, because it will limit your ability to take on new initiatives in the future
  5. Can it be complete WITHIN 6 MONTHS?
  6. Will you be assisting a LARGE AUDIENCE or HIGH-IMPACT STAKEHOLDER?
  7. Does the effort produce something that has MULTIPLE USES?
  8. Does a version of this effort NOT ALREADY EXIST?
  9. Will the product have a LONG SHELF-LIFE, or be sent to the bottom-desk-drawer for eternity?
  10. Does it let you LEAD OR COLLABORATE WITH A TEAM?
  11. Will you learn a VALUABLE SKILL?
  12. Is it aligned to your FUTURE ROLE?
  13. Can the work be presented back in a DEPARTMENT MEETING?

Additionally, you might like to avoid the following initiatives that do not often meet the above criteria:

  • Newsletters
  • SharePoint Maintenance
  • Blog Posts
  • Dashboard Reporting

Too many Practice Development ideas are well-intentioned, interesting, and exciting, but ultimately don't lead to meaningful or impactful outcomes because filters like these weren't applied upfront.

I'm hopeful that these tips will help you determine when to focus on Practice Development and which Practice Development idea should get your attention.