Discontinuous what? Recognition of discontinuous change and opportunity is growing, if slowly.
When Cheyenne was 32 the local bank where she had worked for 7 years was acquired. Branches were closed. Employees were laid off, including Cheyenne. By then she knew how to be a branch installment lending officer granting loans for home remodeling, car purchases, vacation toys like boats and camping trailers, and sudden orthodontia expenses. She paid an employment service to find her another, comparable job with different bank. She had to move 2 hours away, but the cost and move were worth it for a sense of permanence and future. She had sought continuous opportunity, knew the ropes, and persevered.
When Cheyenne was 48 she was still a lending officer in a branch. True, she had weathered the nearly-rhythmic decisions by senior management to centralize and then decentralize and then centralize and then decentralize the maintenance of paper and then electronic loan files. Also, she had weathered the many experiments with putting branches in grocery stores and pharmacies, the advent of electronic tellers, and the elimination of teller-staffed drive up windows even though it meant she worked as a backup teller during the lunch hour. All of these changes were part of efforts at continuous improvement. Nothing fundamental changed except procedures and location. The branches were still autonomous within their dollar lending limits and always-in-motion loan documentation requirements. She knew how to work with continuous change.
When Cheyenne was 52, her bank decided to convert the branches into “customer service centers”. Bank staff could open accounts and accept deposits as always, but all lending activities were being centralized at a “loan processing center” 500 miles away. Bank staff could accept loan applications but had to send them to the “LPC” for review, approval or disapproval. This meant Cheyenne was no longer a lending officer. She was suddenly a “Sales Officer” with a quota of credit-worthy loans – which must be within the credit scoring tolerances – to submit to the “LPC” each month. She had a base salary but no upside for productivity. This change was discontinuous. Something fundamental had shifted in her banking world. She hadn’t seen it coming. She couldn’t use her past experience to problem solve. She hadn’t been here before.
She sought out a career professional to help her update her resume. He refused to start there, pointing out that she needed to take a look at both her continuous opportunities and discontinuous opportunities first. He also insisted that they identify the likely decision makers she would have to convince and find out what they would need to see. This, he explained, is because a resume is really a sales brochure written for a specific audience of decision makers, in their language. And she didn’t know who her audiences were yet or what language they used. If she just wanted a resume that described her that she could put in the mail to prospects, he said, she should go to a resume service which would cost her less money and take less time.
He kept pushing. What was it she was trying to achieve?
Cheyenne decided to trust her career professional. Before, every time he had asked what she was trying to achieve, she answered “Customer Service/Lending Job at a bank”. Every time she gave that answer he said, “I doubt it but we’ll see.”
They began their work together on an easel pad divided into two columns by a vertical line. One column was headed Continuous Opportunities. The other was headed Discontinuous Opportunities. They could have done it on a laptop, but her career professional wanted her to have a kinetic experience of engaging with her opportunities.
Contrary to her early concerns, she began to like and trust him. Better yet, she began to be simultaneously grounded and creative about her professional future, trusting and finding ability in herself in new ways she had not anticipated.
Their next steps were…….
To Be Described in Part 2 of this blog