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What “Lean Startup” can teach us about making career choices

"You seem to have found your passion"

“You are such an HR person”

“How can you be so certain about what you want to do in your life?”

These statements were thrown to me for couple of times on the past few months. Everytime I heard that, I smiled. The reason behind that smile is because I love my work but it does not mean that I’m 100% sure that it’s what I wanna do for the rest of my life. There is so little about this world that I know. Being too certain about something will only limit the possibilities that I have. I was so intrigued by a post made by Adam Grant, psychologist and best selling authors about career paths of today and the future.

If career paths of today and the future is like that, the burning question then

“How should we treat our career path?”

Interestingly, my philosophy about career path is learned from a book that is somewhat unrelated

Wait, what?

Yeah you hear it right. It’s a book written about how to develop compelling product. Instead of building perfect product and selling it, the book suggests us to build the prototype, measure the performance, and learn from it. From that learning, we can decide if we want to pivot (build something else) or persevere (continue building on top of it)

Now let’s switch a context from product development into career development


Start by having a hypothesis on what job/work you want to do and building career around it. Choice can be made based on your education background, interest, mission, societal expectation, financial, or any other factors. Since I was in high school, I was always interested in solving people’s problem. To test that hypothesis (that I really enjoy solving people’s problem), I am building career in people development area.

In order to have time to validate/invalidate our hypothesis, it takes time. I see the time at work like transversal wave I used to study during my old engineering days.

There will be times when I come to work and say “THIS IS MY DREAM JOB” there is also a day where I felt that “ah shit I wanna quit” . Therefore it’s recommended to stay in a job for quite some time to get balanced perspective on whether you are on the right track.


We need measure my career and life. In order to do this, we need to start by determining the metrics that matter for our life, collecting information, and making conclusion from it. Some of the common metrics we can use are:

Professional (based on Self Determination Theory)

  • How is our progress in building competence in our field?

  • How much autonomy do we have over our work?

  • How is our relationship with our coworkers?


  • How much money are we able to save?

  • How is our physical well being?

  • How is our mental well being?


  • How is the quality of our relationship with people who matter most in our life?

  • How does our investment in professional networking look like?

  • How is our spiritual relations with the higher being?

After knowing the metrics, we can collect information from multiple resources. Some of them are doing self reflection, asking for feedback, having conversation with people outside our circle, reading books/ articles, etc. After that you can take a conclusion on where you stand at the metrics that you measure. It will not be super precise like how we do product analytics (well duh, we have millions of data for that) but it should be able to give us some sense on where we are.


From the data that we get then we make a decision if we want to pivot or persevere. If you like what you do then that’s awesome! Not many people enjoy their work at the moment so if you are one of them then you should be grateful. So persevere is way to go.

When we talk about pivot, it’s not that straightforward. The simplest (but not easy) pivot to do is to change our mindset about the challenge we are facing. If facing difficult boss is perceived as “learn opportunity to manage up” instead of “miserable working life”, we will have bigger probability to enjoy our work.

Well I admit sometime changing our mindset is not enough. If you have develop enough leverage in the office, you might be able to do job crafting. Job crafting is tailoring your job that fits your personal preference while still serving the purpose of the team. For example you are working as sales person but you actually like to teach. You might negotiate with your supervisor to gain more time to teach instead of selling. If you have bigger leverage, you might ask to move to other teams that you have dreamed of.

If all of these don’t work out perhaps you should start considering a move. Take your time! It’s true that job hopping is the trend right not but it should not be taken lightly. The more careful we are, the less likely we pick the wrong destination. However there is always a chance that we’re wrong and that’s ok. That’s where we start the Build, Measure, Learn cycle again.

Hope this article is useful. If you like this article, share to your friends. It might help to to get better clarity about their career. If you want to read similar article like this, visit my website


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