Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 28;   July 15, 2009: Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure

Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure

by

Finding work in tough times goes a lot more easily if you have at least a minimum of equipment and space to do the job. Here are some thoughts about getting that infrastructure and managing it.
A grove of quaking aspen

A grove of quaking aspen (populus tremuloides). Unlike most trees, aspen propagate vegetatively. They send out shoots underground, which then grow to the surface and form what appear to be new trees. Contrary to their appearance, though, these "offspring" are actually part of the same organism. These collections of connected aspen are known as clones. The largest known clone, located in the Fish Lake National Forest in central Utah, covers 106 acres and is estimated to weigh 6600 tons. At 80,000 years of age, it is also the oldest known clone. It is likely that aspens can reach this massive size, in part, because of the powerful infrastructure they construct underground. The infrastructure allows them to spread over a wide area, which protects them from the dangers of avalanche, landslide and forest fire. If any of these calamities strike, they are less likely to destroy a large clone than a single tree.

Putting in place the infrastructure you need for a job search, even if you are employed full time, provides the insurance you might need someday if you find yourself looking for work. Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service.

Looking for work is always challenging, but sometimes, "challenging" isn't really a strong enough word. Still, we must carry on. In the first part of this series on finding work, we examined strategy. In this part we look at infrastructure and management issues.

Finding work is much easier if you can acquire and manage the necessary infrastructure. By infrastructure I mean the conceptual, physical, and space requirements you need for the job of finding a job. Managing your infrastructure and managing your expenses are part of that.

Infrastructure doesn't have to be fancy, complex, or expensive; indeed, a common error is excessive emphasis and investment in infrastructure and its management. Get what you really need; no more, no less.

Here are some suggestions for infrastructure acquisition and management.

Know your run rate
Monitor your spending rate. In a severe recession, regular paychecks might be some time off in your future, so monitor your spending. Calibrate your remaining liquid assets in days or months. Adjust spending accordingly.
Practice thrift by reducing your run rate
Selling off the family ranch creates cash, but it also hurts, so take no drastic steps unless you need to. It's the dozens of little decisions that make the least painful difference. If you're measuring your run rate, you can control it more easily, and even reduce it. Rent DVDs instead of going to a movie theater; if you go to the theater, don't buy the popcorn; jog in the park instead of on a treadmill at a health club.
Dedicate some space to your office
You need an office: desk, file cabinet, comfortable chair, computer, stationery, supplies, and so on. If you can't dedicate a room, dedicate space. Use an electronic calendar to keep appointments straight.
Get first-rate phone facilities
If you're measuring your run rate,
you can control it more easily,
and even reduce it
Callers should never get a busy signal. When you're unavailable or on the line, voicemail or an answering service is essential, depending on the stature of the position you seek. Your home phone is not a business line. Get a dedicated line and use a headset.
Have a mobile office
Even when traveling to interviews, networking meetings, or professional society meetings, you need to stay in contact with your office. If you can manage with a smartphone, fine, but get what you need. If you're still using a bulky day planner, rethink it: go smaller or go electronic.
Consider having your own domain name
If you need email access, gmail is free and has a clean, professional image. But if you have a common name, your gmail account name might be somewhat unprofessional: jsmith2027 for instance. Consider getting your own domain name for email service.

If you're reading this, you probably have a computer. Does it belong to your employer? If it does, and you lose your job, what then? First in this series  Next in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Finding Work in Tough Times: Marketing  Next Issue

For more on finding work in tough times, see "Finding Work in Tough Times: Strategy," Point Lookout for July 8, 2009; "Finding Work in Tough Times: Marketing," Point Lookout for July 22, 2009; and "Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications," Point Lookout for July 29, 2009.

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenjbvTNfoNJZmixrmyner@ChacJgcZMqxezYhEReDooCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A squirrel running a cageRunning Your Personal Squirrel Cage
As Glen rounded the corner behind the old oak, entering the last mile of his morning run, he suddenly realized that he was thinking about picking up the dry cleaning tomorrow and changing his medical appointment. Physically, he was jogging in a park, but mentally, he was running in a squirrel cage. How does this happen? What can we do about it?
The Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal, showing their guide wallsIn the Groove
Under stress, we sometimes make choices that we later regret. And we wonder, "Will I ever learn?" Fortunately, the problem usually isn't a failure to learn. Changing just takes practice.
Computer monitors being recycled by the Nevada Division of Environmental ProtectionHow Not to Accumulate Junk
Look around your office. Look around your home. Very likely, some of your belongings are useless and provide neither enjoyment nor cause for contemplation. Where does this stuff come from? Why can't we get rid of it?
The Bay of Whales off the Ross Ice Shelf, AntarcticaHow to Make Good Guesses: Strategy
Making good guesses — guessing right — is often regarded as a talent that cannot be taught. Like most things, it probably does take talent to be among the first rank of those who make conjectures. But being in the second rank is pretty good, too, and we can learn how to do that.
The business end of a spark plugWacky Words of Wisdom: Part III
Adages are so elegantly stated that we have difficulty doubting them. Here's Part III of a collection of often-misapplied adages.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Balancing talk time and the value of the contributionComing March 29: Virtual Blowhards
Controlling meeting blowhards is difficult enough in face-to-face meetings, but virtual meetings present next-level problems, because techniques that work face-to-face are unavailable. Here are eight tactics for controlling virtual blowhards. Available here and by RSS on March 29.
kudzu enveloping a Mississippi landscapeAnd on April 5: Listening to Ramblers
Ramblers are people who can't get to the point. They ramble, they get lost in detail, and listeners can't follow their logic, if there is any. How can you deal with ramblers while maintaining civility and decorum? Available here and by RSS on April 5.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenelmkmLXcnoopDTKyner@ChacalTeaIiQfqKoIHMSoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

Changing How We Change: The Essence of Agility
MasteChanging How We Change: The Essence of Agilityry of the ability to adapt to unpredictable and changing circumstances is one way of understanding the success of Agile methodologies for product development. Applying the principles of Change Mastery, we can provide the analogous benefits in a larger arena. By exploring strategies and tactics for enhancing both the resilience and adaptability of projects and portfolios, we show why agile methodologies are so powerful, and how to extend them beyond product development to efforts of all kinds. Read more about this program. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

Conflict Resolution Skills for Leaders
ConflConflict Resolution Skills for Leadersict is inherent in collaborative work. When conflict is constructive, it produces better outcomes. When it's destructive, it can be an insurmountable obstacle to success. In this program, we explore the connections between the outcomes of collaboration and conflict in both of its forms. And we emphasize the skills needed most by leaders. The leader's task is to manage conflict so as to ensure that the group achieves its objective with its capacity to collaborate intact, or even enhanced. Rick Brenner shows team leaders and team sponsors the techniques they need to manage team conflict for relationship safety and better outcomes. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Influencing Outcomes Without Authority
Your Influencing Outcomes Without Authorityability to influence others — whether upward, downward, laterally, or within a team — always depends on both the quality of your relationships with the people you influence, and on your perception and their perception of your personal power. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you the techniques for making things happen not by using formal organizational power, but by using informal, personal power. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Times
When Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Timesa project team is on task, the contributions of leaders are important, and little noticed. Sometimes the team encounters unexpected difficulty, or requirements change, or budgets are reduced, or any of a number of other things might happen. In these cases, the leader must make or facilitate decisions about how to respond or how to revise the plan. We get through it somehow. Hard times are something else altogether. Despondency, disillusionment, resource shortages, unexpected and severe failure of the plan, and toxic conflict can erode morale. How can leaders deal with such situations? Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Technical Debt: A Workshop for Enterprise Leaders
TechnTechnical Debt Management for Enterprise Leadersical debt is more than mere IT jargon. It's a metaphor that refers to the accumulation of technical artifacts that really ought to be retired, replaced, rewritten, re-implemented, or, if absent, created. We can find technical debt in almost any system, including those that seem to be working well. So what's the problem? The problem is the "interest charges." Systems carrying technical debt are more difficult to maintain, more difficult to extend or enhance, and more difficult to use, than they would be if we "retired" the debt. This engaging and eye-opening program points the way to a path that leads your organization out of technical debt, to make it more adaptable, more transformable, and more agile. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.