I am starting the year with two mentees: one in China and one in Russia. We meet every two weeks. In both cases the mentees drive the agenda. They state their career goals and ask me to help in specific ways.
These meetings are a fascinating opportunity to discover the intersections and differences between cultures. It still surprises me how my software engineering business relationships have not only become increasingly international, but also geographically distributed.
The mentoring relationships began in the context of EMC's Fellow and Distinguished Engineer (FDE) mentoring program. As each new class of FDEs is inducted, they have the opportunity to be trained as a mentor. Global employees that wish to follow the FDE track now have a pool of accomplished mentors to choose from.
After several discussions with my Russian mentee (Alexey), we have arrived at a mentoring engagement strategy that is worth socializing. We have decided that an output of our mentoring engagement will include two re-usable assets:
- An educational use case on innovation, targeted at aspiring innovators.
- An educational use case on innovation mentoring, targeted at Fellows and Distinguished Engineers.
Here are the steps that we followed to arrive at our decision:
- Alexey shared that one of his primary goals is to innovate in his area of expertise.
- I shared my opinion that Venn Diagram Innovation builds on expertise and sent him a PDF copy of the book fully describing this approach.
- Alexey read the book and responded with a desire to teach the Venn Diagram method to his peers in Russia.
- I responded that he could better teach the course once he had followed the model and achieved some sort of result.
- He agreed to document his own experiences as he intentionally applied himself to innovation in his area of expertise. Let's call this an "Innovation Mentee Story".
- I agreed to document the advice I give him during the mentoring sessions (and any actions I take in between the mentoring sessions). Let's call this the "Innovation Mentor Story".
- He agreed that the Innovation Mentee Story would not only have appeal when shared with his Russian co-workers, but it would likely have global appeal if shared with EMC's Global Innovation Best Practices Community.
- I agreed that the Innovation Mentor Story would be a valuable asset to the Fellow and Distinguished Engineer community, who could likewise borrow from this approach and help other mentees to innovate.
During our mentoring engagement, Alexey will begin to build an Innovation Mentee Story. This story will describe the outline of Venn Diagram Innovation, and then fill in his personal experiences as he tried to apply the approach.
I will begin to build an Innovation Mentor Story. This story will also describe the basics of Venn Diagram Innovation, and I will contribute the customized advice and help that I gave to Alexey as he attempted to innovate in his area of expertise.
These assets can then be re-used by our co-workers.
Our final agreement (which has led to this blog post) is that we can share this story publicly, in the hopes that others in the industry can either benefit from the approach, or contribute suggestions to help us improve our experience as we go along.
This first post begins the Innovation Mentoring Tale.