PCMAGs encyclopedia provides a good working definition of a Third-Party App: An application that is provided by a vendor other than the manufacturer of the device. For example, the iPhone comes with its own camera app, but there have been camera apps from third parties that offered advanced features such as a self-timer and simple editing.
Tech leaders have long embraced third-party development—either in hardware, such as adding a graphics card to your PC, or software, such as adding small or large programs to your Autodesk tools. It allows you to tap into the extended creativity and efforts from those who are not originally involved in the creation or expansion of the hardware or software.
Many device developers could not have seen the embrace and expansion of their devices without third-party developers making so many great apps. From small to large, the many offerings that are out there can be overwhelming at times. They all help you get your job done. They expand your productivity, increase your connectivity, and unleash your creativity.
But what about third-party apps for your leadership or career? What would they be? How would you find them? What would they do?
First, let me expand the concept of third-party “apps.” I want you to think of third party as people. These people are those who might assist you in getting your job done. Anyone who expands your productivity, increases your connectivity, and unleashes your creativity is, in my thinking, a third-party “chap.” Sorry for the pun. Sorry for the male only connotation of that term—I speak of all genders, but needed a word that rhymed with app. So now that you are thinking of chaps instead of apps, let’s dive in.
Leaders need people to get things done. Some leaders have direct reports and can assign work to them. Others do not have any direct reports and need to get things done through people who do not work for them. They have no authority to make them do anything. If this describes you then you need to cast a vision that attracts others to your goals. You need to see where they might fit in and offer to have them engaged. Be sure to provide clear expectations: What they can and cannot do. Get good at delegating by defining the task, stating the resources that can be used, setting a timeline, and marking out areas that they should not include. Scoping tasks is part of the delegation. Most people will appreciate knowing what is expected. Make sure you clearly outline that they should tell you if they cannot finish a task. Remember, they do not work for you. Their available time is controlled by others.
Keep expanding the list of available staff that might help you out. Keep track of which folks get things done and which ones are unable to complete on time. Hone the list to those you can invest in and reap returns. Invest your time, talent, and support, and return the favor by helping them get something done.
Most leaders know that they need to create and nurture a network of people who can assist them when needed. You know that in order to have a good network you have to be a good person for others to have in their network. You do this by helping others to connect. Stay connected and connect others.
Make sure you touch base every so often. It might be a quick email, a phone call, or a meeting. Whatever it is, keep it up. This is hard for some folks (me included). By connecting to others you get an opportunity to expand you network and to be of service to others.
Tapping into other peoples’ brains is one of the most valuable applications I can make in advancing my career, leadership, and friendship with others. It is a mutual exchange of ideas. You should regularly pick the brains of others. Ask for input. Provide input when asked. Listen more than you speak. The best ideas are often dropped into conversations that flow on to other things. Follow up with someone who mentioned an interesting idea and dig a little deeper.
Ask for others to critique your plans and ideas. Run them past others who might disagree with your focus. Run them past allies to refine them. Take it all in and improve your targets. Blend together creative ideas that allow you to mix them into new recipes for success. Find out what others are doing in differing markets and see how you might apply their productivity to your own area. Ask to see their standards. Share your own. Ask about software upgrades and how they did the training. Ask them what third-party apps they are adding onto the foundation that Autodesk has laid.
Tapping Into Remote “Chaps”
You can also tap into remote connections via the AUGI Forums. Today’s opportunities for interacting go way beyond geographic locations. It is nice to meet face to face when you can, but reaching across a continent is fantastic. Frequent the Forums. Dive into the discussion groups.
Thinking Third Party
So here is the definition that I can provide to frame your thinking…
Third Party Chap: A person, other than yourself, who provides an idea, concept, or practice.
Tap into this wealth by interacting with others in new ways. Speak up, ask questions, and listen.