Our industry is often still very slow in adopting cultural changes in terms of the perception of the people around us.
The first change that has occured over the past 5 years was a shift from the very old and stable “government-job” paradigm to a newer paradigm of dynamic “performance-and-talent-based” jobs for information-workers. This shift still hasn’t occured 100% yet, but I would say we are over the threshold hill in getting there.
The second change happened quicker, and I feel that a lot of us still dont get it.
A lot of us are still in an old paradigm where you had to be super-specialized in one field of your career, or as I call it, a “one-trick pony”, and that it was BAD to be a jack-of-all-trades.
I’ve met people who even scoff at people who have diverse experiences as being jack-of-all-trades. I’ll be straighforward: these people are fools, and you should never work for them.
I call a jack-of-all-trades an “Information Worker 2.0”.
The truth these people are choosing not to see is that we’ve entered into a world where no one is specialized, yet everyone is an expert.
Take an engineer who blogs about his favourite web2.0 products. He’s now an engineer, a publisher of a magazine about web2.0 products, a community PR representative, AND a product reviewer.
No one teaches him how to do each of these — he just learns it through mistakes and through feedback of his “customers” (i.e. readers)
But that’s a good thing — bloggers that are coming out of the “here’s my thoughts and poems and the things I did today” paradigm to actually start contributing to the global repository of knowledge are very impressive.
People like TM and TelecomPK and others are people who spend their time to filter out niche-information, fact-check it, write it up in a readable manner AND then provide “customer service” without being paid for it. As a result, the who whole world benefits.
A similar argument applies to other information workers — the dynamics of almost every market, but particularly the software and IT markets, that flexibility to change is becoming one of the most sought-after behavorial skills in engineers, designers and marketers.
In addition, functional best practices are overlapping from many different industries as the world tries to move forward. I’ll write about this someday, but what we saw as best practices in the consumer electronics industry in 2001-2002 is not beginning to get applied in software distirbution. The same thing with marketing – technology marketing is learning a lot from consumer goods marketing.
Finally, even architecture patterns are very rapidly evolving and learning from other industries. It’s not enough to say you’re a “Web developer” anymore because web architecture has been thrown head-first into the pool of desktop application architecture and even embedded systems! Most good web applications today will use embedded systems architecture patterns for server-side logic.
The skills-sets that will be absolutely essential in the near term for technology firms that are involved in marketing, design or engineering will be people with very diverse set of skills — diverse in industries, technology stacks, domains what have you.
Here is a nice presentation that describes this phenomenon in a light way.
If you dont like hiring Jack-of-all-trades, there’s something wrong with you.