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Comment on @jukesie's Multi-hyphenates post...

dug dug Follow May 09, 2020 · 2 mins read
Matt Jukes on pi-shaped people
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@jukesie writes

More than anything it was the age of the generalist. So many people I know from 1998-2008 who made/make a living in this thing we call ‘digital’* wouldn’t tidily fit in any box. They did a little dev. Had some design skills. Understood usability. Could turn their hands at a little business analysis at a push. Understood what WebTrends was saying (ask your parents). Might be a demon with a CMS or an expert at writing for the web but generally could muddle through in a number of situations.

Most of us ended up calling ourselves Product Managers 🙂

True, Matt, or UX consultants, or service designers, but it does seem like we are condemmed to chase a moving target when it comes to job description and titles…

Over the time things got much more complicated. Fields got deep but narrow. This narrowness became a badge of honour somehow. Take a look at the Government Digital, Data and Technology capability framework. Actually a totally reasonable and not over the top articulation of the ecosystem of roles that you’ll find in most digital teams.

Thing is at some time or another I think I could make a case that I have held 10 of those roles and I don’t even consider myself having that broad a skillset compared to many.

Me too:-) You know, the framework is great, and a lot of very smart people invested their blood, sweat and tears getting us this far… But I still struggle to see many of these areas as separate “job families”.

There is also the pressure on the generalist from specialists who feel a negative impact on quality. Or in other words, it works great when teams have happy blends of super-powers but it works less well when we get in each other’s way.

Still, it’s up to us to play well together make it work:-)

The thing that prompted this remote comment (I think your comments on this post are closed) was your mention of “pi-shaped” people. I’ve just finished working at a Big4 consultancy where they were very keen to describe themselves as pi-shaped. I’m not sure how well that worked for them but I do like the idea in principle. It’s not so much the number of legs or stems you have, it’s just that digital culture and experience lives in a cluster of skills and activities, not just one.

Not sure where I’m going with this (not being constrained by 280 chars etc.) but I’m not comfortable being called a generalist, and I’m not comfortable picking which specialism I’m a specialist in.

I guess that leaves the space between the two:-)

(This content from Matt Jukes blog post entitled “Multi-hyphenates” on his blog “Digital by Default”. Also, thanks for continuing to blog and for hosting Weeknot.es)

Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. Please. (at least for now, until the boffins agree on some next steps)



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Written by dug Follow
Hiya, life goes like this. Step 1: Get out of bed. Step 2: Make things better:-)