Thursday, March 27, 2008

Being a Generalist

There are many technical and business functions in my firm. I’ve done many of the technical functions such as development, testing, building hardware, and more. Yet, I haven’t kept current in all of these areas over the years. I keep familiar but not detailed knowledge. For the business functions, I’m familiar and have a deeper understanding when my project deems necessary.

I consider myself a generalist; I have high-to-mid level knowledge of the technical and business domains I support. I don’t intend to be a one person shop that has the knowledge and skills to do everything myself. My brain is only so big. Gathering a team of people provides the needed skills sets and establishes the project for better success – collapses critical path, balancing staffing and resources, and reduces stress.

For my personal training, I focus on having more detailed knowledge in PM tools and techniques. That’s where I can add the most value for the collective team. As a technical and business generalist, I’m familiar with these areas which enable me to ask intelligent questions on process, strategy, risk, and progress. Mostly, I’m able to concentrate on managing tasks and activities (and the people who make the project get done).

I don’t know the intricacies of building a house. However, I know that you need to dig the foundation and frame easily in the process. There are building inspections (external specs/requirements to follow) and many specialties involved (plumbing, electrical, framing, drywall, etc). As I continue with the house project, I’ll gain more specific knowledge. Over time, I’ll better understand dependent and parallel tasks. I’ll understand the flexibility of building inspections and more. I started as a generalist. As the project proceeded, I had the mid (or better) level knowledge of a house project. I gained the right knowledge, at the right time, to get the job done.

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