The Rise of the Generalist

If I could paraphrase the title of the Anthony Robbins powerfully popular book, I would pen one myself named “Awaken the Consultant Within”.

There are many paradigm shifts in technology and business. Some are cyclic, and some are simply evolving methods which gain strength for varying durations. What had become a strong trend in the last few years in technology is the rise of the generalist.

By generalist, I simply mean a person who possesses moderate to strong knowledge of many areas, usually with specific strength in at least one region.

Leading up to the 2000s we saw very strong trends to have singular strengths in more narrow fields of technology which defined people as SME (Subject Matter Experts). Certifications were the top target for consultants as we saw the move away from “paper MCSE” to the Windows 2000 era and the growth of the WIntel environments.

As a consultant through these years I was often led by recruiters and colleagues towards very specific products and told that the key to being a top consultant was to be the best at one single thing.

Fast forward to 2012 and my sense of the market is that the “jack of all trades” is becoming the strong suitor for consultancy roles and anywhere within the IT organization.

Particularly within the virtualization space it is a great advantage, if not a requirement, to understand storage, networking, hardware, database, Internet and intranet technologies as well as business analysis. You have to embrace every part of the technology chain and also understand how the end product is being consumed by the customer.

Top that off with the change to insourcing many exciting projects which would have at one time been put out to tender to “experts” which was what the outside consultant was seen as.

Now it is to your advantage as an internal resource to do what I referred to in the first paragraph which is to awaken the consultant within you. What this means is to bring the passion and methods that were traditionally seen used by project consultants to your day to day workload.

It will be of great value to grow your skill-set and broaden your abilities to include strong documentation, authoring great articles, coaching, automation and inevitably one or more types of scripting. I would also add that it is a great advantage to have understanding of the RDBMS environments as well as being able to work with tools to gather information from analytic source data.

An important part of this is that you do not necessarily need to be at expert level with each of the areas of coverage, but you should have an intermediate understanding at the very least. With the wide array of information sources and communities available to us, there really is no limit to what you can do to enhance your information tool-kit.

Become a self promoter for yourself, your team and your company. I firmly believe that this will give you a marketability within and even beyond your organization. Widen your reach of knowledge into neighboring areas of technology and it will give you a stronger understanding of your specialization.

These skills can create a path in your organization towards a strong future *

* Necessary disclaimer: future is not guaranteed.

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