The Generalizing Specialist: The Key To Success

Generalizing specialist

A generalizing specialist is simply someone who is multi-skilled. Such an individual can be a specialist in one or more technical disciplines while at the same time actively seeks to expand their skill set, which spans across different areas besides their present specialties. Generalizing specialists are also referred to as cross-functional developers, multi-disciplinary developers, and versatilists.

While they can become more skilled with time, don’t mistake them to be super skilled in every discipline. However, their technical knowledge and general software development knowledge, as well as a good understanding of their relevant business domains, can be critical to getting things done in real-time. The person can easily be redeployed based on the changes in business strategy or other necessary requirements to remain competitive.

Benefits being a generalizing specialist

We live in a fast-changing industry, where being a specialist in just a single discipline alone may not cut it in the larger scheme of things. Since generalizing specialists have knowledge on a broad range of issues, they can see the bigger picture and help make better decisions for greater productivity. As such, the available job opportunities will likely be more compared to specialists. Better yet, you will be able to attract better job offers.

Importance of generalizing specialists

Generalizing specialists are essential to developing high-performing agile teams in companies, and here are some of the reasons they are considered the key to success.

• Better collaboration

While a company will have different departments, they will be connected with others and geared towards accomplishing the same end goal. Communication and collaboration within the teams involved are important elements to achieving that goal, and this is something most specialists aren’t good at. When you don’t have a good understanding of how everything fits together, it’s very easy to look down on what your teammates are doing. Working together effectively might prove a challenging task.

Generalizing specialists are more likely to appreciate the work of others simply because they have a good grasp of different technical and domain disciplines. Their background allows them to understand the issues teammates are trying to find solutions to.

• Improved flexibility

The IT industry, by its very nature, faces significant changes that serious businesses must comply with to remain relevant. With a generalizing specialist, dynamic transition and allocation of the new tasks wouldn’t be a huge problem. Things would look quite different if a team is built of specialists that are just accustomed to doing the same type of tasks over and over again. In fact, this is considered to be risky, as it can result in productivity loss.

• Increased efficiency

Generalizing specialists bring less dependency, which can go a long way in increasing efficiency and productivity. The problem when working with specialists is that they can easily become bottlenecks, especially when they have a lot on their plate. There’s a good chance that multiple development teams will be looking up to the specialist, and this can negatively affect the overall team efficiency.

Conclusion

Generalizing specialists are surely taking over. There’s room for some specialists within IT departments, but as things look at the moment, more departments are moving towards becoming more agile. It’s not unlikely to see only a few specialists survive in the information technology industry over time.

Knowing How And When to Change Work

… We will have to stay mentally alert and engage during a 50-year work life, which means knowing how and when to change with the work we do.


–HBR’s 10 musut Reads : The Essentials, page 43