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A Generalist in an Age of Specialization

Recently I came across two sets of philosophies in development/hiring. The first set often would advertise for a System-Analyst (or Senior System Analyst) and in the job description it is clear that they are looking for someone that is:

  • Part Product Manager
  • Part Project Manager
  • Part Architect
  • Part Development Manager
  • Part Developer (often in a half dozen languages and databases)
  • Part Tester

The other set has nice clean segmentation of job roles, you are one of:

  • Product Manager, or
  • Project Manager, or
  • Architect, or
  • Development Manager, or
  • Developer (often with just 1 language), or
  • Tester.

The first set tends to spend their time doing, the second set spends their time communicating. It is not a “big firm” versus “small firm” thing; although bigger, older firms will often shift into the second set as their mature and a different class of people start being hired. The first set has accountability being very clear. The second set has fingers pointing back and forth resulting in a Gordian knot of responsibilities.

Personally, I prefer the first pattern because things get done….