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New Technologies Require New Organizational Approaches
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JimD-ITguy
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JimD-ITguy,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 4:03:08 AM
re: New Technologies Require New Organizational Approaches
PT, I agree that the analyst who can bridge the business and IT is extremely valuable. Further, you should definitely construct your business-aligned team with plenty of such analysts to enable IT to construct an optimal solution for the business. Thanks for the addition. Best, Jim
PT Lam
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PT Lam,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 3:57:32 AM
re: New Technologies Require New Organizational Approaches
Hi Jim,

I'm not sure the kind of "generalist" you mentioned refers to a role like business analyst.

If so, I don't think a "generalist" is just a guy who "practices administrative skills" with a little bit of IT knowledge. He is the guy who bridges the gap between business and IT, which is the task that most "IT experts" have long failed to accomplish.

PT
JimD-ITguy
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JimD-ITguy,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 11:52:29 PM
re: New Technologies Require New Organizational Approaches
Dear MyWor1d and dangeluc,

Let's see if I can state it more clearly... what I am suggesting is that there is a vast difference between someone who is an expert practitioner in one infrastructure area (say servers) who can apply his engineering skill more broadly versus a generalist, who has no in depth mastery of any one component area and is practicing 'administrative skills' across a broad range of decisions. When I have seen organizations make key decisions by such generalist (versus an expert apply his skills more broadly), I have seen much poorer choices and results that then had to be remediated.

The key point is: leveraged business knowledgeable experts to handle those functions aligned best to the business, and leverage strong teams of experts to drive high performance for those functions best aligned as utilities. Feel free to augment either team with outside experts that can lend value, but don't burden either team with generalists, that do not understand any of the underlying technologies. I would suggest these teams easily outperform a team of generalists. And by the way, my read of the labor market is that no one wants to be called a generalist.

Now, let's talk about risk and your statement that risk is just one of several business drivers. Please recalibrate to the framework I laid out and one often used where a comprehensive set of drivers for a service or product are:
- business feature or capability
- cost or efficiency
- quality
- time to market
- regulatory and risk

Generally, you work to optimize all of these dimensions. But the point of the post is that to optimize business feature or capability and time to market, you need to align closer to the business. And to optimize cost, quality, and risk (or regulatory) goals, you centralize or leverage a utility. Note, most companies have one Chief FInancial Officer and one Chief Risk Officer or Head of Legal Counsel for a reason - so they can control these domains across all of their business units. So let's not confuse risk as a 'business' driver, while it is inherent in any business activity, modern operational risk practices have clearly defined domains outside of the germane business products, features and services. Yes, you do want to integrate how you handle risk, particularly operational risk within a business units practices, but that does not mean it is common with business features or capabilities.

Perhaps this provides more clarity in these areas. Best, Jim

MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
3/12/2013 | 2:03:05 PM
re: New Technologies Require New Organizational Approaches
dangeluc, I find two others gems in the article, "Build multi-disciplinary teams to design and implement these offerings" and "let your best component engineers learn adjacent fields." And what do you get as a result? The generalist which is a high value commodity in a profession gravatating more to micro specialization. I've known many companies that left little question in their desires, lower salaried generalists for day-to-day maintenance and the occasional, high cost outsourced specialist if needed to supplement on a project basis. The accompanying graphic resembles many of the inflexible siloed structures of years past. This author seems to have once again published an article that muddles his overall affermation.
dangeluc
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dangeluc,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2013 | 2:28:36 AM
re: New Technologies Require New Organizational Approaches
"In essence, there are business and market drivers that value speed, business knowledge and closeness at a reasonable cost and risk drivers that value efficiency, quality, security and consistency."

Nope. Risk drivers are just different business drivers. One of the value of generalists is that they understand this.

I am a bit confused by the entire line of argumentation in this article. It seems that I could sum it up, "Don't hire just generalists, but hire generalists with specific skills that they can bring to the table." Hardly revolutionary. And in that case, what value do the skills-specific staff really have beyond being the farm team for the future generalists? Why not outsource the skills specific stuff and focus on hiring those engineers with the ability to be generalists, even if that means going to the external market?

I figured I was going to see something about how companies should leverage core technical skills in areas where they can differentiate the best. Instead, I see things like this:

"Assign architects or lead engineers to focus on software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service, ensuring that you have robust estimating and costing models and solid implementation and operational templates."

If technical staff had the ability to do robust estimating and costing, and see the big picture well enough to do solid implementation and operational templates, we would have a new name for those people: generalists.


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