Taking a short break from my customer series to ask a silly question…

What are you good at?

This Thanksgiving week, I want to think about things we can be thankful for.  So lets start with those things that help us be valuable to those around us.Continue Reading

IT Staffing Talent

Skill – The ability to execute a practice, process, or procedure successfully; the ability to accomplish.

Competence – The ability to increase or acquire skill over time; the ability to grow in capacity.

Talent – The ability to decide which skill is best to apply, and/or invent and execute practice, process, or procedure, where no skill exist with reasonable success, and/or the propensity to gain competence in acquired skills.

If you take the definitions above from my prior post, you will start to recognize that much of what IT does requires talent. That skill and competence deal primarily with repetitive activities, that support an essential certainty about their execution. While these activities require decision making, the decisions and the decision criteria are constrained, they follow patterns.

Those of you who have spent their careers in IT will recognize that many of the activities that IT professionals do are not repetitive. They require invention, hypothesis, or discovery. These activities present new and unconstrained decisions. In short, they require talent.Continue Reading

IT Staffing Strategy Terminology

I am thinking about IT staffing strategy. In order to share my thoughts, I need to define some aspects of that strategy, and perhaps explain why I think they are important. I am not an OD guy, nor do I play one on TV. I have, however, observed and participated in management and leadership in information technology for over twenty years.

Earlier posts on IT Strategy including Goal Strategy Policy and Vision, Strategy, Policy are the beginnings of where these thoughts come from.

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IT Patterns and Practices

In my prior post ( ITStrategyInternals ) I explained a little about patterns and practices. Patterns and Practices within IT go hand in hand, in that we have an established solution, and a body of knowledge and expertise around that solution.

I think that we sometimes think that by selecting a tool, we have defined a pattern. So let me say, that patterns are at a higher level of abstraction than a tool. A pattern may require some tooling, but it should not be specific to a tool. The body of expertise around implementing a pattern with/through a specific tool is a practice. So ORACLE DBMS is not a pattern, but a data warehouse may be. Likewise, MQ Series is not a pattern, but a message bus may be. We may have a practice around implementing a message bus using MQ Series, or TIBCO, or Tellurian sockets or Oracle SOA Suite.

Tools are really only valuable, in that they enable the delivery of patterns. Tools can be anything from an integrated development environment (IDE) to a component library to an operating system. Programming languages are not tools, but editors and compilers are. Programming languages are patterns. SQL is not a tool, but MySQL is. SQL is a programming language that is a common part of a relational database pattern. We have come to expect that any tool that enables a relational database pattern implements some version of the SQL programming language.

Those of us who have been in this industry for a few years, realize that the players (tools) change pretty frequently. As a new pattern emerges and is perceived as valuable, it disrupts the market for a while, then the tools supporting the new pattern prosper, and the others diminish and sputter towards irrelevancy.Continue Reading

Hiring Talent

Hiring is a tricky business. We screen for experience. We screen for skill. How do you screen for talent? We should recognize that talent and skill are not the same thing. Skill is the ability to apply technique correctly. Talent goes beyond that. Talent includes the ability to know which technique will produce the right result. Talent is the ability to know when none of the techniques I know are a sure winner. Talent is the ability to quickly learn and assimilate new technique.

Talent != skill and experience – five years of c# programming experience does not equal talent.Continue Reading

Technique, Talent and Vision

Technique without talent is inefficient.

Some folks are just born with certain gifts and talents. They are smart in the right way to “just get it”. Whether it is music or leadership, or basketball, it doesn’t matter – some people are a “natural”. The rest of us have to learn the techniques and practice, practice, practice. While technique will get us pretty far, it will never catapult us into the same league as the natural talent. Our practice does not accomplish as much as the practice of the person with talent.

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