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Specialists & Generalists: Team up for Success


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Presentation given at the 2015 Kansas City Developer Conference (#kcdc2015) that gives a plan for Generalists to find their way onto teams at all levels of a company, and for Specialists to help become more integrated.

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Specialists & Generalists: Team up for Success

  1. 1. Specialists & Generalists Team  up  for  Success!   Heather Wilde, CTO ROCeteer
  2. 2. Titanium  Sponsors   Pla0num  Sponsors   Gold  Sponsors  
  3. 3. 3 Hi, I’m Heather They call me the Unicorn Whisperer. Attended a Liberal Arts college. Startup & Corporate Veteran for over 15 years. Former Evernote Executive. Chief Technical Officer of a company that coaches and advises executives around the world. I am absolutely a Generalist.
  4. 4. WHICH  ONE   ARE  YOU?    
  5. 5. Much faster and more effective with the right types of projects Require fewer transitions between projects or roles to feel fulfilled Tend to get bored less quickly than generalists (especially if they are technical folks working on challenging problems.)   BENEFITS Versatile, resourceful, and learns new skills at a speed that most specialists will never have. Can find the solution to any problem, then set up a process for others to solve it predictably thereafter.   Truly great generalists are rare, and difficult to identify. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with someone who isn’t really good at anything at all.   Cost more (often much more) than generalists, by virtue of supply and demand. Are harder to recruit. If your company shifts goals, the specialist will either be rendered useless or quickly become disengaged. DETRIMENTS BENEFITS DETRIMENTS
  6. 6. HOW  CAN   THEY  WORK   TOGETHER?    
  7. 7. Knows Google-Fu Action Oriented DecisiveCommunicative Generalists can execute with little to know information, and will figure things out while working The generalist among you will have the most persistent browser tabs for quick access to research anything, anytime. When a decision needs to be made, they can make one quickly and move on. Generalists like to give updates on what they are doing, and encourage communication GENERALIST SPOTTING It’s  Specialized-­‐Generalist  Incep0on!  
  8. 8. Project Managers, Agile, Customer Care   Sales, Business Development, Partnerships   Researchers, Administrative workers   PROCESS DEAL INFORM GENERALIST SPECIALTIES Finding  the  right  place  in  your  team  
  9. 9. TEAM UP Penny,  meet  Sheldon.   Natural Networker Tends toward Isolation Loves Structure Loves a Challenge Specialists generally hang with their own crowd, and the more specialized, the smaller the crowd. Your Generalist is a natural networker. Let them take the lead in introductions. See those “resources” that the generalists need to solve problems? Yeah, those are specialists. Give them problems to solve, they’ll be happy. Generalists love to solve problems and take on challenges. Give them access to resources and they will direct a project.
  10. 10. “ ” “It’s like a jazz band —although each musician is autonomous and plays their own instrument, they listen to each other.” Henrik Kniberg STARTUP: You need people that can switch from meeting with customers, to balancing the books, to sweeping the floor without blinking. MID-STAGE: Add in more specialists in strategically critical areas like building out your competitive advantages and revenue generation. MATURE: You can add functional specialists and give them career paths as well. SIZE MATTERS OK,  Be  Honest!    
  11. 11. ARE  WE   BETTING  THE   FARM  ON   ONE  GUY?  
  12. 12. GETTING THE RIGHT MIX Avengers,  Assemble!   Teams  beat  individuals  every  1me.       Generalists  can  apply  their  hands  to  most  things,  but   they’re  never  going  to  master  everything.       Specialists  are  best  placed  in  roles  where  they  work   alongside  other  team  members,  rather  than   separately.     Make  good  use  of  your  specialists  by  integra=ng  them   with  your  generalists  and  posi=oning  them  to  guide,   teach,  and  ins=ll  passion  in  your  teams.  
  14. 14. 16 With a well functioning team, you can decrease your project time by up to 50%.   BECOMING ADEPT
  15. 15. ACQUIRE DEVELOP ENCOURAGE PLAN TRANSITION Recruit, attract, and onboard the right people Assess and build skills and knowledge Direct, support, recognize, and reward Monitor, assess, plan career moves over time Migrate to different roles as appropriate
  16. 16. 19   Guilds     Forming  a  guild  allows   common  solu0ons  to  be   communicated.  It’s  an   opportunity  to  share   experiences  among   teams.   Brown  Bags     Encourage  healthy  debate   among  colleagues  with   whom  you  don’t  necessarily   collaborate  on  a  regular   basis.   Open  Source     Give  everyone  the  ability  to   contribute  to  your  source  code   or  designs  by  replacing  0cket-­‐ based  systems  with  a  model   similar  to  GitHub’s  pull  requests.   Hack  Days     Hack  days  allow  people  to  work  with   colleagues  they  wouldn’t  normally   work  with,  in  a  situa0on  where  fresh   ideas  are  encouraged  and  innova0on  is   rewarded.   FOSTERING GROWTH Oh,  you  thought  you  were  done?  
  17. 17. #AskMeAnything @heathriel @roceteer_inc