V is for Versatilist

On the IT architecture class that I teach in IBM we have a thing about saying IT architects should be T-shaped. What we mean by this is shown below.

Ideally an architect should have a good range of general skills and at least one deep skill. So an architect might be a good Java programmer for example but also have a broader range of skills including project management, negotiating skills, SOA or whatever.

A Gartner research note I discovered recently called The IT Professional Outlook: Where Will We Go From Here? (from 2005) predicted that by 2011 “70 percent of leading-edge companies will seek and develop “versatilists” while deemphasizing specialists.” It defines a versatilist as someone “whose numerous roles, assignments and experiences enable them to synthesize knowledge and context in ways that fuel business value”. This diagram better shows the versatilist skills therefore:

I like this because not only is the versatilist a V-shaped sort of guy, denoting a broad range of skills at a greater depth of understanding and practice, I believe these skills should be cross-discipline and yes, maybe even consist of right-brain as well as left-brain skills.

As mentioned in a previous post I believe that we architects need not only breadth, to quite a level of depth, but also a good range of skills across all disciplines if we are to come up with new ways of thinking to solve some of the wicked problems out there. Architects should therefore by V(ersatilist), not T-shaped.

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