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.
6 thoughts on “V is for Versatilist”
[…] some time now I’ve been discussing the idea of a versatilist as someone whose numerous roles (across business, science and the arts) assignments and experiences […]
[…] them. Solving wicked problems needs an innovative approach and the use of design thinking. A versatilist is someone who knows how to apply design thinking and can orchestrate the skills of multiple […]
[…] Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Together with a colleague I am developing the concept of the versatilist (first coined by Gartner) as a role that effectively brings together both right- and left-brain […]
[…] I have blogged before, I believe that whilst good “generalizing specialists” can also make good architects […]
[…] and innovative designs. Top tip: Deploy interdisciplinary teams of multi-talented people (i.e. true versatilists) to solve hard design problems. Even if you don’t get the book at least visit the link […]
[…] As with any job IT architecture is x% slog and routine and y% creativity, inspiration and creating great ideas or opportunities. By working on the linchpin attributes rather than the cog attribute you can hopefully increase y at the expense of x. I think this resonates well with these skills and my manifesto here. […]