Time for a bit of a philosophical ramble.
Whichever field we work in and at whatever level we are at, it appears that the landscape is becoming more and more complex. And we seem to be constantly bombarded with messages reminding us of this.
- New regulations to get to grips with otherwise your business is at risk.
- New technology which you must buy otherwise you will fall behind.
- New buzz-words to understand otherwise you sound out of touch.
- If you want to do anything you need someone with the specialised skills – usually some sort of “Architect”.
- You must have attended the right training course otherwise you cant possibly know what you’re doing.
- Are you applying the in-vogue management styles?
Messages designed to sow seeds of doubt.
This is not going to change.
I don’t care who you are or what you do, there is no getting away from the fact that this pace of change, the rise of specialists, the feeling that you are out of touch, out of your depth, running to catch up is unsettling. Seeds of doubt have a tendency to take root.
But I do wonder if this is justified (or is it just me?).
See I am unashamedly old school. When I started my IT career I had absolutely no IT qualifications whatsoever (actually I still haven’t). I just got lucky. I got a break. Back then you were either a programmer or analyst. The term “architect” was reserved for people who designed buildings. If you needed to do something you did it. If you didn’t know how to do something you found out (read a book with actual paper pages!). When I moved into management positions there was no training supplied – you just got on with it. This I think led to people of my generation developing into “all-rounders”. Perhaps not experts. Perhaps not formally trained. But knowing enough about enough to get the job done. Developing the confidence to tackle new challenges. Being able to pick up new skills and techniques “on the fly”. Not worrying about how something was going to get done but focussing on what needed to be done. And then making sure it was done – properly.
So now when I see the latest flavour of the month being splashed around the Internet I have to try and strip it back to its bones to see if there is anything genuinely new, or if its an incremental improvement of what has gone before (which is good) or simply a re-branding exercise in an attempt to drum up some business (which is not so good though inevitable).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no luddite. And despite how this may read I am not Methuselah. But I think sometimes we all need to remember that there is very little new under the sun. Yes there have been technical innovations. But data is still bits and bytes. A database is still a database whatever you call it. Stakeholder management just means getting on with people. Project governance just means being clear about what people do. Communication skills means being clear and unambiguous in what you say.
It can be easy to feel out of step. But by not getting swept along with the hype and applying a bit of common sense or independent thinking we can march to our own beat but go in the same direction as everybody else.