Generalized Specialist ApproachSaqib Javed John, PMP, PMI-ACP, ITIL
The concept of ‘Agility in General’ or ‘General Agility’ is broadly classified under the agile umbrella which expresses constant inspection and adaptation. Large complex projects in distributed environment generate the strong need of generalized framework and practices. A generalist is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none, whereas a generalizing specialist is a jack-of-all-trades and supper skilled of a few which makes a big difference in value delivery. The people who are generalizing specialists are in the “sweet spot” between the two extremes of being either just a specialist or just a generalist. Generalizing specialists are often referred to as multi-disciplinary, cross-functional, deep generalists and versatilists.
The team who has capability of working knowledge in a variety of roles known as the team of generalized specialists. Generalized specialist also does not mean a jack of all trades. In fact, the purpose of generalized agility is to uncover the better ways of doing specific task and also helping others to do. Strong critical thinking, exploratory business analysis, fearless refactoring and automation are the basic prerequisites to grow team of generalized specialists who can make a huge productivity difference.
Specialists usually become bottlenecks, reducing overall team efficiency, when work queues up with them but a generalizing specialist is someone with a good grasp of how everything fits together who believes in less documentation and improved flexibility. Generalizing specialists are more effective, visible, transparent and palatable and contributes in any way that they can.
In a nutshell, Agile is not prescriptive in nature and there is no black and white world anymore, hence the approach of utilizing agile generalizing specialists approach is the need of current times to deal and scale various needs, situations and complexities for today’s business world. Specialization is for insects and Generalized Specialization Framework is for human being.