T vs. V and W Shaped People

A T-shaped person is capable in many things and expert in, at least, one.*

We talk a lot about hiring T shaped people at my current gig and I think it’s a misnomer for a couple of reasons.

First, it implies a ratio of depth to width that is askew. Developers and Admins in todays world have to be familiar with a really wide range of technologies and tools. Hell, you can’t even just develop anymore, you also have to understand deploy tools, repository caches and git. Git is more than traditional VCS as most of us have learned. This fun and frightening article explains some of the challenges of Javascript these days: How it feels to learn Javascript in 2016

Second, it makes it look like we’re only deep in 1 area. Who spikes down into, Linux without having some MySQL, Network, bash, python, etc. chops? And more than just a little across the Top of the T. As you get deeper into a specific area, you find that you need to bring other skills up (down) to a similar level. Maybe not quite as deep, but close. As you group your various depths together you start to look more V shaped. As you add deep skills in other areas, you might be a W shape. As a Liniux Admin, I transitioned into Hadoop Administration. I had to gain some skills around understanding of Java, HDFS, YARN, etc. along the way. While Linux is a part of Hadoop, Linux Admin skills are still different from Hadoop Admin Skill. So, I was a W. Working with Amazon Web Services is another skill area that is Wide. Understanding their offerings has certainly been challenging, from VPC’s and Redshift Clusters, to Route 53, IAM and more. Now I feel like a VW. 😀

Maybe the whole idea looking for people who have a skill is the wrong direction. Maybe, we should look for people who can learn and figure out how to solve problems. Otherwise we have to start looking for VWWVW people, and that’s hard to pronounce.


Grease Monkey ~~ GM

About Grease Monkey

Computer nerd since the 80's. Data nerd since the 90's. Generic nerd for a lifetime.
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