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Above in this comment thread:
2004-02-20 12:30 PM
peterbe: I can understand not wanting to pass up business opportunities. But I think taking literally any job that gets thrown at you is an anti-lifestyle-company policy, at least in my definition. You should be able to pick the jobs you want to do, because you can never be master of all trades; trying to do everything will water down the value you are able to provide to the customer, as well as your billable rate. Whenever I try to do that, I find myself in a phase of "working to learn" at all times where I can't really charge anything for the work I'm doing (ethically), because I know it's crap; it's crap because I've never done it before. So I do it but don't charge for it, and eventually I get good enough at it that I can start charging for it, but by that time, I've lost some tremendous number of hours to learning that thing. If I do work on that topic again, it's likely a wise investment. THe more work I do on that topic, the wiser it is. If I *never* do it again, it's a waste of time. So some specialization, where you work on stuff that you're familiar enough with to feel good about charging for it, I think is necessary. Just my $.02.
specializing, thinking inside the box
2004-02-23 07:38 PM
For some reason this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes on the memorial page for frank willison:
On Thinking Inside the Box
"This discussion reminds me of a former co-worker of mine (in a
school). Whenever she would argue with anyone, she would eventually
say, 'A mind is like a parachute--it only functions when open.' Of
course, it was the other person's mind that was always closed.
"What I told her, though, was: A mind is like a parachute--you should
open it only in certain very specific life-threatening situations. And
of course that's true--if every aviator walked around with an open
parachute, then flying would be as much of a mess as . . . well, as it
"Same's true with the box. Why is there a box? Because it holds things
together. It has a function. If you never think inside the box, cut up
the box. Think outside the box when the box is too confining, when
it's not doing its useful job of keeping things organized.
"Also, just like the question of who has an open mind, the interesting
question is who gets to decide what 'in the box' means in a particular
instance. That tells you more than the comment itself does.
"Maybe I'm sensitive to this issue because O'Reilly & Associates has
lots of people thinking outside the box, and part of my job is to
package things. I'm always running around, saying, "Hey! You! Where do
you think you're going? Get back in that box!"
Frank Willison (http://www.oreilly.com/news/frank_0701.html - check it out,
there's a lot of excellent stuff there)
Maybe i'm reaching, but i think that both specializing and thinking inside the box are judgement calls - i want to harvest the benefits of acquired expertise and familiarity when you can, and divert beyond that when you need to. That "when" is a judgement call. And even deciding where to land, where to develop the expertise has gotta take some mix of inside and outside, familiar and explore...
And thanks, chris, i like what you're saying. I'm not sure whether it's idealistic or pragmatic - and i like that best of all.
INNING: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 TOTAL
IDEALISTS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
REALISTS 1 1 0 4 3 1 2 0 2 0
Replies to this comment
finding the box (
2004-02-24 03:46 AM)