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The Shift to Generalized Workers

by Benjamin Anderson 29. July 2009 21:16

Companies have begun a shift towards hiring and training more generalized workers instead of the more expensive specialized workers so highly sought after in the past.  This is especially true in the IT market.  Companies are hiring individuals with a breadth of knowledge instead of depth.  This means that the worker is capable of doing more and handling a wider range of tasks, but it also means that the individual might progress through a task slower than the specialist would.  But the advantage over the specialist is that the generalized knowledge makes them capable of doing the task in an area that the specialist for another area would no be able to find a starting ground.

The biggest tool in aiding this sift has been the vast knowledge base that is the Internet.  You don’t have to know all the answers, so long as you know where and how to find the answer.  Companies are increasingly using wikis, knowledge bases and document repositories to record the wealth of knowledge that they have access to through their employees.  The biggest drawback to this situation is that there isn’t an easy solution to the problem solving road blocks that are produces by having individuals with a shallow understanding on the issue at hand.

This was the entire reason I went with a general Computer Science degree instead of specializing in Software Engineering.  Small businesses can’t afford to have specialists in every area that they work in or deal in, and larger corporations are dealing with similar circumstances during hard economic times.

If you were having pains in your sides, but had not idea what the cause or alternate symptoms are then you wouldn’t know which specialist to go to for the answers.  The same situation applies to both large and small businesses now.  The more we depend on the Internet for knowledge and other resources, the more our knowledge has the be generalized.  The cultural interactions with other companies in other countries, the systematic interactions with a breadth of devices, and the legal and political issues related to doing business with other states and countries, make every business large and small require an almost infinitely broad knowledge of the world and everything in it.

The big problem isn’t the breadth of knowledge though, it’s being able to access and manage the depth of knowledge available at our fingertips.  We have unlimited amounts of information instantly available to us, but there isn’t a good way of find the information we’re looking for without already having the depth of knowledge of the situation at hand.

With generalization, we know where to take the first step, but the following steps are the journey and blind adventure.

That is the entire reason why I founded Simplified Solutions.  There are already tons of tools out there that are great at storing and securing your information and knowledge, but forgotten and inaccessible information is lost information.  How do you search for the answer you’re looking for when you don’t know exactly what the problem is or the terms used within the realm of your problem?  Right now you have to do a lot of research.  Right now you lose critical time and resources spinning your tires while you race around the world’s boundless information resources.

For many businesses their information resources and repositories have already reach the point that it is difficult to find the information that is already stored there.  The issue is made worse by the recursive destruction of the system’s on handicaps when managing and maintaining the information.

Current information stores are broken.  Search terms, tags and indexing will not help solve problems for a more generalized workforce.  It is time to start making the data and systems work for our workforce instead of increasing the work load as a result of these systems.  Because of this handicap Simplified Solutions is going to begin developing what I call Intelligent Knowledge Repositories (IKRs).  Simplified Solutions’ Assisted Knowledge and Troubleshooting Repository will be the first IKR developed for the IT market.  While the system will work for other markets and industries with little-to-no adapting, it fits best in the IT market where finding information and solutions in the fastest possible means available means saving thousands of dollars and hours of lost productivity.  The system could easily be adapted to the medical industry to help doctors find and research health conditions and ailments.

Simplified Solutions


Categories: software | startups | theory

Review: “Managing Humans” by Michael Lopp

by Benjamin Anderson 18. July 2009 20:08

“Managing Humans” is about Rand’s experience as a manager of developers.  It covers how to manage the different types of developers, interact with other managers from other departments, manage the hiring process and creating the proper environment for creative development and planning.

The book is meant for both the manager and the programmer and attempts to open the eyes of people in both positions.  I greatly recommend it for anyone that is managing development teams or for the programmers that have been forced into the management position.



Starbucks begins to serve beer and wine as test

by Benjamin Anderson 17. July 2009 15:31

Starbucks is adding beer and wine to their menu at a test site.  “15th Ave. Coffee and Tea inspired by Starbucks” will serve beer and wine along with Starbucks’ normal coffee and tea menu.

Some might think this is a horrible idea and a step in the wrong direction for the coffee company.  But the decision will probably be the first thing to drastically re-vamp the company during the recession slump and the drag in sales.  Starbucks has been a social “hub” for a while where people meet for business, social meet-ups and teen hang-outs, so the introduction of the alcohol with business and teen meet-ups has some people uneasy with the possibility.  The possibility of creating an environment for both early morning and afternoon business as well as the post-business hangouts.  The happy hour crowd will find a possibility in Starbucks as an alternative to restaurant bars, which don’t provide as comfortable environments for just hanging out and letting go.

Original story in USA Today.



Review: Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain

by Benjamin Anderson 15. July 2009 16:43

“Collapse of Distinction” is a book about means of defining and distinguishing yourself and your business among the millions of other businesses and people on planet.  In an ever increasing global market and competitive market we have make our businesses stand out using even the slightest differences.

The book starts off good and draws you in, but throughout the book I continued to expect McKain to complete a sentence or finish a story, but by the time I reached the end of the book I still had that feeling.  The book does not deliver.  Too many times the examples and stories used felt more like distractions rather than stepping stones, and the reader never reaches the point of actually learning anything.  Reading the cover and summary for the book have the same effectiveness as the entire book does is communicating the fact that there has to be differences to have distinction.


Categories: book review


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About the author

Benjamin is a software developer in the DFW area.  He spends his free time playing video games, programming, doing graphics design and photography, and reading.

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