3 skills or you want to be a nutter like me

by Brian Katz on June 8, 2012 · 0 comments

I had the distinct privilege last night to appear on the Cloudcast podcast with Brian Gracely (@bgracely) and Aaron Delp (@aarondelp) (Editor’s note – you can find the episode here). It was a fun 40-minute conversation filled with a few bloopers (my daughter decided to print her history paper in the middle of the podcast and we won’t talk about the present the dog left) and a nice focus on mobility. We covered a lot of topics ranging from BYOD to CoIT, apps vs crapplications, and MDM, MAM, and MIM. What you don’t realize though is there’s a little dirty secret to the Cloudcast, the best conversation starts the second they turn the microphone off.

We had the privilege of talking for almost another 40 minutes after the podcast was over and it was a great exchange of ideas. The last question they asked I wanted to share with all you who are silly enough to read the ramblings of a nutter, “To work in mobility and succeed, what are three things people should do now (learning wise) or what 3 skills should they have?” This is a real interesting question as far as mobility goes and although I started to answer with specific skills, as I thought about it, I realized that the skills needed to do the sorts of things I do aren’t all that different than most other jobs.

You see, there is a bunch of technical stuff I do and a lot of experience that goes with being able to understand a lot of what is going on out there. You do need a good understanding of the nitty gritty points when you are doing some of the engineering that I do but that is just straight learning. That wasn’t really what Brian and Aaron were asking about though. They wanted to know how you go about rolling out some of the solutions we had talked about during the podcast, like building a BYOD program in the enterprise, building apps instead of crapplications, and understanding how to go about managing devices, apps and data.

The types of skills that you need to do those sorts of things aren’t that different than dealing with similar things in the cloud arena, or infosec or anywhere else. The biggest one of those is to always be learning. Despite what you may think, you don’t know everything. I know I certainly don’t (yes, those reading along at home now have me on record saying that). There are a lot of smart people out there and you should take the time to talk to them. They may not even be in your discipline, but that’s not a bad thing, because they will help bring fresh perspectives to the work that you do. Even better, realize that everything is connected these days. While everyone still talks about breaking down silos, you need to understand that in many cases they are still there. That shouldn’t preclude you from taking a multidisciplinary approach to your work. When I approach projects from an architecture perspective, I need to think about things such as networking, security, and legal. They are all going to have a bearing on the project as a whole and if I refuse to look at them early on and consider them, it can be disastrous later. The funny thing is, when you show that you care about this stuff, the people whose job it is are more likely to want to help and step in. They know you’re going to listen and take their input and that you care about the results.

Another of the skills that you need is the ability to look at the big picture and understand the end results. It’s really tough to execute on a project when no one has defined what the business objectives of the project are. You may have requirements and you can build your system, but without business objectives, use cases and a clear end state, there is very little chance that your project can be truly successful in the end. You may have built an absolutely awesome bread slicer but if no one wants paper thin slices of bread that aren’t going to use your solution.

Since Brian and Aaron asked me for three skills (there are certainly more than that) I think the last big one is don’t be afraid to fail. You are going to make mistakes, lots of them in your career. The key is to figure out why you made the mistake, how you can do it differently and most of all owning up to the mistake. The only issue with making mistakes, is making the same mistake twice, it means that you didn’t learn the first time. That’s why you figure out why you made the mistake and how to avoid it. Owning up to it gives you more credibility and trust with the people that you consistently work with. They know that it isn’t a blame game and you take responsibility. As part of failing, you need to learn to ask for help. If you don’t know how to do something ask someone who does.  If they have already made the same mistake they will be eager to help you avoid it as well.

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” – Samuel Smiles

As my closing words for people who want to build stuff (that’s what I really do, sometimes just ideas), remember to dream big, very little is truly impossible and just because something can’t be done today doesn’t mean it can’t be done tomorrow.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: