In my own search for coming to understand what a generalist is, I came across yet another definition for a versatilists. The idea coined from Gartner is that this “new” breed has the ability to bridge the gap between thinking and doing. “Versatilists, in contrast, apply depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships, and assuming new roles.”
At first thought I seemed intrigued by this word. However, the more I thought, the more I concluded all in all I think it’s a bad title for something that’s been around forever. What I realized is that a versatilists, or at least my understanding of it, is another fancy term for teacher. Everyday teachers go into a classroom and no matter who the audience is, whether 5 or 65, they have the constant battle and challenge to put things in context that can be understood. They have a talent for putting things into a perspective or light that wasn’t seen before. Teachers are found in more places then just the classroom. Teachers do not always stick to curriculum and tests. Teachers often know a lot more than they let on. Teachers know a lot more than just one topic. Teachers bridge the gap between concept and application. Teachers can do a lot more than just “teach”.
This new term so far is focused primarily on the IT industry, and if you look at it in terms of a teacher, it makes sense. The gap in knowledge and culture between the doers and thinkers is so vast it makes the grand canyon look small. Programmers don’t understand marketing, and visa versa. The company I work for tries to use the all powerful Business Analyst, but these people just end up being isolated by both. So no wonder it would take a teacher who understands in depth the world of programming, to effectively “teach” and advise those who don’t know. This person can subtly educate the Board of Directors so they can truly understand the extent of a technology based proposal.
With today’s abuse and lack of acknowledgement of the educational profession in the western world, these people with this talent need to survive. They sure as hell aren’t going to go into the classroom, so why not the boardroom. I say call these people who they really are and by a name that they should be proud of – call them Teachers.