The Latest

Useful Atrophy: Breadth vs Depth

Reading Time: 1 minutes

I recently read a very engaging short post from Neal Ford that discussed the knowledge pyramid and the changes to it that should occur when a software devleoper transitions into an architect role. As I myself transition to trying to broaden my knowlege and transition to a new position at a new org (SO EXCITED!), the discussion really resonated with me.

This far, it’s probably safe to say that I was a learning experience (instructional) designer/developer. I was a boots on the ground sort of person (an idea I discussed in my ID as product person post). In my new position, I see development as still being an important part of my skillset but I also see more opportunities to act as a consultant and architect, discussing performance goals for a course and, in the words of Ford, “matching capabilities to technical constraints.” Coupled with my own desire to move beyond the limited dev work and tools I’ve been doing, to read more widely, and think about ideas more critically, I can see myself (in my ID role) as needing to shift my perspective a little bit. I should be reading the research and other literature, and exposing myself to a broad array of resources and tools available. One of the quotes from the article that most stuck out to me was this:

Thus, for architects, the wise course of action is to sacrifice some of your hard won expertise and use that time to broaden your porfolio. Some areas of expertise will remain, probably around particularly enjoyable technology areas […] while others usefully atrophy.

Neal Ford

I love that because it is an admission that, to make this shift for myself and for others, we do have to let some things go. For a while, at least, I may not be using the rapid elearning tools as much as I begin to focus in on reading, gamedev, and JavaScript. So those skills may atrophy. And that’s OKAY. It was great to see that tradeoff acknowledged an even called useful.

Drop a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *