Like me, a number of our mentors have benefited from rotation programmes during their careers i.e. changing roles every few years. And, the main purpose behind these changes is broader development as a professional, including building new skills from fresh experiences. In my own career, I’ve moved roles both within companies and outside, including shifting countries and responsibilities for different experiences, especially as learning something new greatly appeals to me – I find it a fantastic way to ride the learning curve.
Read more on my career experiences (as an example of rotation) in this next article, which concludes with suggestions on how to create your own growth opportunities by rotating during your career. It follows on from the first rotation-themed article which concentrated on the corporate and managerial perspectives.
As professionals, it’s important that we don’t see obtaining our professional qualifications as the end of our development journey, especially as we are still likely to have many decades of work ahead of us after obtaining the letters after our names. Because of this, our professions strongly emphasise that we continue developing beyond qualification, with increasing encouragement for learning over our lifetimes (‘lifelong learning’). A critical component of effective learning is identifying the goals of your desired development, which offer a reference point to compare your introspection, action and progress against.
As we race towards the end of the year, the time for performance appraisals is rapidly approaching again. They offer us the opportunity to reflect on our performance and development, as well as consider what we’d like to do differently in future. In this vein, this article explores the value of professional reflection, drawing from approaches followed across a number of professions. It considers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and possible activities, and the shift from rules to principles and the increased flexibility for and responsibility on professionals to manage their professional development. Read more to explore different models of ‘reflective practice’, possible drawbacks, and practical frameworks to use for reflecting in a CPD context.
Our follow-on article on the topic of professional reflection ("Getting Value from Reflective Practice Discussions") then delves into feedback and discussion with others about our development, including examples of possible questions in a reflective practice discussion (or diffraction discussion, as at least one professional body calls it).
In this article, we return to the topic of specialising versus generalising as a career strategy, and expand on Protagion’s previous writing to share the views of Scott Adams, Tim Ferriss, and Erik Torenberg with our readers.
Scott Adams is most famous as the creator of Dilbert*, the renowned cartoon starring an engineer in a business setting. Scott’s own career includes majoring in economics, picking up an MBA, and working at a bank and a phone company before becoming a cartoonist. He’s naturally a fan of MBAs, advising: “...Get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.”
Tim Ferriss is also likely to need little introduction. He’s a multiple-bestselling author and popular podcast host of The Tim Ferriss Show. His books include: The 4-Hour Workweek*, The 4-Hour Body*, The 4-Hour Chef*, Tools of Titans* and Tribe of Mentors*. He’s been referred as a polymath and believes “it is possible to become world-class in almost any skill within one year”.
Erik Torenberg is a venture capitalist and co-founder of Village Global and On Deck, “where top tech talent goes to explore what’s next”.
Read more to dive into the worlds of specialists, generalists and specialised generalists, including Scott, Tim and Erik’s thoughts on the advantages and dangers, and tips for combining skills. We briefly revisit our previous article (In Pursuit of Knowledge: Specialising vs Generalising as a Career Strategy) and conclude with a 6-minute video of Tim.