Care and Feeding of Project Managers
March 3, 1998

Regarding Rob Thomsett's interesting comments on "mind-set" as a balance to a person's "skill-set" (see "The Care and Feeding of Project Managers," *American Programmer*, February 1998):

Here in Australia, the majority of consultants and agencies focus entirely on specific skills, often to the detriment of the positions they attempt to fill. Some are playing with "personality tests" (such as Briggs-Myer) to try to ensure that the people they propose will mesh well with the environment at the client (of course, this is assuming that no one tries to subvert the tests).

It may be a few more years here before they start to look at the whole picture, combining skills, experience, outlook on life (mind-set), and emotional intelligence. It has always been my attitude that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. I cannot afford to be a "specialist" or just another cog in my consulting. All too often I see people, especially in large companies, only thinking and dealing with their own tiny part of the whole.
Naturally this helps create islands of non-communication, misunderstandings, and rival "empire building" and can send a project off the rails faster than bad tools.

More "generalists" and "communicators" are required to help bring systems development into the future, especially now that distributed systems are coming into vogue. In the past, a system worked on one machine and a specialist could see the whole picture. Now, with many more levels of applications and components appearing, a specialist has a rather blinkered view of a project
and can no longer contribute (in fact, many are negative assets as they refuse to go with a solution that they cannot comprehend).