Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The conundrum of shallow skills and silo professions

One of the tricky spots of my current situation is feeling a conflict between needing to deepen my skills, but not seeing the value in committing to digging myself into a silo.


I am not unskilled.  In fact, I have an impressive array of randomly aquired skills, experience and knowledge.  But my skill set is shallow, and not necessarily complimentary.  This is not a vice, at my young age.  But it is not an asset, and I am feeling that - I don't know how I can really be of value to others with the shallow skill set I have.  Who on earth really needs an analyst!?

But I think about the options to deepen my skill set and I struggle to see how that will help me solve the sorts of wicked problems that aren't already being churned through the production line of specialised professionals.  If I wanted to deepen my skills I would probably stay on at the audit office another year or so to gain a bit more experience, seniority and methodology.  But that would only exacerbate the smell of wasted, rotting innovative solutions that are flushed out of the woods by preliminary audit investigation, to be then methodically swept under the rug of the infamous audit methodology.

My aim - or at least what I propose - is not to focus on deepening my skills, but on the contrary to broaden them.  To be valuable I will deepen my expertise and my understanding of systems of government, without pinning myself to a profession.  I will pivot the experience I have gained so far, find other angles, and develop ways in to government's problems that others are yet to exploit.

I know my stated interest in 'public administration systems' is too broad for all this.  I'm working on how to narrow that down.  But regardless, it's a worthy beast to fall in love with - who needs a solution, when you have a problem like that?

From screenrant interview

John Baxter


  1. Remember the gold prospectors. Dig a good vertical mine, then from that branch out into lateral tunnels - not too many of them at a time or your labours are dispersed. Each lateral shaft will develop its own branches, but they will continue to be fed by your main shaft and the laterals. As you go on exploring and digging all shafts will produce nuggets.

    Eventually the main shaft (and perhaps in due course a second main shaft and its laterals) will coalesce. The result will be a learned, balanced and wise human life, which produces numerous small but incredibly valuable nuggets of gold – especially because the mines are not for you alone, but multitudes of people will pass through them while you are digging – some being close by your side. The gold dust will sprinkle over them. That is a miner’s vocation.

  2. :) A comment put so well! And food for thought also - thank you.