Let’s stop calling them ‘soft skills’

I’m not a big reader of Seth Godin, despite how popular he is. But this post was great. Fair warning: it is a sales pitch at the end. I love this quote: Culture defeats strategy, every time.Mr. Godin makes some great observations that the most important skills in the workplace are the ones that never get any attention. Not in our education, not in hiring practices, and not when recognizing good work. Why? We underinvest in this training, fearful that these things are innate and can’t be taught.He’s making the case that most “soft skills”…

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Tenure means trust

Allison Wagner touches on an aspect of our industry that is problematic. She gives it a clever title: the two year itch: Some people seek professional growth where the grass appears greener and the chairs more ergonomic.Just a generation ago, many of our parents worked for the same organization for their entire working life. My dad worked for himself for many years, but he eventually sold his business and started working for another company. And he's still there. How many people under 40 do you know of that have this kind of history? Allison counters this reality with the…

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Tales of a non-unicorn

Laura Shenck shares a personal anecdote about the issues she faced regarding job titles. Her story includes applying for a role that was titled one way, then being tested in a manner befitting a role of another type. Why do we seem to struggle so much with titles in our industry? I suspect it's due partly to the rapid pace at which the Internet has evolved, the underlying technologies, tools, and frameworks shifting constantly so that those who build things for the web are ever learning. While that change occurs, it's difficult to even find consistency and agreement as to…

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The full-stack employee

Elea Chang makes the case for focusing less on any new titles for workers, especially tech workers. Her thoughts are a response to Chris Messina’s glorification of the employee who gets it all, from ideation, to strategy, to the technology that enables it all to happen. I love Elea’s point here: Unfortunately, the continuous pursuit of professional skillsets tends to diminish the boundaries between work and everything else, leaving you with less and less time to actually grow as a human being.Generalize or specialize, the most talented people I’ve worked with have had one consistent trait:…

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Caring for craft

If a lovely photograph is taken in the forest, but no one is there to appreciate it, is it still lovely? I would argue yes. Good work, work that is the result of careful, painstaking time and attention, is good whether or not it's enjoyed by others. But it seems that the activity we partake of online has trained us to seek after the Fave/Star/Like more than is necessary. Shawn Blanc wrote about his photography workflows and how the different community aspects of Flickr and Instagram is what gives him more enjoyment with the latter over the former.…

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A new kind of craftsmen, same as the old one

The term craftsmanship brings to mind skills of yesteryear. Woodworking, textiles, cobbling, and smithery all come with the connotation of years of honing one’s ability, of apprenticeship. And, in our modern world where most of us don’t know how items for purchase come into existence, I often mourn the loss of the careful consideration men would give to their craft in these professions. But my sense of loss also comes with hope. The reason is twofold: we're seeing a resurgence in young people picking up some of the old crafts, and at the same time, craftsmanship is being…

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