SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Patrick Hubbard, Elizabeth White, Sven Olav Lund, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Managing the Capability-Experience Gap

The capability-experience gap creates a growth edge for individuals

It is exceedingly difficult for individuals to match their capability to perform a job or function exactly with their experience in that role. For the upwardly mobile, being promoted into a new challenging role means heading into something with the capability but minus the experience. And most of us know people who have occupied roles they are clearly not qualified for, in which case they have the experience but not the capability.

Regardless of whether the gap is on the capability or the experience side, the capability-experience gap creates a growth edge for individuals. Managing that growth edge is one of the keys to successfully navigating your career.

I was actually having this discussion with a colleague today. This is a gentleman who is blessed with all the talent in the world. He is a strategic thinker. He communicates easily, both in business terms and in extremely technical terms. He is a masterful pattern matcher with an uncanny ability to map lessons learned in unrelated areas to things he is working on. And he is extremely coachable, which means his potential is virtually limitless.

Having said that, he has had very little actual experience managing people. The way his career has grown, he has been a very important contributor to some very meaty projects, but he hasn’t had resources to directly manage. He is absolutely capable of managing a team, but he does not have the experience at this point.

Now I have had the good fortune to work with my colleague for years. I have watched him mature as an employee and grow as an individual. It is obvious to me that he will be a senior executive before too much longer. And as I watch his growth process, I can only think, “Please do not make the same mistakes I did.”

You see, my colleague’s capability-experience gap is on the experience side. He has learned a lot just by being exposed to different disciplines, but he has yet to put it together in a management role. And much to his chagrin, no matter the capability, he will not have mastered management until he actually manages.

This is perfectly acceptable by the way. Even the most skilled in their area of expertise (Tiger Woods, Beethoven, or Gallagher) must practice their craft and hone their skills before they reach any real objective level of success. Regardless of their innate talent, until they put their strengths to use, they cannot reach their full potential. So it is in the business world.

The question for my colleague is: how do you you go about gaining the experience to close the gap?

The most obvious answer is very Nike-esque: Just do it. The most simple approach to gaining experience is to just pick something up and try it.

While certainly a workable approach, the brute force method of learning is not really a deliberate growth path. When people get into the Just do it mindset, they tend to be more concerned with surviving than thriving. When you are tossed into the deep end of the pool, you certainly learn how to stay afloat. But if your objective is to become a world-class swimmer, merely keeping your head above water is hardly success.

Success in any discipline is about training, and training is practicing with purpose.

In a sports context, most people understand what training means. But what exactly does it mean in a leadership frame of reference?

First, you need to realize that leadership might be a soft skill but that does not make it any less of a skill than playing the guitar or rock climbing. If I told you that you needed to get better at playing guitar, you would probably take a lesson or watch YouTube videos. And then you would practice. If I told you that mastering guitar would make you a million dollars, you might practice a lot.

Leadership is the same way. But how do you practice?

I have read a lot of leadership books over the years. I don’t read the books because they are terribly interesting to me. Truth be told, I would rather go for a bike ride than read a book. But the books have been a part of my ongoing leadership training. Because I believe that it is important to practice, I take a different approach to reading than people who read for pure pleasure.

The first day after I finish a book, I begin looking for ways to put the content to use. There is a good book by Eliyahu Goldratt called The Goal. In it, Goldratt teaches the Theory of Constraints along with what he calls the Thinking Processes. The Thinking Processes are basically a flowchart-based way of structuring arguments and mapping out dependencies. For the 6 weeks after I finished the book, I intentionally worked these flowcharts into conversations at work.

If you talk to me today, chances are slim that I will grab a marker and break into a flowcharted discussion. In this case, having tried it out, I decided that the actual practice was not a fit for how I wanted to lead. But I couldn’t make that determination until I had actually given it a sincere effort. And, more importantly, having trained myself to use Goldratt’s reasoning tools, I was able to absorb and refine a lot of what he was teaching in his book. The result is that I have a very practical grasp of what he was teaching about constraint-based systems and dependency mapping.

Practicing is not limited to reading books and trying out their concepts. Chances are that there are everyday situations that can serve as practice as well. In my colleague’s case, he has been leading a project team. While the people on the team do not officially report to him, the project gives him the chance to train up his ability to connect with individuals. In essence, it provides a live-fire exercise that he can use to hone his management skills.

In similar situations, most people focus on the task. They don’t make the conscious effort to practice specific leadership techniques. They might feel too shy to practice things like active listening. Perhaps they feel that purpose-based approaches are too soft and fluffy to try out in real life. Maybe they are embarrassed to try something like drawing flowcharts for every conversation. Whatever the reason, when you subordinate your growth to the task, you are missing out on an opportunity to train.

Over time, if you dutifully embrace training (in leadership or Python or whatever discipline you are passionate about), you will ultimately narrow the capability-experience gap so that when you are promoted into a larger role, the gap is manageable. This is the difference between hitting every wall between you and your end goal and saving yourself a little pain. I learned my leadership skills by committing virtually every sin in the proverbial book, but if my colleague trains, he has a chance to sidestep a lot of the more difficult ones, which will allow him to succeed much faster and with much less pain than I ever did.

[Today’s fun fact: One in every four Americans has appeared on television. I have actually been on television several times, including when my friend won a huge prize on the Price is Right.]

The post Managing the capability-experience gap appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@CloudExpo Stories
The session is centered around the tracing of systems on cloud using technologies like ebpf. The goal is to talk about what this technology is all about and what purpose it serves. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Shashank Jain, Development Architect at SAP, will touch upon concepts of observability in the cloud and also some of the challenges we have. Generally most cloud-based monitoring tools capture details at a very granular level. To troubleshoot problems this might not be good enough.
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, will describe how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launchi...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.