CHAPTER 8
Beyond ABC/M
Whatever you undertake, act with prudence, and consider the consequences.
—Anonymous

PORTABLE SKILLS

In any role, you develop job-specific skills and portable skills. Job-specific skills are “deep” skills that enable you to become an expert in a particular field or topic. Subject matter experts (SMEs) spend years honing job-specific knowledge and skills. Portable skills, on the other hand, are more suitable to most of today’s careers. Portable skills are “wide” skills that will help guarantee lifetime employ-ability, not lifetime employment with a single employer or single role within an employer.
Both job-specific and portable skills have advantages. If you ever need life-saving surgery, you would probably like the surgeon with the best job-specific skills: an expert in the field with more than ten thousand hours of experience. On the other hand, portable skills are more important in an industry like consulting. In this case, attitude and adaptability are more important than aptitude. As a successful consulting senior manager, I have repeatedly delivered strong project results by staffing project teams with a minimum of 30% strong in portable skills—smart, hard-working, results-focused, team players were much more valuable than experts who may be lacking these attributes. In the worst case, the remaining 70% of the team are trained and led by the strong 30%. Depending on the size of the project, between one and three SMEs are required to deliver great ...

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