A few months ago, I read one of those truly thought-provoking blogs that don’t come around very often: “The full-stack employee” by Chris Messina. (Don’t confuse a full-stack employee [FSE] with a full-stack developer. They are completely different animals.)
Messina observed, “The conventional seams between disciplines are fraying, and the set of skills necessary to succeed are broader and more nebulous than they’ve been before. These days, you’ve gotta be a real polymath to get ahead; you’ve got to be a full-stack employee.”
Being an FSE myself, I have been thinking about Messina’s blog on and off for the last four months and what the rise of FSEs means for the world of process. So much so, I couldn’t get it all into one blog. Full-Stack Processes Parts 2 & 3 will be published shortly.
Let’s start with a quick description of an FSE (I highly suggest still reading the original):
FSEs have a combination of skills that as a whole is far more valuable than the sum of its parts.
- They can communicate with engineers or UX designers just as easily as they can with business stakeholders or analysts.
- They are self-sufficient, self-driven, and want to make a difference.
- They are innately curious and are always looking for new ideas, best practices, and ways to be more productive.
- Above all else have a voracious need to know “how things work.”
These traits come together in a bit of a perfect storm that make FSEs strive always to have the bigger picture, excellent interdisciplinary (and cross-silo) collaborators, and adept at finding new ways to innovate and operate.
Startups and some more progressive organizations have already embraced the value of the FSE. Being an FSE is still an underappreciated position within the enterprise, but I think those days are numbered, and the FSE will become essential to enterprises as they start the transformation into becoming a digital enterprise. These are the employees that are going to spur the innovation and changes necessary for process and will be essential to projects that cross several interdisciplinary boundaries and embrace new technologies.
Upon reflection, I think that FSEs have often been the missing element in many failed or struggling process initiatives I have seen.
How many times have you sat in a process solution meeting with a mixed IT and Business audience and wished there was a translator? What was missing from that meeting? An FSE. (Or are you an FSE and naturally become the de facto translator in this situation??)
How many times have your requirements been incomplete or come only from a single SME’s or silo’s perspective? What was missing during requirements gathering and analysis? An FSE. (Or are you an FSE and naturally strive to have the bigger picture a.k.a. the end-to-end process??)
On top of being a common missing element from process solution projects, I foresee FSEs affecting business processes from two more vectors. Firstly, FSEs will become the primary process creators in the digital enterprise. Secondly, as a process consumer, FSEs will demand far more process flexibility and many organizations will struggle with this evolution. Stay tuned, I will be covering both of these points in Full-Stack Processes Part 2 and Part 3.