Two weeks ago I wrote about generalizing vs specializing, or being a general specialist, or the changing nature of specialization in re web design. I’ve had an evolution of my thought about this because of my new job, wherein I am a specialist, but on a generalist sort of team. Which means I’ve also been thinking about teams.
In all the years I’ve been doing web development, this is the first time that I’ve ever been on a team of web developers. I should caveat that by saying that I had an assistant at Pierce, and worked loosely on web-ish projects with other departments at both TwinStar and Pierce. This feels significantly different: I am on a Web Team, my boss is a web developer, and the other full-time team member is a web designer. We each have areas of expertise, mostly related to our job descriptions, but there’s some fairly strong overlaps, and we speak a common language.
I guess we’re still in what the organization development types call the “norming” phase, where we work out who does what when, processes, lingo, what normal behavior looks like. Which is maybe complicated by all following each other on Twitter? I don’t know. Not to get into too much detail — because to some extent I’m trying to hold to the rule I worked out with my boss at Pierce way back when — but I feel pretty good about it. Anxious, of course, because social anxiety is my middle name (or something), but not more than my personal baseline of fretting about interpersonal relationships.
Again, just looking at myself, I find that I’m challenged by having to “share” — to realize that decision-making is different on a team like this, to know what I should do and what I don’t need to take responsibility for, to be explicit in communicating decisions and processes. As C has noticed a few times, I tend to take things in and then want to go off and hide and do something all alone before talking about it at all. (Introvert!) And it very often works well for me, but sometimes it’s counterproductive in this situation.
And The Web Team is not my only team here. I’m also working on a cross-departmental team, building a fairly significant product for the college community, where we actually work together in the same room one morning a week. I always dread it on some level, because that amount of real-time collaboration is exhausting. (So very introvert.) On the other hand, we’re doing something interesting and important, and the other team members are smart, engaged, and very knowledgeable about the college. And that Venn diagram is very different from the one that would describe the Web Team’s skills, so I can work on different things in different ways. So I get done with the cowork time (as I have just now) and feel like I’ve done something interesting and useful.
No conclusions about all of this just yet. Simply: teams!