Skill tree of Expertise
3 min read

Skill tree of Expertise

If Expertise is one of the first abilities that makes up a developer archetype, what skills does it govern?

I listed Specialization and Implementation as potential skills that roll up to Expertise. I think another one is probably Strategy.

Specialization – How skilled you are at specific solution problem domains

Implementation – How skilled you are at building solutions (execution)

Strategy – How skilled you are at understanding and advising on the problems and options available

There are so many technologies, languages, and frameworks that it doesn't make sense to make them all into RPG-like skills. They are more like implements, taken up in arms in response to a problem.

Two-Handed Greatsword of React. Scimitar of Angular. Knuckles of K8s. You get the drift...

Alright – so what else? It feels like there's some more depth to skills, like... a skill tree?

The Expertise skill tree... perhaps?

Dividing skills into Major and Minor maybe?

Under Specialization, you might have different minor skills like Platform, Horizontal, and Vertical specialization.

Under Implementation, you might have minor skills like Frontend, Backend, Data, and Ops.

Under Strategy, you have strategic skills like Advisory and Insight.

How well does this check out?

I'm thinking that you have to take your whole experience, per project, and mark which Minor skills the project developed. From there, you'd get your Major skill levels.

I would guess this for myself (using low-mid-high as the scale):

  • Specialization: Mid. TypeScript, React, .NET – these are platform specializations I have. E-commerce/retail is a vertical I can say I specialize in. Website performance/optimization is a horizontal I tend to lean towards. But to be High, I think it just requires more experience that's deeper in those minors.
  • Implementation: High. There are a lot of projects where I built full-stack solutions soup-to-nuts in my specialty frameworks/languages as well as understand hosting on-premise and in the cloud.
  • Strategy: Mid. I have the insight to understand solution architecture and I can advise others. Again, High would require more projects that I operated at a strategic level on.

Given this, if I wanted to test out The Consultant archetype, I could try advising e-commerce-based businesses on their website performance. Wait, that's product-level value, so let's move up the value chain and say helping e-commerce businesses increase sales (through website performance optimization).

Or, if I wanted to test out The Indie Hacker archetype, I know I could build a SaaS in .NET or TypeScript and that I might have an easier time serving the Retail/E-commerce vertical of customers since I'm a bit more familiar with their pain points. Perhaps a "Cart Performance Monitoring" solution or something.

You can see how just by examining "technical expertise" at a deeper level, you can then adjust the angle of an archetype to fit.

For understanding a full archetype though, I think we'll need to continue exploring the other abilities (since being a consultant requires more than just technical expertise).


Knowing where to aim can make all the difference
A bounty has been posted...
My Red Razor Blade of Blazor is sharp indeed but it won't stay that way if I'm hacking at the wrong problems.

Try breaking down your technical skills and expertise into these major and minor skills. Maybe place tally marks in each minor box based on past projects where you used a minor skill and sum them up into the major box.

Where are you landing currently?

Now: where do you want to end up? What needs to change to get there?

Enjoying these posts? Subscribe for more