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Author's profile photo Mariano Cabalen

Wider or deeper knowledge

Today I woke up thinking about what would be better for a consultant: wider or deeper knowledge?

Yesterday I had an interview for an APO position to roll-out a global template in one subsidiary. My performance in the interview was terrible, I felt so bad that I was not able to pronounce a single word. The company was looking for a 10 years expert person in APO PPDS and as you can imagine this is not what I am. I have 2 years in APO DP, 2 years in APO SNP, 1 year in APO PPDS, 6 or more in SAP PP, 3 in MM, etc..

Anyway, even when the interview was quite bad for me, I really believe that is more powerful for a company to have consultants with a wide knowledge, instead of deeper knowledge. I read that

07-04-2016 10-34-20 a.m..png

people with wider knowledge is also called “T-shaped people.” In our business we can say that T-shaped consultants  have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T, e.i.: they’re SAP PP consulta

nts, but they are so empathetic that they can branch out into o

ther modules.

I also read something interesting, that could explain what happened in my interview:

There’s a seduction to being an expert, an assumption in society that credibility relies on deep (and narrow) expertise. However, for people operating at the edges, intersections, and overlaps where innovation thrives, being a generalist is far more powerful.


Of course I am not going to be a generalist person here: some situations require deeper knowledge. In my case, I was being interviewed to roll out a global template in a subsidiary, when it is more powerful to be good at understanding the impact of what we are implementing in the local business, understanding localization, change management, etc., than be an expert in something that was already defined.

So what do you think it is better?

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      Author's profile photo Debra Miller
      Debra Miller

      Hi, just reminded me of an interview I sat in on yesterday.  I am a Functional Analyst and work in SAP PM mostly – been working on GIS integrations for close to 5 yrs.  We interviewed a guy for the GIS side of the project. He was clearly wide in his knowledge base, and not what you would call a grand stander.  Another person on the interview panel was totally focused on his “recent” experience and whether it was closely aligned with what we were trying to accomplish in our project.  I am not the decision maker but I would have grabbed this guy in a heart beat.  Some people, no let me say that many people buy into bells and whistles; particularly those in management because to some extent that is how they got where they are.  Sad but true and in the end we needed him more than he needed us.

      Author's profile photo Marssel Vilaça
      Marssel Vilaça

      Hello Cabalen! This is a good question.

      In my point of view the SAP professionals must have both skills. Yes, it's a challenger and most commom to find only one profile.

      All the best!