Building Teams One at a Time

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2001-12-17 Print this article Print

I'm finding that demand growth is strong, but there's so much overcapacity prices still fall.

From the next room, I hear a conversation: "I know hes busy now, but he needs that training if were going to do that project in the next cycle." It sounds like any meeting of IT managers discussing one of their key people, but its two of my sons playing Xicat Interactives PC game "Cultures."

Im impressed to see them learning that you need to develop individuals on your way to deploying a world-beating team. Im already seeing spinoff effects as they plan their fictional characters progress: Theyre showing a lot more interest in learning basic programming, for example, instead of being discouraged that they cant immediately start writing interactive 3-D graphical games.

Theyre crafting their own technology ladder, with successive enabling stages of science and manufacturing, for the game of epic strategy that they someday want to produce themselves. I could tell you more, but then Id have to kill you—suffice it to say that a 6-by-3-foot table is no longer big enough to hold their unrolled chart.

Do you have an equally concrete road map? You probably face the same dual challenge of anticipating technology and building the team that can make it pay. Theres certainly no shortage of technology—quite the reverse: When people complain about "soft markets" in areas such as storage, Im finding that demand growth is strong, but theres so much overcapacity that prices still fall.

Is there a shortage of critical skills? That argument rings hollow in the wake of nearly 100,000 tech-sector layoffs this year (according to E-Commerce Times). But many of the people who lost their jobs may have lacked a technical foundation for their own self-training, a foundation that Congress hopes to strengthen with the proposed Technology Talent Act of 2001: still in committee as of this writing but receiving bipartisan support.

With overseas tech markets gaining ground on the United States, we cant count on H1-B visas to meet our needs. What have you taught a child this week?

What skills cant you find? Tell me at

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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