One’s skills are judged by the appreciation and application of concepts, understanding of how to use the latest tools and technologies and appreciation of human behavior.
Here is a visual designer. He understands the various graphic designing tools like After Effects, Photosphop, Dreamweaver etc. But his ability to understand and create stuff for the targeted audience is very poor. So also with many programmers who are good in a particular language, but the fundamental concepts of logic, algorithm, writing a good program is lacking.
If we take visual designing, a good designer is one whose fundamental skills or aptitude in creativity, visualization, converting ideas to designs and good. This cannot be taught. It can be nurtured. One may have the aptitude to sing and with training and practice can become a good singer. On the other hand it cannot be taught to one who does not have the aptitude.
Particularly in India, we unfortunately do not understand and appreciate ones aptitude and force individuals to take a course for which they are not fit. So we have thousands of engineers who do not have the basic aptitude for engineering.
Tools and technologies to keep evolving. One needs to of course now of the latest tools that are available so that their deliverables are better. And this process of acquiring knowledge of new tools and technologies cannot stop. It goes on. However, knowledge of tools and technologies cannot replace the depth and good understanding of concepts and fundamentals. I have seen many times mangers when filling job descriptions placing emphasis on the tools and not the concepts. And then they make the wrong choice. Concepts are almost never changing (take the simple thing of multiplication, division, etc.) while tools change.
The other dimension which is very critical in today’s world as we become more and more customer-centric or customer-sensitive is to nurture appreciation of human behavior. A good visual designer will think of ideas, tastes and behavior of the target audience. If the target audience is children the visual representation has to be different, unlike when the target audience is elderly people.
A web designer has to constantly think of how humans will behave on the layouts they present. And this appreciation of human behavior is not restricted to the creative fields. It is true for any other field. A techie when writing algorithms needs to apply “how will they behave” thoughts. Whether it is a mobile app or a drug or new drink the ones involved in creating and offering them to the customers need to understand human behavior.
These – concepts & fundamentals, tools & technologies and human behavior are aspects which everyone has to consciously be aware of and nurture. So also is the responsibility of managers to nurture these in their team members.