If we were standing on a tennis court, rackets in hand, the meaning of the question would be obvious. But in life, we are not standing on a tennis court. So what does this question mean?
Hmm … it is a question that would have different meanings in different times and contexts. Being good in the 17th century might immediately trigger religious thoughts. Are you good in the eyes of the Lord? In the 20th century, it might refer to a personal skill level (more like the tennis idea). And in the 21st century?
Consider one of the more controversial collaboration issues of the day. Which collaboration system works better – an “open” system or a “closed” system? We come from a closed system era. Business secrets were and still are jealously protected. But some argue that open systems innovate more quickly.
So if you are a network architect, which do you build? Consider this thought
you can “innovate” and win without an open ecosystem, if you are good enough at design. If you are really good, you can even beat the “open” crowd most of the time. You just have to understand the fundamental principles of great design. Fight for simplicity and elegance. Value both form and function and understand their essential synthesis. Build a team that “gets it” for all the above and delivers it every day with every product and service. Apply these principles to everything you do, not just the products you make. Drive endlessly for perfection, even though you probably won’t ever get there. Learn from your mistakes, but never apologize for trying. Rinse and repeat.
Notice that the above is talking about design within a closed system. Teams in a closed system can perform at high levels of efficiency. Apple under Jobs has proved that. But notice as well that we have not yet given much thought about open system design. That is something new. We might revisit the above idea in 50 years.