Several nuggets of insight and good advice for Creative Generalists in this article – The Never-Ending Debate of Specialist v. Generalist – about computer technology, catch-all Craigslist job postings, and that “the more you know, the more you find out you don’t know.”… more
Pras Sarkar (of Yahoo! Research) delivers a must-read post full of superb advice for those seeking that sublime if elusive balance of employment and generalism. The title alone is worth the price of admission: Become a specialist at being a generalist.
Five key tips according to Pras:
–Stay up-to-date with your area of generalization
–Know what to explore and what to ignore
–Be critical of new technologies
–Visualize the results of all new pursuits and endeavors
–Don’t over-generalize… more
Mark McGuinness, a London-based business coach and the caretaker of one of my favourite creativity blogs, Wishful Thinking, has just posted a delightfully well-rounded synopsis of the generalism-specialism debate (if one can indeed call it a debate – I most definitely see the value of both sides and have always advocated a more complementary connection between the two). His post is partially in response to my recent post, What Specifically Do Generalists Do?, which he pits/balances against a post last summer in which ad copywriter Scamp opines that creative generalism is “godless, anti-capitalist, and contrary to all good sense” (alas, my feeds seem to have failed me and I’m embarrassed to say that I missed Scamp’s fun rant at the time – I’ll belatedly respond to it soon).… more
There’s a brilliant rant by William Tozier over at Notional Slurry about the merits (and innateness) of generalism. He argues that there are two ways to get things done: to specialize or to generalize – one and many. One of the things that frustrates him is that so many of the natural and even noble traits of generalists are regarded by society, culture, and commerce as inefficient, unfocused, unforeseen “delay”. As he so eloquently puts it:
You suck as a specialist; you’re not evolved to be one. Your meat wants you to pay attention to what’s around you, what’s inside you, the top part and the bottom part and the inside part.… more
Leaders as Generalists
We need generalist leaders. This is especially true in the context of company management.
Leaders are, ideally, generalists that can understand and handle many different parts of a company. Innovation is dependent on an organization’s ability to regularly access and sift through large volumes of available information, determine which is most important and pertinent and then to apply it to unique situations in new ways. This role – essentially one of direction and delegation – is the province of leaders.
The irony of this of course is that companies naturally specialize and the people working at modern day companies are trained to be specialists, managers.… more