Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Return of the Generalist

Image result for electricity consumers

Specialisation is stifling innovation.

So says this report from the World Economic Forum, Innovation is dying, and experts are to blame.

As a life long generalist, this is music to my ears, as I've felt stifled because my game plans and avenues to unique value creation on predicated on specialisation.

The solution to our lost innovative capacity might therefore be relatively simple.
Instead of focusing on hiring specialists or experts in a particular field, we should hire generalists of a broad mind, capable of thinking outside the box. Hiring independent innovators outside of institutional structures might be one way of protecting them from the pressures of specialisation.
Funding and grants should also be less tied to how much someone has specialised, and more to how inventive or creative they actually are. Our system should move more towards this kind of merit-based ideal, rather than focusing on expertise and certification.
Beyond this, businesses can consider challenging staff with lateral thinking. The key is to push staff beyond their narrow jobs and into new fields and endeavours that challenge them to think in new ways. Younger workers in particular should play a greater role in contributing to the ideas, products and inventions of a company, rather than being excluded until they have gained the relevant degrees or qualifications.

I second this recommendation!