Thursday, August 09, 2007

Generalists are the new black

When I started out in agency land I never understood why they needed a million specialists to do different things. Most of the time they just argued and didnt really put anything strong together. My niave view was that Im ok at a lot of things. But not brillant at any. So how am I going to fit in. I was a generalist at school and I wanted a generalist job
I realised I was going struggle in an industry that was becoming more specialised. But I stuck to my guns no matter how much people tried to put me into specialist areas I just wouldnt budge. Moving into media you start to get quite a good overall view of business if your curious enough and ask the right questions, but it is still very limiting. So I returned to a communications agency taking a media role which enabled me to broaden my thinking and start to really get an overall view. I stayed in planning refusing any of the specialist offers that came across my desk and now with comms planning becoming everywhere, my general way of working seems to be coming into the fore. The generalisation has also expanded outside the industry with helping friends start businesses which is made me see a different angle all together. (just need to come up with my own idea now)
I started thinking this when I saw a comment over at iain's blog stating ...
'...... that we’re all seeking flexible multi-skilled people who are going to be useful regardless of how things change.'
It made me feel like all those years of being stubborn were worthwhile. This also links to my love of change and constaintly being adaptable to what the market and society throws at you.
But the greatest part I have learnt living in a diverse city like london (which I have written about) is that my thinking has broaden out further through the help of so many different people from different walks of life. London has played its part in this but blogging has done this even more so. Gaining from a huge amount of people from different backgrounds / countries / jobs etc. My generalist nature is really thriving. Its also making me understand why all those specialists were there. Iain's term 'collaborate more and hire less' really does crystalise it for me. We cant do everything, so get some people who are brillant at it to help. Now Im looking to tapp into skill sets from an even broader group of industries and areas... otherwise I might get bored with this one

1 comment:

erin said...

great post! (love the title) I was just having this conversation with someone here in NY. I think planners are great generalists. My bone to pick with the industry is segmenting the discipline of planning into engagement, connections, digital, etc. because the titles signify expertise in ONE/specialized area. NO me gusta. I think a great planner should be able to make connections across all channels
Here's to generalism and having many talents. :)