Tag Archives: generalists

Generalists Are Hardwired for Reinvention

unlearning

My last post on the challenges Generalists face in a society that rewards specialists got a lot of attention from people who are Generalists themselves (from healthcare); not from Specialists.

One of them is Dr. Jonathan Griffiths who spoke at a TEDx about how healthcare needs to embrace Generalists:

4 Challenges Organizations Face To Get The Most From Generalists

generalists

New challenges require new approaches. All organizations have new challenges on the table all the time, but most are not equipped to come up with new approaches to conquer them because they can’t think and act differently.

This is a specialization challenge.

As a rule of thumb, your business needs more generalists than specialists if it wants to innovate. Don’t get me wrong, specialists are valuable. But Generalists are the innovators, the ones who are most capable of dealing with complexity; the ones that connect that dots.

Yesterday I joined Innochat to chat about T-Shaped people and culture for collaborative innovation (see transcript). I’ve written quite a lot about Generalists (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here), so I won’t touch on here the well known factors about being a Generalist, hiring and managing.

Instead, I’ll touch on the challenges…

We don’t need a society of more entrepreneurs; we need a society of hungry minds

As we continue discussing The Future for Youth, we’ve come up with some interesting ideas about what that looks like. One of the key ideas that has come up again and again is that parents should raise entrepreneurial children with the aim that everyone is and should be an entrepreneur.

Should we teach young people to be entrepreneurs?

How to cultivate the Generalist within

The Creative GeneralistAs a rule of thumb, your business needs more generalists than specialists if it wants to innovate. Don’t get me wrong, specialists are valuable. But Generalists are the innovators, the ones who are most capable of dealing with complexity; the ones that connect that dots. For that very reason, as a generalist, I know it’s hard to get us to pay attention to anything uninteresting; much less get inspired. We need to be challenged; constantly. We also need to be unleashed; not managed.

But for an organization that is willing to change, as your own, you can turn yourself into a generalist, create the conditions for great ideas to emerge and spark the innovation mindset in your business.

How?

Simple: broaden yourself.

Here are a few ways how I do it:

Homogeneity in an organization breeds failure

for innovation hire generalistsExcellence is contagious. A business is only as strong as its people, which is why it’s so crucial to hire the right ones.

A recent experience triggered this post, one that comes up all the time in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation: how to maintain a culture of excellence.

In my experience, it all starts with vision and values, and that determines the type of people you will bring in to help you reach that vision. Very straightforward, but most of the time the “people” part is kicked to the curve in favor of “people who can come in and fill a void” to get things done as efficiently as possible; whether or not they fit the culture (if there is one).