This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Monday, April 21, 2003
I guess I'm a specialist in generalism -- Keying off a classic 1989 essay by Paul Saffo, which points out that "...we still prize the ability to recall specific information over the skill of making connections among seemingly unrelated information.", Azeem Azahr looks at the impact on those with that lesser prized skill...
"Being a generalists can be tough: generalism is something that isn't often valued by firms because of three pressures.
- Firm's processes are so specialised that they need to slot in someone, in Adam Smith's terms, to hammer the head of the pin. (Ironically, these processes are often designed by generalists).
- There are more specialists around because of the system that was created by increasing urban density, mass education and rigid command-and-control systems in organisations. This is a perfect substrate for growing specialists, not generalists.
- Generalists who can, in the words of Jed Bartlett, "see the whole board" can be threatening to specialist managers worried about limited fixed objectives."
Ahhh...so that's my problem. As a friend of mine often points out, it's not the links, but the linkages that make the system. You can't focus on both, so while the specialists focus on the links, we generalists can stand back and see, in the bigger, "holistic" picture, how they work together.
...or how/why they don't work together well.
posted by Frank - Permanent Link -