The Day of the Generalist

If you really want to get better at what you do, become a generalist. Sure, having a specialty is great, but being a generalist who can generate, communicate, and execute a range of ideas is even better.

When it comes to creative work, being a renaissance man has its benefits. Having a rich knowledge of culture, art, science, and history all play an important role in the ability to produce creative ideas. Artists use this general knowledge as a foundation that influences their work.

What many people don't understand is that being creative isn't just for artists -- it's for everyone. No matter your role within your company, chances are that opportunities exist for you to break out of the box and propose creative solutions to the problems and opportunities facing your business.

And that's when it gets tough.

Coming up with new ideas is easy. People dream up ways to make their work-places, homes, and communities better every day, but they rarely implement them, because implementing new ideas is hard.

So, what does that mean for you? It means the day of the generalist is upon you. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improving the skill sets you already have. It means that if you're like many people, you've reached a point of diminishing returns, and you'll get better faster by learning something new.

As interactive marketing advances, it's become harder and harder to be a generalist. Skills are required that demand time and energy to learn. Developers, designers, and strategists all use a variety of skill sets that often limit their growth in other areas. But increasingly we find that, even as it becomes harder to generalize, there's increasing value to being able to implement your own ideas rather than asking someone else who knows how to implement it for you.

Regardless of whether you work online, I suspect the same is true for you. So, go learn something new. You'll be glad you did, and your boss will be too.

Written by Chris Allison on December 15, 2009


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Chris Allison