5. Range

This last book is connecting the other ones. Innovation appears from changing markets. It’s a non-finite game relying on open-mindedness and a capacity to scout from new values… “How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” touches on a core skill I developed pretty soon in my consulting adventures: being able to connect information, best practices, and know-hows cross-markets.

The main notion entertained by the author is “we need more people able to connect ideas across different playfields”; who can have a systemic vision of problems, if you will. This calls for some of us to renounce specializing in vertical domains but instead dabble in as many as possible.

For reference, our usual sales pitch : )

Like chess masters and firefighters, premodern villagers relied on things being the same tomorrow as they were yesterday. They were extremely well prepared for what they had experienced before, and extremely poorly equipped for everything else. Their very thinking was highly specialized in a manner that the modern world has been telling us is increasingly obsolete. They were perfectly capable of learning from experience, but failed at learning without experience. And that is what a rapidly changing, wicked world demands—conceptual reasoning skills that can connect new ideas and work across contexts. Faced with any problem they had not directly experienced before, the remote villagers were completely lost. That is not an option for us. The more constrained and repetitive a challenge, the more likely it will be automated, while great rewards will accrue to those who can take conceptual knowledge from one problem or domain and apply it in an entirely new one.”

David EPSTEIN

And as much as you will find it pejorative (or at least difficult to put on a CV), I love the term that David uses: we need more “deliberate amateurs.”

A great, great read for my MBA students who have a chance to dabble in many things and become non-experts at many pivotal things ; )