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07 May 2009

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Jay Fienberg

Great post. I was in a discussion recently about specializations around various web design and development tasks, and someone brought-up a point about medical professionals:

Doctors who are "specialists" train for many years as generalists before they train in their speciality. So, for example, a neurosurgeon would like be generally trained in obstetrics or pediatrics--and would have experiences like delivering a baby or diagnosing chicken pox.

What our industrial society has overvalued, and what dominates many companies and fields, might better be called "compartmentalization" over specialization. People are trained to do one thing, or get a lot of experience in only one area--and skills and points-of-view outside of that compartment are significantly foreign to them.

I think this even has affected the medical professions: so much drive to make specialists (or to become specialists) causes people to take general practice much less seriously.

Ultimately though, what you are talking about is not only about being generalists, but about an "un-boxed" point of view. Even generalists have their boxes, e.g., someone may be a great general practitioner of medicine and know nothing about folk medicine, because that is not in the official medicine "box."

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Jim Benson is a collaborative management consultant. He is CEO of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy which combines Lean, Agile Management and Social Media principles to develop sustainable teams.

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