Link: Gautam Ghosh on Management: The scourge of specialization? is commenting on Dave Pollard's post on 12 ways to think differently.
We live in an age of specialization, where we are encouraged to narrow our interests and our activities, to focus and limit ourselves to doing things at which we are very competent.
And that reminded me of this great quote:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. - Robert Heinlein
Specialization at work is a good thing, we are living in a world that was created by the division of labor. People specialize doing what they do best, so others can specialize at what they do best and we trade currency to make it all come together and generally we are happy.
I once knew a guy who had done very well for himself, he had specialized in nuts and bolts, he had memorized the specifications for thousands of nuts and bolts, people would call him to find out what they needed for their particular application and he charged quite a bit to give out that information but still less then doing all the comparisons themselves. it was a good thing he retired before the Web, because not anyone can do the same thing from home in less then an hour via the Internet.
But change is ongoing. Like buggy whip manufacturers at the beginning of the Automobile Age, sure the business was going to last a few years but before too long it was gone.
Not all that long ago you could expect to work for one company all your life, now having 2-3 separate careers is not unusual.
Outsourcing is another big pressure on workers today. Mobile work, or work that can be done anywhere, is going to places with the least cost of overhead. It is also forcing many people to become Free Agents.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a move out of the comfort zone, and new skills will have to be learned.
But The most important thing to realize is to specialize in work is not to specialize in life. You need to mingle with other ideas and people. New ideas don't come into an industry from inside the industry but from outside it. Other industries face similar problems and find solutions, apply them to your own.