specialist-generalistGeneralist or Specialist – which way to go?

When we’re at school we’re expected to be generalists. Every subject must be mastered and teachers put a lot of pressure on children and their parents in an attempt to make this somehow happen. Then we leave school and suddenly we become specialists in some particular field that is sometimes planned  but often by happenstance. Does this make sense in someone’s mind?

With the cost of an undergraduate degree in the US being more than the resulting salary can afford, does it make sense to do what everyone else is doing? Do organizations want someone who is a good multitasker or someone who has exceptional skills in one field?

For many decades labor has been decreasing while technology is increasing worldwide.  Scholars at the University of Chicago state that a least half of the global decline in labor needs is because of the dramatic drop in the cost of computing and information technology.

While there have been many arguments in both directions perhaps the real answer is ‘depends on the situation’. According to Lev Kaye’s article, if you’re a Generalist you can find it more difficult to be hired. With more and more Generalists coming out of the Universities and many more jobs requiring Specialist skills these candidates don’t have what companies want. Outsourcing for a Specialist to be retained to build/design/create for an organization and then leave when the task is completed is more and more prevalent.

On the other hand Specialists are being replaced by robots and computers. The London taxi driver test requires the mastery of 320 basic routes, 25,000 streets within those routes and 20,000 landmarks within a six mile radius of Charing Cross and takes 2 to 3 years to memorize. While a GPS can replace some of that, it doesn’t always make the best choice. Nevertheless, with the advent of software controlled cars with self parking, rear sensors and “driverless” cars, software that checks documents, auto ‘check out’ at the supermarket and so on, more and more jobs are being replaced with automation. Within the auto industry and many manufacturing industries the labor markets are polarizing into low and high skill jobs with not much in the middle.

Economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyze occupations in a way that looks at the tasks they involve i.e. manual or cognitive, routine or complex. The task content determines the level of skill required for an occupation. They say that routine tasks, both cognitive and manual are relatively easy to automate often with a machine that is faster, cheaper and more accurate..

Lev also suggests that maybe a bit of both is more likely such as Generalizing-Specialists and Specializing-Generalists. It seems reasonable the if a Specialist was able to spread themselves across other more General tasks that would be more valuable to an organization in the same way that a Generalist who can Specialize in a task would be also.

But what if you don’t find learning easy and took a long time to master your current occupation? Having a brain that can learn easily is critical in order to be adaptable to changing situations, jobs and learning new tasks. The ability to perform multiple tasks requires efficient access to the whole brain. Logic for analysis, step by step processing, visualizing material for later recall, and keeping attention over time so as to complete tasks and not be constantly daydreaming are requirements for success in today’s face paced, high tech and competitive world.

While the Gestalt method is needed for creativity, alternative ideas, storing memorized images in the brain, and interpreting symbols needed in reading rapidly.  However, logic for analysis, step by step processing, visualizing material for later recall, and keeping attention over time so as to complete tasks and not be constantly daydreaming are requirements for success in today’s face paced, high tech and competitive world.  Being proficient in both modalities results in options opening up to being able to adapt and learn to evolve one’s skills in this ever changing world and not be left behind. A degree in anything is just the starting point.

There is hope for those people challenged with learning and functioning in today’s competitive work environment. The Crossinology® Brain Integration Technique—a natural, drug-free alternative proven to resolve learning difficulties.  This innovative technique delivers permanent improvement in reading comprehension, memory and concentration, learning and retention of spelling skills, understanding mathematical concepts.  Click here to locate a practitioner or contact Susan McCrossin for additional information.

About Susan McCrossin, A.P.:

about-susan-mccrossinSusan McCrossin, A.P. holds a diploma in Applied Physiology from the International Institute in Arizona. The founder of the Crossinology® Brain Integration Technique, she has researched and written many articles on brain integration, learning disabilities and the subject of learning. She’s been a featured learning disabilities expert on Gary Null’s “Natural Living,” Bloomberg Business Radio, the Dr. Pat Show, and more. She is the author of Breaking the Learning Barrier: Eradicating ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia. To learn more about her work, visit www.crossinology.com