The Neo-Generalist: Where you go is who you are
Kenneth Mikkelsen & Richard Martin
LID Publishing Limited, 2019
Workplaces constantly complain of silos...an inevitable consequence of our promotion of hyperspecialism.
The myopia of expertise prevents us from seeing clearly what is in front of us and connecting it in meaningful ways with other information.
The neo-generalist is both a generalist and a specialist, switching between the two as required. They generalize in order to specialize and bring unique perspectives, blended knowledge and experience from diverse disciplines to the specialisms they perform. They are lifelong learners and are inherently curious. They demonstrate the ability to switch specialisms. They are both fluid and flexible, and when the context shifts, so do they. They are able to cross boundaries. If a specialist lives within a node and a generalist lives within the space on a bridge between nodes, the neo-generalist constantly flows between bridge and node. Neo-generalists are adaptive and responsive.
The neo-generalist is often an "outsider," but also a conduit to external ideas, transcending boundaries, opening up the possibility of cross-pollination. They know how to navigate different networks.
When neo-generalists don't have the answers, they know who to turn to when they need them.
Neo-generalists are knowledge brokers. They help build bridges between people and ideas as they are exposed to many different specialties.
Searchlight intelligence: The ability to discern connections across spheres bringing people and ideas together, where others see no possible connection.
We are always in an ambiguous state, fluctuating back and forth between knowledge and not knowing. The challenge, therefore, is to learn how to listen, see, filter and sense, in order to gain understanding.
The neo-generalist is receptive to new ways of thinking, combining them with established philosophies, tweaking and remixing. They bridge to people ideas from outside realms. They step out of frame and see the whole picture, constantly reframing and searching for other views.
The view from the edge is very different from that at the centre.
If you live in more than one world, you tend to see in more than one way.
The neo-generalist possess peripheral vision, they are constantly scanning.
Aligning yourself fully with one field, one group, denies you the importance of the other domains in which you practice.
Holism instead of division. Neo-generalists unite polarized positions, bridging between them through subtle variations and hybridizations.
The neo-generalist floats across the continuum, in and out of different specialties. They are comfortable with the unknown, with ambiguity.
They are always becoming.
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