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The Value of Creative Generalists?

Swiss Army Knife

This is a question that is incredibly important to me for a number of reasons, and that I address directly whenever possible. Priority among the reasons this is important would be two, the first being that I have found great success by taking the creative generalist path, the second that I have found great success by the combination of creative generalists with specialists. One does not obviate the other, they are instead profoundly complimentary. I just read a very well written at that is a comprehensive survey of both the value of being a creative generalist, and the value of having them as members of your team. The author of the article broadly defines five areas in which creative generalists excel and create value, which I include below with excerpts that I found to be especially worthy of highlighting:

Wander + Wonder - Finding possibility

“Ideas follow inspiration, which comes freely at a friendly intersection of diverse multidisciplinary, multi-industry, multicultural thinking – exactly the kind of thinking that our focused lives tend not to have enough of.”

Synthesize + Summarize - Connect the dots and present complex information succinctly

“Diversity generates economic expansion. We have an environment teeming with differentiations and obscure inspirations by way of hyperinnovation, culture blur, and enhanced communications. Organizations have more points of inspiration, not only as a result of their own activities but also of others’ from every industry all over the world.”

Link + Leap - Generating ideas, take a simple insight and find a transcending application.

“Effective leaders today understand that we’re no longer operating in a linear cause-and-effect world but rather in more of a web-like ecosystem where inter-relationships shape direction, decisions, and delegation.”

Mix + Match - Make worlds collide and harness collaborative energies.

“There are many instances where organizations are not, in their processes, motivated to function horizontally or outside of their traditional bounds, and there are many talented individuals locked in the tunnel vision of their pursuits, blindly unaware that collaboration could be the best move they make.”

“Generalists play the often overlooked yet essential role of identifying specialists’ strengths and directing project activities and timing in such a way that makes the most effective use of them.”

Experience + Empathize - Understand humanity and life’s many interrelationships.

“Ideation feeds on lateral thinking and free association. And the farther one can look the more there is to learn and connect. In this sense, crossing cultural borders – replete with unique languages, customs, traditions, politics, religions, senses (sights, sounds, smells, tastes), technologies, and philosophies – is the most expansive lateral thinking that can be done. Developing a deeper understanding of how other cultures solve problems is a huge leadership asset…”

“Embracing a human-centered observational and empathic approach tunes into multiple perspectives, various worldviews. And this is both inspiring and empowering, not simply because of the exposure and the reality check but because, again, it taps into the intersectional riches of diversity.”

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