For some years now I’ve felt sincere frustration at my generalist habits. Even embarrassment. I’ve had a difficult time priding my study habits. For a few years I spent time doing photography with classes in high school and college. During my pre-teens I made a dramatic turn from illustration to music composition. In between music I focused on graphic design and web design. And here I am today: nearly thirty-three years old and I’m neck-deep in the subjects of computer science, electronics, algorithmic art, and interaction design.
For a while I considered my generalist approach to be professionally beneficial. It briefly was. I could help develop a website and design marketing materials. Well, in fact it still is useful. I recently produced music for marketing material at a place where I work as a front-end developer. However I when I look at the industry around me, I see nothing but businesses needing strict specialization for the most part. It’s left me feeling a bit insecure until I read this amazing article on the benefits of being a polymath.
The article really took me back to my earlier perspective. I used to embrace my need to learn as a significant process of understanding complicated relationships. I thrived on it. I felt privileged to be a musician and graphic designer as I had the benefit of relating overlapping concepts. As my career concerns took hold though, I started to question this. server address . How many employers want or need diverse skill sets? How many even recognize it as a sign of ability or innovativeness? I don’t know but I’m willing to defend it now.
Maybe the lack of polymaths is the reason so many disparate departments are unable to communicate with each other? The developer doesn’t always have time to teach the marketing department about the technical resources available to them how it can benefit their new campaign. Maybe misunderstanding the polymath is how some companies fail to connect certain dots. I can see now that it can truly inhibit innovation when there are a lack of people understanding strategic relationships.
Instead of hiding from this, I know now that I need to defend it. The pursuit of knowledge is never a detriment to business needs–it has to be a requirement.