Last week’s post on hyperspcialization drew quite an interesting discussion, which is being summarized here.
Olivier Blanchard over at the BrandBuilder blog picks up the conversation and adds a lot of interesting examples of how a broader background may help you innovate better then by being overly focused. He also makes the following recommendations “… my advice to you if you’re in a rut (or if you’re looking for your next big idea) is to just relax and go outside. Take a road trip. Take the afternoon off and go ride a bike. Go into a computer store and find out everything there is to know about inkjet printers. Go pick up a graphic design magazine and hang out at a tea bar. Take a stroll through an antique shop or your town’s hippest interior decorator’s gallery. Read a book about something you’ve never read about before. Go have a drink with a friend or a colleague or a competitor” – something I believe Tom Peters recommended over 20 years ago.
Mohamad Mova Al ‘Afghani over at NanoTechnology Law argues specifically about law in nanotechnology, and how a well formed legal platform for nanotech will have to be much broader than just one based on IP law. He also quotes Peter Drucker as saying “This is particularly important as innovation in any one knowledge area tends to originate outside the area itself….. The new approaches to the study of history have, for instance, come out of economics, psychology and archeology all disciplines that historians never considered relevant to their field and to which they had rarely before been exposed……. By itself, specialized knowledge yields no performance.”
Chuck Frey over at Innovation Tools wrote about this in the past and agrees that we need generalists to connect the dots.
Gautham Gosh over at Gautham Gosh on Management also wrote about this in the past, in one posts pointing to Dave Pollard from How to Save the World as saying that: “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. So parts of our brain get a lot of exercise and other parts very little. What’s worse, this can actually narrow our comfort zone, the range of things we enjoy doing or thinking about and are competent in.”
Steve Hardy over at Creative Generalist argues that ideas come from the confluence of multiple disciplines but that innovations are always the result of specialists.
In the comment section of the original post it was also suggested that perhaps hyper-specialization might have a negative effect on ethics.
Here are some other links on the topic if interested: