Home > Musings, Personal > Are you a Specialist, Generalist, or a Versatilist?

Are you a Specialist, Generalist, or a Versatilist?

November 13th, 2008

Thomas L. Friedman presents an interesting study in his book titled: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century:

The Gartner study noted that “specialists generally have deep skills and narrow scope, giving them expertise that is recognized by peers but seldom valued outside their immediate domain. Generalists have broad scope and shallow skills, enabling them to respond or act reasonably quick but often without gaining on demonstrating the confidence of their partners or customers. Versatilists, in contrast, apply depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships, and assuming new roles.” Versatilists are capable of not only of constantly adapting but also of constantly learning and growing.

Friedman goes on to suggest that in order for knowledge workers to remain globally competitive we need to be versatile. “[We] can’t just be head down, eye on the glass”, instead we need to be cultivating our core knowledge which can provide the versatility to transition through industries or technology, and we “have got to be able to see things from the business’, the customers’, and the market’s perspective.’ He also makes the point that most corporate training policies are outdated in our post globalized world, and that we should be taking educational and training into our own hands.

technical aptitude will no longer be sufficient to secure their future in IT organizations. Skepticism toward the effectiveness of IT, the rise of IT automation, worldwide geographic labour shifts and multi-sourcing will lead to the emergence of a new breed of IT professional, the ‘versatilist’, who will have technical aptitude, local knowledge, knowledge of industry processes and leadership ability. – Gartner Says Technical Aptitude No Longer Enough To Secure Future for IT Professionals 

For me, being a versatilist means embracing, higher level software design strategies, design / architecture patterns, management techniques, and honing communication / presentation skills.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:
  1. November 16th, 2008 at 17:59 | #1

    Specialists are a dying breed. Just look at designers that are still latching onto print. If you don’t know the rules, how can you break them?

    I dig the term Versatilists, we need more of them.

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