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Hey hey, lovely friends. Summer's in full swing here in London: I am covered in cat-hair, along with everything I own, yet the cat doesn't seem to get any less hairy. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ
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GENERALISM: When you want something difficult done, you need a specialist. Right? But then we've all had direct experience of this not being the case. The obvious example is medicine: your birth was likely overseen by a specialist, sure, but since then your first port of call has been a generalist.

From the moment I realised I wasn't good at anything in particular, I've been interested in the role of generalists. So it won't surprise you that I've been enjoying reading Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, in which journalist David Epstein argues that specialisation is overrated.

The whole point of specialising is to be able to apply experience. Yet there's good evidence that generalists navigate uncertainty better. By analysing over 80,000+ forecasts from 284 professional forecasters, Professor Phillip Tetlock found that experts are less accurate predictors than non-experts in their area of expertise. Therein lies the paradox of specialists: a tendency to apply entrenched beliefs rather than to respond to observations.

It's unfashionable to back generalism, particularly in an era of fetishised technological disruption, but those who 'change lanes' and have far reaching interests are able to bring broader experience to any given task. That's not to say this approach universally beats the deep study of anything, but relying solely on specialism may give a narrower view than a blend of both approaches. Indeed, the question of specialist versus generalist is better thought of not as whether, but when. πŸ¦”πŸ¦Š
🐦 An Appreciation for the Cancelled β€˜Tuca & Bertie’: Netflix killed off one of my absolute favourites, an experience to which I expect we're all going to have to get familiar.

πŸ‘– Women's Pockets are Inferior: the data are in, and it's really true. Another spectacular data visualisation from The Pudding. Tangentially related...

πŸ‘› Men Know It’s Better to Carry Nothing: if freedom from having to carry stuff is power, maybe pocket equality is redundant. I've confused myself now πŸ€”

🏞 Landscape with Beavers: the numerous subtle ways in which beavers positively impact river systems is becoming clear. Believe in the beaver!

πŸ—ž News consumption in the UK: interesting data from Ofcom.  Broadcast TV continues to dominate but continues to decline.

πŸ›€ Emotionally stunted stunting: social media mimics community even though it pushes us further away from each other.

πŸ‘© Top jobs lead to divorce for women, but not for men according to a study in Sweden. Not a pleasant headline, but good that we're getting down to this level of understanding of how the workplace should evolve.
Generalists at work: More organisations, from the US Navy to the CIA, are realising the limitations of a specialist-only approach, particularly as automation creeps forth. So can you be a professional generalist without becoming a dogsbody? Possibly: there's an argument even for career generalists, given that generalists get better job offers.

Some roles, such as B2B sales, benefit from specialist experience. But many more would benefit from generalising. Indeed, overspecialising may be detrimental in fields such as product management, creative and design. Indeed, generalism in design, the ability to turn to any problem, has been called an underrated superpower.

Other roles sound like specialisms, but in fact seem to benefit from a generalist approach. Teams working on tasks like programming and data science seem to work best when there's a blend of approaches available. Hardly surprising.

Yet in spite of all this, in what should be a golden age for generalism, it's under threat and the work of generalists is undervalued, as explained in this excellent TED talk by General Practitioner Dr. Ayan Panja. I can't recommend this one highly enough. πŸ“Ί
Finally: Taylor Swift Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best is precisely critical and praising where required. πŸ‘„

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