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An Excerpt from this Book

A generalist’s role in every walk of human life is as important as buying daily needs for livelihood. Generalists are laced with the apparent knowledge of the surroundings, and their wisdom can be utilized in every walk of life, be it a business, sports, medicine, politics, or cultural sphere. Like all subjects of consideration, generalists also have some advantages and drawbacks. The things in their favor are a variety of job opportunities, career substitution, boost in confidence due to all-around knowledge and ability, early maturity due to facing daily hardships, the scope for both vertical and lateral movement, minimum job insecurity, etc. The drawbacks are less earning capacity due to easy availability, demanding job role due to competition, Confusion due to numerous job options.

Specialization performed in any area of operation is a challenging task. It involves a lot of studies, learning, hard work, and a considerable amount of cost. As a result, job compensation is also equal to the task. The job roles in case of specialists are time-bound and specific. The business units, dealing in products or services, are largely dependent on the specialists due to the supply constraint. The specialists are in high demand and with a proven track record; they become the decision-makers in an organizational structure. The specialists have their pros and cons too. The positivities are target-oriented jobs, high productivity, the higher scope of growth and compensation, rise in importance during industrial renovation, contribution towards economic emancipation, etc. The negativities are a decline in demand for a specific product or services, the monotony of work, absence of basic expertise in a large number of institutions, relocation, limited career options-both time consuming and cost-intensive.

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Choosing the path either of a generalist or a specialist is not a cakewalk. It is sometimes beyond understanding. One school of thought delivers that combined skills from a different set of human resources will serve the purpose. Another group of scholars is of the opinion that hiring specialists and concentrating on a predefined objective will suffice. Both dimensions can be defended. The best way of approach is to read the circumstances and act accordingly. Both generalists and specialists should co-exist in a bid to make the industry prosper. Certain renowned companies manufacture only specific products, and some have diversified their range of operations.

The roles of generalists and specialists are as relevant in a business set up as in other sectors such as computer or animal kingdom. Working in software is assigned to a generalist, but developing the software is the responsibility of a specialist, who has to learn computer languages very diligently. Likewise, an animal species can only exist in a specific environment. However, there are others who can survive in both favorable as well as adverse situations.

The generalists are flexible and can adjust to any area of operations by virtue of extensive knowledge.

The students, who are about to enter the world of career growth should judiciously choose between the two elements, i.e., either to be a generalist or a specialist. The decision has to be made in the backdrop of the changing scenario of the economic environment.

What is better to choose from, a generalist or a specialist? This is the matter of individual liking. If technology has to be grasped from the scratch, the job of a specialist will be ideal. The penchant for acquiring knowledge of different technologies may lead the person to become a generalist. Both the roles are essential in this modern era of development, and the right man in the right path will only succeed in this complex economic scenario.

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If a person wants to deeply understand the industry and the subsequent role, the skill sets are very important, especially if a management job is in the offing. Interconnectivity and massive communication skills are always accepted with pleasure in terms of so many things like budgets, forecasts, or other skills bigger than the specific role. This will benefit a specialist in an exemplary way to be a generalist as well.

Who has more growth opportunities – the specialist or generalist? Which is better? There are two options. First is to concentrate on a specific subject or skill set and secondly, to collect widespread knowledge and a variety of skills. The right approach is the admixture of both. The reason is quite clear. Having the qualities of generalists and specialists, a person can never be at risk of losing the job. In case of economic recession, a specialist can shift to multi-tasking and also a generalist, carrying rich experience and wisdom, can move to a specialist role if required.

The controversy over the role of the generalist and the specialist in the economy of a nation is always a debatable issue. However, it is very reassuring to note that both generalists and specialists have not lost their relevance in the larger scenario of economic viability and competitive age. Each can replace the other in a critical situation for the betterment of the organization.

Now, finally, from the viewpoint of an employer, who is best suited to cater to ever-present business needs-a generalist or a specialist? The middle path is always a suitable answer. The T-shaped employee skillset, accommodating both generalists and specialists, is the best option, which enables both employer and employees to strike a chord of harmony and take the business unit to the path of progress.

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The future of budding aspirants is also a vital dimension to consider. The cautious approach is the need of the hour to excel in any future endeavor. Therefore, an individual, who is interested in any domain, whether it is business or employment, should have deep thought before venturing upon. A logical and rational perspective will surely lead to a prosperous future.

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