There is a never ending debate – not in consulting, but across the board in all things – whether you should play to your strengths, or bolster your weaknesses. Do we value niche and specificity more than versatility and flexibility? Traditional models of education promote the Renaissance ideal of well rounded students, yet our job markets seem to have promoted niche employment more and more. However, in medical schools we’re starting to see more Liberal Art’s students gaining admission, is this a sign of a potential swing back toward well roundedness? Or are we continuing on with a pattern of specificity.
If you’re skilled at management, you should manage. If you have superb technical skills, you should use them.
When someone has a problem that relates to your specific ability, you may well be the first name that pops into their head. Highly trained, highly specific skills creates a sense of depth to your resume.
The problem with this specificity is that you will also only be relevant in highly specific scenarios as well. As more diverse problems arise, you become less and less relevant. In some ways, this can be a blessing – you know that jobs you accept will only be along one particular description. As a businessperson, that sounds great. My concern with that is what it implies for you as a person.
Admittedly, my bias is toward a diverse life. Challenges grant us the opportunity to learn, niches only limit the scope of our thinking. I propose that – though not the savviest business move, at least studying and understanding topics outside of your particular expertise makes you a more well rounded individual. Medical schools are admitting fewer Pre-Med degrees with this logic “We can teach you all the medical knowledge you’ll need, we can’t teach you to be an interesting person or conversationalist.” What gets hospitals sued? If you answered “malpractice” you’d be oddly wrong. Most suits stem from a patient feeling like they weren’t cared for, that they were only a patient – not a person.
In the same way, technical skills don’t create sales. Sales come from a variety of factors that all have to be pitched in a compelling manner.
Any opinions to the contrary?