I vote for the generalist

Life rewards expertise.  Judges earn more than factory workers (mostly), society respects experts (we award them AO’s and AM’s simply for doing their job) and it appears to make sense to seek out experts to solve your problems  – who wants to use  GP, when you can have the ophthalmologist look at your eye problem.   Universities market expertise as the secret to success, and it appears they are right for individual careers.

However the question is: are experts good for society as a whole,  and your business?

Problem 1 – Experts are very good at arguing their point of view.  If you knew what they do,  it would be unlikely that you would speak to them.  However the same thing that makes them have value (the knowledge imbalance) is the same thing that makes them dangerous.  You see if you don’t understand their field, how can you judge whether they are giving you the best answer, let alone understand their argument?

Problem 2 – Experts specialise.  which means they learn more and more about less and less – and as they saying goes “eventually they know everything about nothing”.   Their point of view is inherently biased.  And the more expertise they have, the more their point of view is biased.

So why is this a real  problem?

Consider ….

The Global Financial Crisis – A huge variety of experts over decades; designed the financial markets, products and controls that Global Financial markets worked with.  Turned out that greed wasn’t good.  Bugger

Iraq – The experts argued successfully that the Weapons of Mass Destruction were in Iraq.  The war will have cost America directly around $700B by the end of this year with 15,00 soldiers dead over 30,000 injured (and ho knows how many civilians in trouble).  Turned out though that the WMD were actually in North Korea.  Bugger.

The Government -We had a decade of prosperity that was apparently due to the excellent Financial Management in Australia.  Turned out that this was just a impact of globalisation and “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  Bugger.

Medicine – Even our highest profile surgeons aren’t always getting it right.  Unfortunately It takes a panel of other surgeons to decide whether fraud has taken place because its to difficult for the laymen to understand where out taxes are going.  Bugger.

So what’s the point of this rant?  Have a think about your own business.  If the only people you get advice from our experts (your accountant and lawyer) be afraid.  Time to get a generalist at the table to make connections the others can’t see and put some balance in your life.