“Being a good person doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good employee. It means that you’re going to be a good employee and last longer than the majority of your co-workers.” – Jason Friedberg & David Heinemeier Hansson
It is difficult to be a generalist. It will take you longer to understand many topics, and it is also more likely that you will make mistakes and fail in many projects, because you are unable to focus on one specific topic. Many project managers even allow their team members a “generalist’s job title” in order to give them more time to work on their project, which acts as both a reward and an incentive. Finding a job title that captures this combination of efficiency and specialization has been relatively difficult. “PRINCE” is the most prominent example of a generalist job title, because it can be used to refer to a variety of projects. However, it is also very confusing and misleading.
Some specialists, however, claim that being a specialist is more difficult and harder to maintain than being a generalist. Generalists can always fall back on their ability to just “go with the flow” and solve problems from a perspective of common sense. Specialists, on the other hand, often feel an obligation to be even better at their job than they were before. Indeed, as much as specialists are praised for their strengths, they are usually also well aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings.
Why Being Patient is Important
On his website , Jason Friedberg talks about a story where he was hired as an “interim” employee at 37signals. People at 37signals were so amazed that they made him their permanent employee. He discusses this story in the context of the “KISS” principle, even though the story illustrates that being patient is necessary to succeed in many situations. Here is what Jason says:
“The KISS principle, which stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid”, is a very simple concept that can be applied in many different ways (engineering, finance, marketing, etc.). It basically means that you should design your products or services with the intent of making them as easy and straightforward as possible.
However, simplicity is not easy. Anyone can build a complicated product or service. That’s actually the easy part. The hard part is building something simple that still has all the features that your customers need and want.
The patient are rewarded in many ways (should be).”