How Much Specialization? | Scott H Young - Deepstash
How Much Specialization? | Scott H Young

How Much Specialization? | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

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The power of specialisation

The power of specialisation

Without specialisation, we would not have computers, the internet, cars, antibiotics, or all the other more sophisticated things.

Specialisation creates wealth. The power of specialisation is related to the size of the economy. In a small village, there's only so much specialisation, such as a teacher. But in a global economy, there is an increased payoff for specialisation.

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The dangers of excessive specialisation

Specialisation means focusing on one area to the exclusion of everything else. It can be great when all is well but disastrous when it fails.

The tech industry is booming at present, but nothing lasts forever. A political change could stifle innovation. Economic centres could shift from the West. There's always a risk that a niche skillset can become obsolete.

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Balancing depth and breadth

Two points should be noted:

  • Specialisation is essential.
  • Specialisation without any breadth is risky. Living inside a hyper-focused skillset can feel comfortable, but it has hidden costs. Your skill can become less valuable, and you could miss opportunities because you specialised in the wrong skill.

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Simple rules to help knowing where to invest

  • Moving upwind. When you are unsure of which path to follow, choose the one with the most options.
  • Specialise in work, generalise in play. Keep your work focused, but vary your intellectual pursuits. For example, you may be a software developer by day, but learn languages and history by night.
  • Cycle depth and breadth. Oscillate between periods of specialisation and periods of exploration.

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Currently in love with cycling. Obsessed with creating helpful stuff.

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