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At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor

The era of problem-solving generalists

The era of problem-solving generalists

From an era of specialized workers having expertise in one particular activity, the professional world has slowly moved towards problem-solving generalists. Workers are asked to don different hats and do more with fewer resources, and without specialized training.

HR consulting firms see the rise of hybrid jobs when two or more positions are combined to be performed by one individual.

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At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor

At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/07/future-of-work-expertise-navy/590647/

theatlantic.com

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Key Ideas

The era of problem-solving generalists

From an era of specialized workers having expertise in one particular activity, the professional world has slowly moved towards problem-solving generalists. Workers are asked to don different hats and do more with fewer resources, and without specialized training.

HR consulting firms see the rise of hybrid jobs when two or more positions are combined to be performed by one individual.

The pursuit of mastery

Mastery, once a sought-after attribute, is falling out of favour, according to the 2016 World Economic Forum report, and is slowly clearing the field for employees who can:

  • Have a diverse set of skills.
  • Can display the mental agility to switch between tasks.
  • Are able to pivot towards a new problem or activity.
  • Can take on a variety of roles at a short notice.

Expertise decline consequences

With the value of true expertise in serious decline, and the economy evolving towards a different set of requirements from employees, the impact on college education, career paths, worker safety, employability and even the nature of work is going to be profound.

New sought personality traits

The personality traits of employees seen in many new organizations:

  1. Fluid Intelligence: The raw processing power that combines working memory with a dynamic kind of intelligence, mostly found in youngsters.
  2. Conscientiousness: Trustworthy, compassionate, people, who are high on emotional quotients.
  3. Openness To The New: People who are less focused on doing a particular thing in the right way, and more towards trying to do the right thing. This is also termed as ‘distractibility’.

Grit

The most sought after skill in educational and professional circles, a person who can work in a single task with complete tenacity and focus, blocking any distractions. The skill is valued in stable environments where rigid adherence to routine is a good thing.

When rules, roles and conditions rapidly change, grit gives way to ‘psychological hardiness’ where one tends to see all experiences as interesting, useful and meaningful, along with a high level of self-confidence.

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Dale Carnegie

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"What's the worst that can happen?"

When worries overwhelm you:

  1. Ask yourself what's the worst that could possibly happen. 
  2. Prepare to accept the worst.
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Gathering facts objectively
  • You can pretend that you're gathering this data for someone else, so you're distancing yourself emotionally  from the process.
  • You can pretend that you're a lawyer who is preparing to argue the other side of the issue — so you gather all the facts against yourself. Write down the facts on both sides of the case and you'll generally get a clearer picture of the truth.

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Don't follow your passion
The main flaw of  “finding your passion” presupposes that interests and passions are fixed, rather than fluid and evolving as we age and gain wisdom and experience. 
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  • It will turn a passion into a job. 
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  1. Identify real needs in the market that are currently not being well met. 
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Getting your team on board

The idea that we need everyone on board before taking action in the workplace prevents teams from shifting from 'discussion' to 'doing.'

'Doing' is often framed in terms of proving and...

Commit to Actions

Trying to get people "on board" means trying to get people to align their actions and behaviors, as well as change their mindset. Aiming to change their mindsets adds a burden that will delay progress.

It is better to simply commit actions. Don't try to convince dissenters and outliers that their thinking should change since the decision will still play out in the future. As long as they commit to the decision with their actions, it is enough.