In building and boosting organizational capabilities that is all about expertise, so watch out carefully the generalist trap. Let us approach and reflect on the generalist versus expert so called dilemma, which professionals and organizations very often face. …in fact, there no such dilemma, as what is out there is the generalist trap and the expertise success path.
Both professionals and organizations should be very suspicious when prone to seek for redeployment of internal resources, flexibility and rotation without a solid basis and a clear destination in terms of career development, organization capability and competitiveness in strategic goals. In most of the cases, those arguments are quick fix, short term low cost/effort solutions, that just produce generalists. On one side destroying people’s careers and on the other side producing undifferentiated and uncompetitive organizations.
In reality, what is behind is lack of proper leadership, assertiveness, fragile decision making and lack of strategic direction…or lack of commitment to that same strategy and lack of ability to implement it.
People also often try to position and sell themselves as generalists, with the wrong idea that they will improve their odds to get a job.
Working at executive selection at senior level for many years in very diverse environments, we clearly see what becoming a generalist means for the individual: losing their brand and their edge, getting a faded grey professional profile and at the end becoming uncompetitive on the labour market.
This is the generalist trap!
Competitive, game changing organizations and professionals are built on expertise. Expertise being that incredibly powerful weighted equation of focused knowledge, practice and consistent success on continuously more demanding goals and challenging environments.
To become an expert and to develop an organization powered by expertise you will also apply rotation of professionals but you will do it in a rising spiral path, with clear and pre-establish purpose targeted towards a clear individual and organizational capability destination. This will give you the wining blend of talent management: individual career development and organization capability development. That is also the way to get the efficiency prize and the market winning differentiation.
Having identified now the generalist trap and the expertise success path for both people and organizations, we are very clear that we need to design our business strategy based on expertise. That requires not only the right expert for each role but also:
• Identifying the key areas of the organization where you need to invest continuously a plus more on expertise. The areas that will , sustainably, support your key differentiators on the market place, being those either products , services, solutions and/or processes.
• The organization’s commitment and ability to maintain the expertise edge in a sustainable manner, through talent management, training, development, head hunting, I&D, partnerships, industry forums.
Then we are ready to enjoy the prize of an organization full of people that enjoy seeing their company continuously improving, consistently winning and being better than others from the customers and shareholders points of view. As expertise is what really makes the whole difference!
…and if you have any doubt about this , just think for example about health care or sports : would you even consider going on surgery indistinguishably under a brain, hart , stomach professional …or would you support a soccer/football team where players would be put indistinguishably as goal keepers, strikers or midfielders…?
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