When you work at a company like Shell, or Bhopal/ Dow Chemicals are you responsible for all their actions and policies?
Or are you only responsible for your part of the system. Should you feel responsible?
Let's say you work in a factory. Than you are part of a long chain off events. All these events (from raw materials to a finished product being used and thrown away by a consumer) are organised within a system. But you will most likely not have an overview and only be focused on you tiny part.
That's probably because you are a specialist. You are educated to be a specialist because companies and organisation needed specialists far more than generalists.
This seems to be changing. But besides that it's likely there will be a bigger demand for generalists in the near future, there might a positive side effect.
This is just a though: A generalist will more likely to have more of an overview. Which will make it harder to neglect any wrongdoing by the company he/she works for. When there are more people aware of any problems, it is harder to hide it from the general public... this might necessitate another attitude from corporations.
Good question. Hard question. My start-up company whynot is also discussing that topic. We would like to select customers also on their sustainability — but it is hard to draw the line. Any solutions around?
I thought about this question briefly while watching the hockey game last night.
I was wondering where you got your figures saying that generalists are being adopted in the modern business world. Everywhere I look, I see organizations that have implemented either horizontal (essentially) cross-functional teams with passive management, or a traditional vertical hierarchy. Perhaps fields other than defense and military have adopted a true horizontal or boundaryless structure with cross-functional team composed of generalists.
I personally am opposed to moving toward the generalists. It wouldn't be possible to create an organization that cares with generalists; e.g. specialist jobs would be eliminated to make way for the generalists that would mind for all tasks the specialists previously did. Could this phenomenon be somehow compared with the elimination of jobs due to technology?
Individualism would also be a factor in this, especially in a capitalist system. Take your drinking water for example. With a generalist, there is more of a risk for a disgruntled employee to dirty the drinking water for the entire organization--perhaps ultimately destroying their potential for public interface.
Perhaps it's not possible for organizations to create systems that care in an capitalist economy. Perhaps the socialist or communist economic organizations must be considered when thinking in terms of equality and eliminating individualism. Maybe even the organizational behavior and culture standards could be evaluated.
Maybe the words Generalist is not the right word. I wanted to say T-shaped person... but I don't like such labels. But maybe Creative Thinker is closer to what I mean.
I have no numbers, I have a gut feeling and years experience to see there is a shift happening.
And naturally specialist will always be needed. And we are looking for a good balance between the specialist and the "creative Thinkers" in a company.
And to generalize it a bit further: The specialist has underdeveloped emphatic abilities, the creative thinker has strong emphatic abilities.
So, what I'm just trying to say is: When there are more creative thinkers in a company, with stronger empathic abilities, it might have a positive effect. (I'm not looking for perfect, but for "best intentions.)