"Once you've become a specialist there is the danger of developing a skewed viewpoint on the things you research. It is vital to communicate with 'normal' human beings."
In the advertising game it's tough to remain a generalist. Either because you choose a particular discipline or happen to work in a particular corner of an agency and get labeled by what they "do" in that group.
Specialists are great, really great when you have a great one, but few truly are specialists. Often we forget that advertising, marketing, communications or whatever you want to call it is a specialization unto itself. Often one gets labeled a specialist because of a body of knowledge, but isn't specialization really when you have applicable expertise in an area not just know a lot about it? For example knowing how to design a wonderful consumer experience on a website. Or tell a great story through moving picture and sound in a :30 commercial. Manage the torrent of media in a crisis.
I've always faught specialization in what I do, and have passed up many opportunities because of it. At times felt less cool because of it. But it has been a conscious effort to master the expertise of managing a brand accross multiple hyper specializations. Orchestrating a team of specialists to work together towards a final output bigger than each on their own. It's not better or subservient to hyper specilization, it 's just different. A skill good for some clients/brands, and unecessary for other. Which is why I loved the above quote. Working with hyper specialists much time is devoted to opening of eyes beyond the skew of what they know. Don't get me wrong though, the skew can be a good thing. Sometimes it's necessary to get something fascinating or avoid paralasys of too much knowledge.
Though it does seem that more and more the most interesting things are coming from crossover artists, specialists who move outside their area or masters of one craft with interest in another.
One of my favorites who pops up in the press every so often in John Jay. An art expert, music maven, fashionista, chinese mythology expert and ECD at Wieden Kenned. A busy mix of expertise. His bilingual magazine, which doesn't post often is fascinating when he does. People you can't define are often the most intersting.
Now if only I can find a photo that represents the generalist.