Are You A Multidisciplinary Maestro?

As we all know, the days of being exclusively a “specialist” in whatever discipline or skill you once were most versed in and comfortable with on a daily basis based on your education and experience have been 86ed in today’s career landscape. Where we once had assembly lines and divided departments doing one task, we now have “juggling circles” to balance many functions. However, it can be difficult for even the smartest of professionals to master multiple disciplines for anyone with a “normal”/standard 40-50 hour-type of operating bandwidth.

  Even though many of us are fortified with a constantly churning buffet of software and content distribution applications and equipped with smart phones, tablets and laptops, we can’t all be a master of all trades. Employers may not always appreciate this when they see you juggling plates and knives while pirouetting backwards on a unicycle.

With the evaporation of jobs in many industries due to an assortment of operating and financial factors, the precious supply of coveted positions has organizations calling for The Avengers super multi-disciplinary team in the form of one person. Here is your charge: You will be a department of one, your budget has been slashed, here is the pile of neglected projects along with ideas for new ones; this is your mission, should you choose to accept it… 

Are you able to design an advertisement, enhance your website, analyze the P&L statements, respond to an RFP or assemble a newsletter if that’s not your primary role and the designated person is out? Can you step in as a media spokesperson for your organization if you are a deputy and the main public information officer is on the beach for two weeks?

Two years ago I sat next to a local publisher at a dinner who remarked that it is always beneficial to your career to have occupied “different seats on the bus” in terms of one’s skills and experience. This statement resonated with me, as I was once more of a “one-trick pony” writer/media relations officer for many years.

Over the last seven years, it has been a great experience for me to become immersed in learning new software while embrace other roles of leadership in the field. These progressions are always worthwhile and rewarding for personal growth throughout the challenges and frustrations that may arise at times where you feel you may be lacking in some areas.

Are you a “Special Generalist” or a “General Specialist?” Though it is a jumble of interchangeable semantics, I see the difference in this fashion:

  • The former may be more advanced as he or she has a deeper knowledge base and experience foundation in a wider range of professions or skills to impart counsel and direction for his or her group, department or organization.
  • The latter is still climbing and gaining the valuable exposure to the spectrum of disciplines that has led to the merging compartmentalization  of the marketing communications field in this social and mobile media mania age. This person has experience in several areas on an intermediate level but is likely focused on one or two areas before progressing to a broader level of expertise to become a “Special Generalist”.

Or vice versa, that’s confusing when you look at those adjective pairings for a minute. If you are a multidisciplinary maestro, be kind and patient with the hungry, diligent dabblers.

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