Four Star Generalist

As the world advances and all of the world's information is available in your pocket, just a Google search away, certain things become evident. One, there is a stupefying load of information out there. Two, you can't be an expert in all things. Three, being able to sort information becomes one of the most important things to be done.

What has happened generally is that the more information that is available, the deeper into specific subjects people have gone. Experts get so far down the rabbit hole the light of the world above is barely visible. When someone is completely invested in the intricacies of something, it becomes incredibly difficult for them to communicate it. Don't get me wrong, they can explain it, but it's more of a dissertation than a conversation.

What these specialists need is a generalist. Generalists come in a variety of forms. Often they are those that mediate between groups. They are the people that identify the way things link together between a variety of subjects. They are the people that know enough to be dangerous but also enough to steer disparate groups of people towards a common goal. You would never ask them how to do your job, but they can tell you how your job relates to others and how others can help you do your job better.

Designers like to describe themselves as being specialists. We sell ourselves as communication specialists or branding experts. We use the tools of our trade to try and sharpen the point; we're experts in new media, print, typography, and on and on and on. Perhaps designers should re-imagine themselves a bit.

Maybe designers need to remember to tout themselves as generalists. The best deisgn comes from people who have understandings of all the machinations at work with their client's business. They take that understanding and find the ways that it resonates in other realms. They connect disparate ideas in such a way that they have emotional power. Perhaps that is the most important thing a good designer does. They have an understanding of the rational and the emotional and where they intersect.

We try to sell clients our services as if we were engineers, or scientists. But then we describe our results as  "vibes" and "feelings". Sure there's some measured responses, but people don't have allegiances to measured results, they have allegiances to brands they connect with on an emotional and sometimes rational level.

In the battle for hearts and minds what a team needs is a four star generalist.