In praise of generalists

Unspun thinks the man makes sense. John Maister wrote in Managing a Professional Services Firm that people hire service companies for three typs of work: Routine, Gray hair and Brain Surgeon.

The apex is Brain Surgeon type of work where the professional is hired for work that is pioneering and complex. To be able to do this the professional would need to have depth as well as breath of experience and knowledge. No specialist, one could argue, could easily become a Brain Surgeon a la Maister.

This all echoes Bernay’s dictum that the best PR people are those with Renaissance like interests, learning and curiosity. All hail the Generalist!

clipped from

Burson calls for return of PR generalists

by Arun Sudhaman���
4-Nov-08, 13:08
HONG KONG – Burson-Marsteller founder chairman Harold Burson (pictured) has warned the PR industry that increasing specialisation is hampering the emergence of executives who can run multi-disciplinary PR agencies.

“My concern is that young people get trained in a specific area and they don’t get as much interaction with other practices as they have in years past,” the 87-year-old told Media in Hong Kong. “It takes a generalist to oversee a large PR department.”

Burson added that tertiary institutions needed to a “better job” when it came to preparing students for careers in PR. “There’s already a lot of discussion about whether the PR curriculum is adequate. They are not turning out nearly as good writers as they did 20-30 years ago.”
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