Currently, formal expertise in any subject matter manifests as silos. Each area of expertise is deep, focused, and vertically specialised.

There is minimal crossover with other silos. A typical expert may have only one or two deep silos. Over time, experts build up so much critical mass in their silos that it may become very difficult if not impossible to start new silos. Experts probably tend to end up building more expertise within existing silos only.


On the other hand, wide generalists have some knowledge and experience across a wider range of subject matters. Such a person would do well on the quiz show circuit. In an extreme case, however, this is where the saying "Jack of all trades but master of none" can unfortunately apply.


Deep generalists have a mixed bag of shallow and deep silos. The deep silos may not be as deep as that of specialists, but they are deeper than those of other generalists.


The idea of a Deep Generalist fascinates me. They combine a diverse set of skills that are applicable across many different areas, as well as a set of deep expertise.

The diversity of skills and knowledge is innately pro-curiosity and anti-boredom. It speaks of a desire to pursue what is interesting, to a deep enough level. Not the ultimate expert, but enough to interface with the real experts when needed.

They also have the needed deep expertise to get hands-on results when required.

Deep generalists are the pattern weavers, the big-picture seers, the innovators. They can switch between the big picture and detailed views of an endeavour – getting the detailed work done without losing sight of the strategy. They have a mixture of vision, execution, and the ability to look sideways into other silos.

So which one are you?