Range

Range

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

David Epstein

“What I mean,” she said, “is I’m not qualified fundamentally to do what I do.” She described her approach to innovation almost like investigative journalism, except her version of shoe-leather reporting is going door-to-door among her peers. She is a “T-shaped person,” she said, one who has breadth, compared to an “I-shaped person,” who only goes deep, an analog to Dyson’s birds and frogs. “T-people like myself can happily go to the I-people with questions to create the trunk for the T,” she told me. “My inclination is to attack a problem by building a narrative. I figure out the fundamental questions to ask, and if you ask those questions of the people who actually do know their stuff, you are still exactly where you would be if you had all this other knowledge inherently. It’s mosaic building. I just keep putting those tiles together. Imagine me in a network where I didn’t have the ability to access all these people. That really wouldn’t work well.”

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