Range

Range

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

David Epstein

Yokoi was the first to admit it. “I don’t have any particular specialist skills,” he once said. “I have a sort of vague knowledge of everything.” He advised young employees not just to play with technology for its own sake, but to play with ideas. Do not be an engineer, he said, be a producer. “The producer knows that there’s such a thing as a semiconductor, but doesn’t need to know its inner workings. . . . That can be left to the experts.” He argued, “Everyone takes the approach of learning detailed, complex skills. If no one did this then there wouldn’t be people who shine as engineers. . . . Looking at me, from the engineer’s perspective, it’s like, ‘Look at this idiot,’ but once you’ve got a couple hit products under your belt, this word ‘idiot’ seems to slip away somewhere.”

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