The Pareto Principle In A Convergence Economy

Specialization, Polymaths And The Pareto Principle In A Convergence Economy

Economists tell us that the history of human labor is one of continually increasing specialization. In the days of the hunter-gatherer, every member of the tribe would have been expected to command some degree of proficiency with each task. As we progressed along the economic continuum from hunter-gatherer through agrarian and industrial and now into post-industrial economies, the labor force has become more fragmented, with workers having more and more specialized skill sets. Historically, specialization has been a path to prosperity. Although specialization has certain economic advantages, in the era of technological convergence, well-educated generalists will be those who are the most valuable. It is time for a renaissance of the “Renaissance Man.” The idea of the “Renaissance Man” or polymath came about during the Renaissance period, and is the idea that anyone who applies themselves can be exceptional at poetry, art, science, mathematics, athletics and any other field that catches their attention. The Renaissance thinkers recognized both the potential of individuals as well as the enormous value to being well-rounded. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way the idea of someone who dabbled in many fields lost its cultural appeal and we began to praise those who sought deep subject matter expertise. We now live in a world where distinctions between formerly separate industries are breaking down and the real opportunities for growth are where those industries intersect. Harnessing these 21st-century opportunities will require people who are “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” or, perhaps more accurately, master polymaths. Being a polymath is not only an advantage in the modern economy, but it is extremely efficient. Many people are familiar with the Pareto Principle, or as it is more commonly known, the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is a specific expression of the power law and says, in many […]