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Why Generalists are Critical to Innovation

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Informative perspectives from Bill Gates and David Epstein on why generalists are critical to innovation. In wicked environments, i.e. those with problems that cannot be definitively resolved, relying upon expertise from a single domain can be disastrous. In one 20-year study, researchers found that, on average, hyperspecialists were bad at both short-term and long-term forecasting in every domain. But there was one subgroup that turned out to be much more accurate. These were experts who were not vested in a single approach, chose to look at new evidence, whether or not it agreed with their current beliefs, and were much more likely to adjust their ideas when an outcome took them by surprise.

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