Meta-FNR II - meet Mr. Generalist ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Meta-FNR II - meet Mr. Generalist

generalist vs specialist.jpgToday should be called Meta-Monday… I seem to be in some kind of reflective or introverted mood. And as any blogger probably knows, moods and blogging, that's like a burger and fries—they go hand-in-hand. But no worries, tomorrow it's business as usual.

One thing I discussed in my last post was finding a job. Yesterday, during a jog, I thought it would be a good idea to crowdsource my application-letter when the time comes. I'm not sure if it's the best idea—no one I know does it, and probably for a good reason—but I'll consider it.

Another thought I had yesterday, was on the type of job I would be looking for. I already wrote about "one with broad development-opportunities," but that doesn't say anything about where to start. Yesterday, I actually argued with my father about this, as his vision of my vision is somewhat different of my vision of my vision—if that makes sense. Essentially the conversation went somewhat like this:

Me: "So, what would you guys think about me getting a job at a place like Ikea (just an example, don't get any ideas!)?"
Dad: "That's idiotic. If you want to start a restaurant, you should just start one. No detours. What does Ikea have to do with a restaurant anyway?"

What does Ikea have to do with a restaurant anyway?
That's a good question. First of all, I'm pretty sure I don't want to start a restaurant. Everything I've seen so far leads me to believe that it is a terrible environment: People are stressed and unfriendly, chefs are arrogant, long hours even after a start-up is no longer a start-up, etc. I might change my mind, but that just doesn't fit my vision.

Second, my attitude on business is that the product doesn't matter. But that said, I am more passionate about some products than others, namely food, media-related stuff, technology, etc. and I care a great deal about the atmosphere of the place.

So what does Ikea have to do with a restaurant? It sells goods to customers, which it sources from suppliers. It thinks about the customers, it competes with other businesses, it expands nationally and internationally, it works with suppliers, etc. Not to mention that it also has a restaurant. It's a business and its principles are just as applicable to a restaurant or any comparable business. The product doesn't necessarily matter.

That doesn't mean I want to work at IKEA per se, I'm making a different point.

Meet Mr. Generalist
The stereotype of a generalist is probably that he or she cares about everything and anything. I, being a generalist myself, don't agree with that. Instead a generalist, to me, means:
"To care about nothing specifically, instead to care about everything that produces an outcome. In business this means to care about the four dimensions that I mentioned in my last post: the components of the business; the value chain; the past, present, and future of the industry; and how people fit into the picture."
That said, nobody cares about nothing and the more experience you get, the more you will care about certain areas more than others.

In terms of people, I am constantly on the look-out for specialists—people with in-depth knowledge about a certain field—and to some extent generalists—people who also have a broad view about what makes a business function. The phase and size of a business certainly affects the need for either type of person. I can't say much more about this, except that just to find the best (wo)man for the job, is always the right attitude.

In regards to finding a job, being a generalist (probably) puts me in a similar conundrum to when I studied strategic management. There are no starting jobs as strategists, and I'm not sure that—at least in large firms—there are starting jobs for generalists either.

I think that I will have to decide in what function I want to start in and see what happens from there on in. I'm thinking logistics, but I will keep an open mind.

The image is courtesy of


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