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Breadth Not Depth

September 2019

From an early age we are asked, “What do you want to be [or do] when you grow up?” By the time we enter the workforce, the message becomes clear - if you want a job, specialize. The more you can focus on a specific task or area of focus, the more hireable you will be. From performing a specific trade to studying a specific part of the body or atom, specialists seem to rule the workforce. However, through reading this book, Range, we learn that specialization isn’t as valuable as it appears. 

From sports to science, there are dozens of juicy examples of generalists triumphing over specialists. You’ll have to read the book yourself, but the takeaway should be - it’s all about “breadth not depth.” In an imperfect world where variables are constantly changing, an understanding of multiple subjects or disciplines allows for far greater breakthrough.


I’ll leave you with just one example from the book that relates closely to the filmmaking field. In a study following comic book creators’ careers, researchers Taylor and Greve, hypothesized that the most successful creators would be the ones who made more comics in a given span of time (repetition). They also hypothesized that as a creator’s years of experience in the industry increased, they would make better comics on average (experience). This all proved wrong as they discovered the greatest indication for success was in how many of the 22 different genres the creator had worked in. Broad genre experience made creators better on average and more likely to innovate.

What does this all mean for you? First, read the book because it is fascinating and enlightening on many levels, and second, we should all strive to learn about all that interests us without the fear of spending time on something that isn’t going to help us specialize to a greater degree. All your experience and knowledge will fuel your particular craft.

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