One of the enduring phrases my father taught me is “trust, but verify.” It is not one that I use myself very often. But it is one that I think about a great deal. Within those three simple words is a great deal of complexity, and an opportunity for a profound amount of insight. It is a phrase that can also be misused: we can be overly intrusive in our approach, but we can also be neglectful. The challenge, as always is finding balance. How much can you trust? And how much do you need to verify?
I have always been a generalist. To a certain extent, that is the consequence of the foundation of my career being project management. Project managers are in many ways the ultimate generalists. Being a generalist, though, often gets dismissed or derided as lacking depth, being a dilettante or being variable in approach or understanding. Those ideas are embedded in the very definition of the term, and our system biases towards specialization and expertise reinforce them further. Despite this, generalists provide a critical role in collaboration and particularly problem solving; areas where depth of expertise is presumed to carry the day. It could be that being a generalist has expertise of its own.