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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do not pursue single skill in today's economy

In the blog on skill combinations, i had written that in aesthetic fields, indepth skills in one field - be it playing guitar, singing, drawing -  are more useful than combining two skills, say of music and drawing. When i heard the concert of Salil Kulkarni and Sandeep Khare last Sunday at Kalidas Natyagruh, i realised that i was mistaken.

Here are two diverse personalities who have created something unique by combining two different skills: Music and Poetry. Salil Kulkarni has been a musician. He learnt music at a very young age. He has composed music for many albums. On the other hand, Sandeep Khare has been a poet. His interest in music comes from his parental background in music. He calls himself a poet who can sing.These two met each other after hearing about others work, found a common 'passion' in presenting poetry with music, and started this concert where poems are recited and sung.

No one could have imagined the success of this concert. It was 880th show when i heard it last week. But after hearing the concert now, one can easily guess the reasons of success. In my view, the concert is successful because it fuses thought and emotion. When we hear poetry alone, we use intellect to understand the brilliant expression of a beautiful and sometimes complex thought in very few words. When we hear music alone, we have to use our senses, the sense of hearing. We would not go to poetry concert until we are a poetry lover, and we would not go to music concert until we are a music lover. But because of this combination of poetry and music in one concert, many of us like to go to this concert because we can hear our own thoughts presented in a nice way. The experience of concert is more 'complete' and  'fulfilling', because we are fusing our body ( senses) and mind ( intellect) together in one whole.

In today's world, you will observe an array of interesting jobs where skill combinations are more important than deep skill in one area. In some jobs, the skill combination is done by one person, while in some jobs the skill combination has to be done by two different persons, because the specialities are too deep to be learnt by one person.

Skill combinations in one person

Here is a sample list of skill combinations that an individual can combine in his work:
  • Sports Combinations - Sports coach is a combination of enough knowledge of game, say football, and how the skill of game grows in a player. Jose Mourinho is an example of a football player who became coach. If you see back end jobs in sports - like sports commentators, sport umpires, sport administrators, sport event managers - you will see that the sports field  requires people many people who have combination skills, than one dimensional skill like football
  • Music engineer: In this combination, the skill of music can be combined with the skill of engineering. Please check out this link and you will be surprised to observe the numerous ways in which music can be combined with other skills. Another example of music combination is film direction. Many directors like Raj Kapoor and Subhash Ghai have succeeded because they could combine 'music' in their film very seamlessly with their 'film story'. Music field requires many professionals with skill combinations, than just a single skill of music alone.  
  • Manager - is a combination of one focused skill such as engineering Plus enough 'Mind growth' (mental growth that we discussed in an earlier blog ) that is required. That is why all doers cannot become managers. That is why all players cannot become good captains. One such example is Sachin Tendulkar. Skill combination of manager or supervisor is in high demand all the time. 
  • Software combinations - Practically everything in software, the fastest growing sector in any economy, requires combination of two skills. For example, ERP analyst in SAP requires understanding the underlying business process ( of sales or production) along with the 'software' skill.
If you observe the increasing specialities in today's economy, it is obvious that the growing areas of excellence in today's economy are not the areas of excellence in one speciality, but those areas that require combination of two specialities. For instance, it is not surprising to observe that fastest growth in the last two decades has been in the field of MBA, the field that requires a combination of skills, not just sales alone, or production alone, or finance alone. 

Skill combinations done by two people

Growing specialisation in today's economy also makes it imperative that, to produce something unique, one should collaborate with someone else to combine the two skills. Salil Kulkarni's collaboration with Sandeep Khare is one such example. In other words, the skill of collaboration is not just a nice-to-have skill, but it is highly useful skill that can make a huge difference in one's career. However, in our academic education, where individual performance is encouraged, this skill of collaborating with others is not learnt unconsciously by graduates. Graduates have to learn this skill consciously and deliberately.

Another skill of great premium today therefore is a great combination skill called entrepreneurial skill. An entrepreneur, to be successful, has to be a master in combining two or more skills. After understanding the market  and discovering an unsolved problem, he must possess the skill of bringing diverse skills together to 'solve' the given problem. He must have the vision of solving the bigger issue and be able to 'sell' the vision  to others to bring them together on a common platform.

In short, it is far more prudent to pursue skill-combinations in a career, either alone or with some other person, because that is far more profitable and useful in today's economy.

How are you getting prepared to survive and flourish in today's specialised economy? Is it by developing one skill? Combining two skills within yourself? Or combining two skills of two different people? 

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