In Tim Harford's latest article he said, "The advancing frontier of scientific knowledge forces most researchers to specialise in ever narrower fields and, as a result, collaboration between these silos is essential." As he also mentions, this isn't something happening just in science or research, but many other sectors from finance to retailing. We've progressed so far because of our ability to work together. But now we're so specialized that we're having trouble speaking to one other.
For anyone that's ever walked into a company from another industry, it doesn't take long to realize that it's not just what they do that's different, but also the entire language structure that allows them to do what they do. If splicing language was apparently so effective at creating barriers in babel, just imagine the hinderence our evolution to specialist groups can be.
So now the need for the glue is even greater, those few that bridge the gap between one person who knows how to do one thing and another who knows some complementary thing. If our world is more reliant on working together towards some end, these roles are not nice to haves but baseline essentials for progress. Especially now as a single engagement may touch everything from HR to community managers to media types and technologists working towards the same ends.
This is where strategists have to be at their best, defining meaty problems that allow various specialist types to find solutions meaningful to them, building a common language and environment that allows teams of different thinkers to work together and rallying the commitment that encourages projects to bloom.
Or as Tim finished, "Perhaps the real lesson is that promoting cross-disciplinary research need not require a mysterious blend of social-networking tools and funky collaborative architectural spaces. All that is sometimes required is a shared problem, or a shared set of tools, and, above all, the money to pay for the job to be done."
photo via carl heindl