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The Benefits And Pitfalls Of Specialisation

Are you a Zebra or a Wildebeest? 

The benefits and pitfalls of specialisation 

Specialisation is key to achieving certain levels of success. 

Usain Bolt does one thing really well. And that works for him. At his level of sportsmanship and athleticism, it’s perfectly acceptable for him not to be a great pole-vaulter as well. He is fast, he is successful, that is enough.  

The same goes for Serena Williams. She is great at tennis, not ice hockey, and no one faults her on it.  

It’s clear that there are benefits to specialisation. 

Seeing as most of us won’t be able to specialise our daily lives to the level of success of these athletes, it’s a good idea to take both the pros and cons of business specialisation into account before deciding on your path. 

On the plus side:  

A specialized business can benefit from increased focus and efficiency. Having all aspects of your business geared towards offering one particular product or service, can lead to fewer mistakes and better performance.  

Simplification can also mean that you can save money and time by streamlining your need for resources.  

Having a specialized workforce who all understand the core business means they will need less supervision and you can easily have more control of the processes that run your business. 

Specialization, however, doesn’t guarantee success. 

On the downside: 

It’s common knowledge that new tasks keep the brain engaged. There is always a risk that complacency that comes from the repetition of the same task can lead to mistakes and missteps.  

Employee boredom is another real problem. If someone is paid to do the same menial, mindless task day in and day out, it will be difficult to keep them motivated and foster a growth mindset within the workplace. 

On the other hand, a high level of specialisation also requires a highly specialized workforce. This can lead to hidden costs as employee training to perform intricate specialised work can be expensive and hiring highly skilled labour can also come at a premium. 

You are also more exposed to market fluctuations in your industry. 

Maybe the solution is Symbiosis.  

If you have ever spent any amount of time on a game farm you might have come across a herd of Zebra and Wildebeest chilling together. 

These animals have figured out how to work together, making the most of their various specialised skills. 

Wildebeest have great hearing and a keen sense of smell. But they really can’t see very well. Zebra on the other hand have brilliant eyesight, even though they have poor hearing. This is a perfect combo for spotting all their joint natural predators. 

Add to this the fact that these animals, both grazers, chose different types of grass to live off, and it’s a match made in heaven.  

Constructing symbiosis. 

We don’t know what exactly the symbiosis between building contractors would look like, but if you are a pool installation guy, why not invite a deck builder into your herd?  

For more on this topic, Forbes has taken a deep dive into the benefits of growing your herd. 

Read more interesting business improvement ideas here.