Jack of all trades, master of none

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This saying has equivalents in almost all the world’s languages and is almost always speaks ironically about the generalist figure versus the expert one. According to the Koreans, “the man of many talents, has no supper”, and in Holland they say, “12 trades, 13 accidents”. This is probably due to civilisations evolving throughout the centuries towards an increasing specialisation in trades. Whilst in primitive tribes, (or in the case of Robinson Crusoe), each individual must know everything in order to survive, in industrial societies tasks are divided and the fruits of labour exchanged.

However, in the current world, changes are accelerating and excessive specialisation is perceived as a risky strategy. Whoever mended typewriters has been left without a job, those who hired video films have disappeared, whoever gambled their savings on one sole financial product, have lost it all. From there we get the other saying of “putting all your eggs in the same basket”.

The dilemma between diversification and specialisation also appears in the world of leisure, with different strategies according to market maturity. In a country with few leisure choices, one sole project usually encompasses many different alternatives, (bowling alleys, slides, mechanical attractions, karts, etc.), whilst in mature markets, the installations specialise and differentiate in order to compete in specific niches. Each one tries to be the best at something.

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As can be seen, there are sayings for everyone’s tastes. So there is no magic spell, no generic response to the dichotomy between being a generalist or an expert. However it is important to reflect on it, before defining the content of a leisure project.