Specialization Narrows Our Perspective on What Is Salient to a Problem

Problem-solving involves identifying the salient features of a problem. This is a subjective activity; different thinkers will identify different matters of salience.

Specialization narrows our perspective on what is salient. It biases us toward certain mental models and thinking tools. We focus on those aspects of the problem that are we are best trained to recognize and deal with.

When faced with challenges, we often turn to specialists for their finely honed expertise. But when encountering particularly wicked problem domains, a specialist may actually be the worst suited to the task: their specialization undermines their ability to consider the problem holistically.



Martin, Roger L. The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking. 1st edition. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press, 2007.