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A versatilist is someone who can be a specialist for a particular discipline, while at the same time be able to change to another role with the same ease.[citation needed]

The term "versatilist" was used in a 2005 article from Gartner, where it states that "Versatilists are able to apply a depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations and experiences, equally at ease with technical issues as with business strategy."[1] A 2006 article by George Hayward mentioned versatilist in the Industrial Safety and Health Network publication "FDO" (For Distributors Only).[2] George Hayward wrote articles for the publication from 1997. He died in 2009.[3]

It is to the advantage of an organization to employ versatilists—because an enterprise will be able to easily redeploy this type of employee based on changes in business requirements or strategy.

To illustrate this using a mathematical concept, the versatilist has a higher area under the curve rating. Think of a person having some level of knowledge/experience in 15 knowledge areas. That person may have a very high competency (score 5) in 3 areas, a medium level of competency (score 3) in 5 areas an introductory level of competency (score 1) in 4 areas and no competency (score 0) in 3 areas. This creates an area under the curve of 34. This is different from a specialist who may score very high in one area and have no competency in others. This is also different from a generalist who may score a 1 or 3 in every area.[citation needed]

This breadth of knowledge and experience is what enables faster changes to other roles.[citation needed]

Also known as[edit]

  • Generalizing Specialist[4]
  • Technical Craftsperson
  • Renaissance Developer
  • T-shaped person: See The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley
  • Master Generalist

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gartner Says Technical Aptitude No Longer Enough To Secure Future for IT Professionals, Gartner Press Release, 9 November 2005.
  2. ^ "Versatilist" appeared in ISHN "FDO" October 2006 Article by George J. Hayward, continuing on from the theme of my previous article, "The (Safety) World is (not yet) Flat", ISHN "FDO", August 2006.
  3. ^ "Everyone's Partner in Safety, George Hayward, dies at 67 (5/4)".
  4. ^ Generalizing Specialists - Improving Your IT Skills

Further reading[edit]