The only thing consistent about today’s highly driven business world is that it is not consistent. Technology is replacing human beings faster than you can say “artificial intelligence.” Digital technology is constantly changing the workspace in amazing new ways. Increasing globalism has made it more likely that we will talk to someone in Saudi Arabia before lunchtime than we will the guy down the hall at the office - that is, for organizations that still have an office, given the fact that increasing numbers of company employees are working from home. With these always-increasing changes in the organizational environment, a new kind of business consultant is needed, one that is multifaceted and able to not only “think outside the box,” as the saying goes, but is willing to turn the box inside out if needed! Into this vacuum steps the polymath.
So what is a polymath, you ask? “Polymath” is a 17th-century Greek word used to describe people who have a whole lot of diverse knowledge spread over many different domains. Visionaries throughout history - from the mystic Nostradamus to the modern tech giant Bill Gates - have been considered to be polymaths. American founding father Thomas Jefferson, with his extensive knowledge in areas like astronomy, politics, botany, zoology, philosophy, and architecture. Leonardo da Vinci, with his wide ranging interests from art to geology and even cartography (That’s map-making, in case you were wondering) was one. But polymaths are not limited to historical figures. Many of today’s most successful entrepreneurs - think Elon Musk and Bill Gates - are polymaths. It’s a well-known fact that polymaths make great entrepreneurs. The self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and best-selling author Michael Simmons describes the polymath as “someone who becomes competent in at least three diverse domains and integrates them into a top one-percent skill set.”
There’s no doubt that consultants play a key role for businesses. They assist in many different areas, from Marketing to Management - and everything in-between. They offer help with issues ranging from clarifying a business’ strategic planning process to helping to solve different personnel issues. Business consultants help organizations to save time and money in myriad ways.
Traditionally, businesses have tended to gravitate towards more specialized professionals when utilizing business consultants - such as Business Coaches or Corporate Psychologists - when utilizing business consulting services. But these types of professionals can be limited by the narrowness of their scope - narrow, at least, when compared to the more wide-ranging abilities and far-seeing vision of the polymath. Yes, specialization is important - but why not hire a consultant with specialization in multiple areas?
Following are just a few areas in which polymaths have an advantage over more traditional business consultants.
They are great problem solvers
When problem-solving, polymaths can draw from their huge stores of accumulated knowledge to solve a particular problem. Again, regular business consultants, on the other hand, can be limited by their more specialized experience and education.
They tend to be more flexible
As business strategist (and Polymath-extraordinare) Anapum Kundu pointed out, the companies of today need more adaptive “shape-shifter” staff and employees, as he terms it, due to the unpredictable nature of the current business environment. And only polymaths can metamorphosize fast enough to keep pace with today’s high-growth businesses and the fast-paced environment they thrive in.
They tend to be successful
According to Michael Simmons, people who have “too many interests” -like polymaths - tend to be more successful at everything they do. Simmons points out that, in one study, 15 of 20 of the most significant scientists in all of history were found to be polymaths. We’re talking illustrious minds like Galileo, Descartes, Aristotle… and the list goes on. Wouldn’t you like someone of such brilliance setting their mind to improving your business?
They are often “multipotentialites”
Business psychologist Barbara Kerr defines multipotentialites as people who can develop and work in a number of career fields because of their wide variety of interests and aptitudes. When it comes to hiring a business consultant, would you prefer to hire a professional who is limited to being, for example, “only” a business analys? Or would you rather have someone who can fit the role of a business analyst, but can also help to come up with a great marketing plan? A Polymath is versatile enough to fulfill the roles of several consultants at once.
In the final analysis, there’s no doubt there are many choices when it comes to hiring a consultant for your high-growth business. But in today’s fast-paced and constantly-changing business world, there’s little to no room for error. If you are seeking a creative mind who can perform a wide range of consultant-related duties, why should you settle for less than the best? Hire a polymath. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
Author: Kellie Stewart is an entrepreneur, consultant and equinologist. Kellie has more than 20 years of professional consulting in the leadership domain