You've probably heard the derogatory saying "Jack of all trades, master of none." It implies that by trying to learn many things, you give up mastery of any of them. Quora designer David Cole says this is a myth.
"Learning isn't a zero-sum activity," Cole writes:
The central counter-argument here is that any learning comes with opportunity cost. Learning Python might very well take up time that you would otherwise use for studying, say, product management. This is true, in theory. But in practice, most designers I know, including myself prior to joining Quora, are not learning at their maximum rate. I have spent much of my career solving the same design problems over and over again with no substantive personal growth to show for it. I don't think my situation is unique.
But even if you were learning at your maximum rate, the opportunity cost argument actually works in favour of the multi-disciplinary approach. Design and its component practices are like any other craft: you can always develop a deeper familiarity with the minutiae, asymptotically approaching mastery. But this is a process with diminishing returns. Would you rather carve a door 1% better than you did last year, or learn how to build the rest of the house in the same amount of time? As I argue below, the connective tissue between these skills may actually be more valuable than incremental gains in a single practice.
We've discussed previously how knowing a little of everything can often be better than having one expert skill set. If you're not convinced yet, Cole's many arguments further support the view that you can be a generalist or take a multi-disciplinary approach and still do great work.