Golden Hammer

Nov 22 / Network Capital
For an individual with a hammer, everything is a nail. People with niche area specific knowledge, or unique expertise have a propensity of looking at all issues with that one idea that they are proficient in.

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There is a popular phrase, ‘for someone with a hammer, everything is a nail’. This one sentence is the core essence of the Golden Hammer principle. As we academically or professionally specialize in a particular skill or area, we increasingly tend to apply that skill to all aspects of our understanding. We thereby loose our ability to look at an issue from a different perspective.

For a cardiologist, most medical ailments lead to the heart. For a python expert, all data analysis is python. For an African studies researcher, all issues are about race and geography. Therefore, at the individual level, the Golden Hammer leads to a lopsided and limited understanding of different events. At the group level is perpetuates complacency and decreases creativity.

According to the World Economic Forum 2019 Future of Work report, the decade will see a rise in appreciation of inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary work. The Golden Hammer will then become a major barrier to professional growth. To mitigate the negative impact, we should
(a) constantly work to learn new and changing skills
(b) work at the inter-sections of things.