Scrolling through my podcast library on the weekend I spotted episode 70 of The Knowledge Project with Scott Adams (yes the creator of Dilbert) that I felt compelled to listen to.  Apart from being curious about how the mind of a satirical genius works, I was hoping he would talk about skill stacking – which he did.

I’ve recently introduced the concept of skill stacking (aka talent stacking) to my work, particularly in professional development mentoring.  I came across it a couple of months ago and read in several articles that the concept originated with Adams.  Unless he “adapted” it from someone else it appears that he shared it in his 2014 book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

In a world where job changes and career switches are more frequent, where stretch tasks are often project-based and opportunities arise through networks rather than formal hierarchies, skills are replacing roles as the basis for a career.  One of the clearest explanations I’ve found of how skill stacking works and why it’s a great way to distinguish yourself is in the article How to Become the Best In the World at Something by Tomas Pyeuo.  In a nutshell, it’s easier to be in the top 10% for a range of skills than to be the very best in the world in one skill.   It’s about having a variety of skill that work well together.  Your specific combination of well-developed skills allows you to offer unique value.

Skill Stack

Source: Tomas Pueyo

In the podcast Adams speaks about his skill stack – a combination of drawing and writing alongside business skills, strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and a good sense of humour.  All of which, in combination, has commercial value.

I am hosting a webinar on 13 December 2019 called Make 2020 Your Best Year Ever – Take Charge of Your Professional Development.  I have included an activity to help people identify their current skill stack and skills they may want to add to it.  Here is the link for more information on this webinar and to register.

Adams covered a lot more topics in this podcast interview, which I will listen to again to extract more from the discussion.


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