The adage is to always hire people who are smarter than you. This adage is true, but not for the obvious reasons. Of course smart people know a lot and can therefore accomplish more than others less gifted. But hire them not for the knowledge they possess, but for the things they don’t yet know. Intelligence is the best indicator of a person’s ability to handle change.
Most people, when they are hiring for a role, look for people who have excelled in that role before. If the job is for chief widget designer, it’s a given that high on the list will be five to ten years of widget design and a degree from Widget U.
Favoring specialization over intelligence is exactly wrong, especially in high tech. A specialist brings an inherent bias to solving problems that spawns from the very expertise that is his putative advantage, and may be threatened by a new type of solution that requires new expertise. A smart generalist doesn’t have this bias, so is free to survey the wide range of solutions and gravitate to the best one.
— Eric Schmidt, “How Google Works”