When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland argues that mechanistic processes, artificial dichotomies and the urge to compartmentalise are alien to creative activity

One thing that often surprises people is my adoration of Ronald Reagan. Part of my admiration is simply for his breadth – he was somewhere on the scale between ‘pretty good’ and ‘great’ at about eight different things: actor, baseball commentator, radio announcer, television star, letter writer, comedian, governor, president.

That suggests someone far more unusual in statistical terms than people who are simply good at one thing. After all, by definition, if you take any one talent there will be someone who is better at it than anyone else. Things only get interesting in terms of probability when that someone is good at something else as well. Astonishingly there are 12 people who have played for England at both cricket and soccer.