Agility – Narrow and Deep, or Shallow and Wide?

I’m finding I need a new discipline in both my active (contact) and passive (reading / watching) networking as we start the first tentative steps out of local lockdown. The challenge is that there is far more out there, people and content, that interests me than I can do justice to.

There are times, particularly when I’ve encountered a new subject or idea, when I need to go shallow and wide; to gather lots of different information and perspectives as I work out my own position on it, and the contribution I want to make. After that, I need to go narrow and deep to get into the weeds of the subject so that I can make a hopefully original contribution that adds to the subject.

Oscillating between the two is a challenge. Interesting people and ideas turn up without appointment when I’m diving into something, and I have to work out what to do. To ignore them seems rude, and yet to stop what I’m doing to pay proper attention to them is a distraction.

I’m finding the answer is to share them. Introduce them to others who might be interested in them and who can move them forward at a time when I have to choose not to. Despite my best efforts, there’s always a sense of low level reluctance. What if this is a better option that the one I’ve chosen? The quiet, selfish nagging voice is a route to procrastination. Over time, I’ve got used to the idea that I don’t own ideas, and that It is my job to give them the best chance of succeeding that I can.

Which took me to Agility. One of those current mantras that is easy to adopt without really questioning why. I see companies (and people) at the moment, at a time of increased uncertainty, using agiity as an excuse for procrastination (as well as feeling the temptation myself) to make a “persevere or pivot” decision way too early, and to use agility as pain relief when the going gets tough. To divert to the easy and pleasurable shallow and wide where there are lots of options, but where it is difficult to make waves.

I find myself asking this question of myself “Which of these choices, if it succeeds, will have the biggest impact in the long term”?

Short term gratification is always tempting, but it is the hard yards to the long term impact, through the swamp of difficulty, disappointment and failures that makes the difference, on those things that we value that makes a real difference.

Real agility is hard. I think it involves fewer, harder, decisions involving sacrifice of something that we could pursue, but have to choose not to, in order to do something of real value. it involves, I believe, giving things away that we could do if we chose.

None of the work I see on agility seems to mention generosity. It seems a shame,

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