Recently I’ve been challenged to consider the value of people really good at the tasks within their box versus the athletes that can conquer challenges across a broad range of topics. Specifically I’ve been asked to consider whether I would want to work within a box myself.
There is value to being within a box. Having a set home and approach to projects makes it much easier to sell and complete work because more can be automated and preset. It is also much easier to train the next generation that will come through because they only have to learn a limited set of tasks and assignments. And just because you are in an assigned box doesn’t mean that you still can’t go crazy occasionally and completely go outside that box for projects and answers.
The other side of the equation is that being in a box sets a path for you toward a future. You now have chosen a course and must stick to it for at least awhile. It is the end of the free wheeling days where you could work on anything that comes in the doors. Although to be honest if enough other people in a team are assigned to boxes then there is less work for general athletes anyway because the work starts falling to the preset teams.
I value athletes that don’t want to live within a box. I value employees that do not want to be simply told what to do. The value that you get from being involved in a wide variety of opportunities gives you more chances to make random connections between future solutions and opportunities. It also means that growth will continue on an accelerated pace.
It’s hard to find good athletes. Most people are not comfortable with undefined roles. But it is my preference and the best people I have ever worked with hold the same belief.