Yesterday I shared some ideas about how more people are having (and possibly will have) maximalist careers, building an array of diverse skills. We can also look at this phenomenon with some analogies. Most careers are seen as staircases, or ‘ladders’. The direction is ‘up’. So our resumes and LinkedIn are designed to show the linear, upward movement. In this analogy, going ‘down’ is a disaster and going ‘sideways’ is something fraught with danger. This way of thinking always gives you the comfort of knowing where to go. In this world, you might become CEO after you have been the CTO, but the other way round is not common.
Whereas the analogy of maximalist careers would be that of a playground. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg prefers the analogy of the Jungle Gym, but I think a playground is a better analogy. There is no movement ‘up’, or ‘down’. It’s flat and non-linear. You can go from anywhere to anywhere, and while you can see the present in absolute clarity, the future is fuzzy. You are motivated by curiosity, you cannot predict where the curiosity will lead you next. The path is not visible, but it bothers you less, because you are here to play.
Playgrounds are also about teams. You care about whom you are playing with, and know that if the team isn’t to your liking, you better move on to the next game.
As I mentioned before, we currently seem to lack an interface where we could express our movement across this playground. I have some more ideas about it, and would share them as they develop in time.