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Whether We Go Big or Deep First Depends on Our Archetype
—Jonathan Mead (@jonathanmead) July 10, 2013
This one doesn't have a straightforward answer. Before I jump right in, though, it'd probably be good to catch you up on some other discussions we've been having that are relevant to this one. In 2010, I gave a presentation called Go Big or Go Home — Or Go Deep that gave a third alternative for thought leaders to the "Go Big or Go Home" mantra — they can instead choose to go deep and harvest treasures that the skimmers don't. Last year, I wrote Maven, Connector, or Salesperson: What's Your Archetype?; the key idea there is that we're divided into affinities based on ideas, people, or influence.
With those ideas in place, I can answer the question more fully:
Mavens tend to go deep and stay deep before they go big, if they ever think of going big. "Bigness" is instrumentally valuable to them — and you don't need a lot of bigness to go deep.
Salespeople tend to go big and get bigger before they go deep. "Deepness", to them, is only instrumentally valuable — and you don't need a lot of depth to go big.
Connectors can go either way but usually accidentally go big because their network is carrying them. Their going deep is usually out of serving unmet needs from the people who keep coming to them rather than them doing it because they love it on their own.
The statements above are about observed tendencies rather than necessities. The context of people's histories, intentions, and strengths fill out the rest.
And, of course, no one way is better than others and having both in the right measure for you and your tribe is the way to go. It's exciting when someone who's been going deep goes big, and it's surprising when someone who's gone big has depth.
Knowing the two dynamics of change is handy, too — tipping is on the side of going big, stepping on the side of going deep. If you stay big too long, it's easy to lose your core; if you stay deep for too long, it's easy for the people on the surface to move on to someone who's meeting them where they are.
Yes, I could have just replied "It depends," but that wouldn't make me much of a maven, now would it?