In 2011, Matt Cutts gave a TED talk called: Try Something New for 30 Days. In it, he speaks to a way of setting and achieving goals: doing something new for 30 days. But the catch is that at the end of 30 days, Cutts moves on to something new.
When I think of my goals, they fall into two categories: habit building and one-offs. Habit building is the source of many people’s New Year’s Resolutions: to learn a new language, or play an instrument, you need to build a habit that will lead to months or years of practice. The one-offs are things to do a single time: climb Mt Kilimanjaro, or go parasailing. Cutts brings up the idea of a third thing: doing something just enough to learn if you like it.
30 days to try a job skill
At Verily we have something called a “rotation.” Google calls them “boomerangs.” When you do a rotation (or a boomerang), you try out a new job for a month or two. It gives people a break from the day-to-day, and provides greater insight into other roles at the company. In some cases it may precipitate a career change. In others, it’s just a way to learn something new. Matt Cutts’ talk reminded me of this approach. What if we all took a chance to learn something new for 30 days?
In content strategy that might mean approaching a different part of the Content Strategy Quad. A UX Writer might delve into metadata. A taxonomist might take on a role requiring them to build out user journeys.
Specialists or generalists
It’s impossible to excel at every area of content strategy – it’s simply too broad of a field. Personally, I think of myself as a generalist. Being a generalist is important for someone overseeing a team, because I need to be able to speak to all four areas of the Content Strategy Quad. But that means accepting that I will never be a specialist in any one area, keeping up with all the details of that type of work.
Perhaps there’s a way for a specialist to take a break though, and explore other areas. Perhaps a generalist can dive more deeply into one area with Cutts’ idea – we can all try something new for 30 days.
If you had the opportunity, would you take it? What type of content strategy work would you try?