Ross Hagan

Community Focused Cultivation

March 11, 2019

Key Takeaways

The first part of a series of articles, I'm hoping by the end of this part you'll leave knowing:

  • What Community Focused Cultivation is
  • How to define a vision
  • The importance of decoupling your journey from a specific role.

What is Community Focused Cultivation?

A fluid set of techniques to help you define and realise your goals, and also to aid others in doing the same for their career. Ultimately resulting in a net positive change in the world.

What is Community Focused Cultivation solving?

It can be a struggle to define our goals in life and how to get there. The dedication and motivation it takes can be hard to sustain with an inward focus like "I want to learn X skill". The overarching theme here will be to focus ourselves and others on community responsibility and the behaviour that will help that community realise their goals. We often use accountability as a way of motivating ourselves through harder times and habit changes, here we build accountability up to responsibility. You are taking ownership of effecting this change in the world.

Inspired by ...

The original inspiration for this concept is mixed. In part, it is grounded in advice given to those living with mental health issues. As you reach a point of feeling better, there's often advice to shift your focus towards others and supporting others. This led me to wonder how we might apply that advice to career goals and cultivating ourselves and others.

Community Focused Cultivation also borrows heavily from consultancy concepts - like Lean Value Tree - as well as software engineering, such as Evolutionary Architecture's characteristics and fitness functions. We'll pull these in as we progress in a series of articles.

The purpose of this article is to help you know how to reach a community focused vision for yourself or others.

Defining your future vision

One of the hardest things to do can be advising yourself. Yet if we take some of the strategies we use in our day to day work and apply them to our career goals we might well find a clearer, easier path or at least a more sustainable one. Combine this with a community focus and we start to get a much clearer feel for what we will bring to the world and the impact that realising our vision will have.

In a Lean Value Tree we'd start with a vision. So we're going to ground this in reality. What follows is more or less what I've done for my own goals. We start at a simple vision:

Vision: I want to be a data engineer

OK... so that's a start. Maybe not a great start though. As a vision we've already arrived at a solution - being a data engineer. What does this person you're going to be do? How are you going to apply being a data engineer? Let's give this another go:

Vision: I want to be a data engineer in healthcare.

OK, we've pulled out a domain - healthcare. We're still quite non-specific though. What kind of healthcare? What will data engineering facilitate? Let's skip ahead then:

Vision: The healthcare community can benefit from people who are able to coordinate and process large volumes of data to predict illness and support clinical decisions.

Alright, this is looking much better. We've lost the role title - but does this matter? Should we be aiming for a job title? This new vision focuses on a couple of key things:

  • The need: ability to predict illness and support clinical decisions.
  • The behaviour that supports that need: coordinating and processing large volumes of data.

There are many more behaviours to unpack but let's keep it simple for now because we don't really know what we don't know yet - figuring that out comes next.

Taking this approach actually gives us the opportunity to break away from data engineering as a role and lets us consider other possibilities that might deliver the same value. Perhaps there's a role there that doesn't exist yet at all? When we drive ourselves by job title or archetype (doctor, lawyer, and so on) we narrow our window of opportunity. Creating a whole new role that doesn't yet exist is probably the best way for us to reach individual satisfaction, which will of course feed back into an overall better community mood, as well as keeping us disciplined and motivated towards that goal.

Hopefully by this point we're starting to see the value in shifting away from our inward focus and breaking away from existing role definitions. These all narrow our view of the world and limit the potential contribution we can make. They can hamper our progress as we feel dissatisfied with not reaching that title and the ambiguity in what that title means can go unacknowledged. Discarding the labels, as is so often the case, opens us up to an experience that can deliver even more significant and substantial meaning to others and to ourselves.

In The Next Article

This has been just an initial step, in the next article we'll look at how we break down our vision, flesh it out, and define the behaviours and characteristics that community needs.