Versatilist Communities

It seems that we are living in more and more chaotic times.  The weather is unprecedentedly unpredictable, the banking systems seem to be failing and Europe is in an economic crisis as capitalism and the western economic model struggles to support its citizens to have a fulfilling and rich life that it promises.

Is it time to rethink? Are we becoming over dependent on technology to run our lives, and unwittingly using technology to rigidly embed economic and trade models into our society that require human interaction to remain adaptable and flexible?

As a practicing Agilist, a working practice that focuses on people, connections and individual deep specialism, in the software industry and outside, it strikes me that we are in danger of losing the deep specialism that is required for versatilist creativity.  As we become more and more connected through technology are we loosing the ability to think and behave in a deeply specialist way?

What do I mean? As I write this blog I am sitting on a train travelling from Birmingham to London; my first thought being to launch my browser and surf the internet for inspiration – it so easy!  But I became aware that, even though broadband connectivity is a few clicks away, I would be denying myself the opportunity for some deeper thought before connecting; inspiration, I realise, comes from the inside.

Our manifesto says that Versatilists:

Are deep specialists and broadly connected.

Both depth and connection are import – in the 80s and 90s specialism was the dominate model and skill, but if we are not careful, connection will be the dominate skill in the first part of the millennium, but without depth, and we may end up in an equally dire situation!

So, although we have said the versatilism is about individuals, I wonder if it is more than that, I wonder if it is about communities, and building versatilist communities.  Communities where the sum behaviours are versatilist, even if the individuals in the community don’t exhibit all of the versatilist characteristics, the community as a whole behaves in a versatilist way – the community is more than the sum of the individuals within.

And there are communities that operate like this already in society. One of my family members was recently acutely ill and had a short stay in hospital – on leaving the hospital I was in awe of the social structures and roles that were in place that maintained specialism and connection – a versatilist community!

In each area (a specialising community) there was interaction between the consultant, registrar, specialist, generalist and homecare nurses.  There are layers of specialist medicine, each layer itself a versatilist community.  This community of people maintained deep specialism through the consultant role, whilst maintaining a connection in the community: the patient, the hospital and pharmacy, through the nursing role.  Together, with well-defined social structures and role the hospital environment, or culture, creates versatilist communities – embracing both the deep knowledge and broad connection to deliver outstanding healthcare.

What had the most impact on me, and the reason I want to share this blog with you, was the realisation the Versatilism is not just about technology or individuals, it is also about a community.

A community that embraces the values of deep knowledge and broad connection will display the characteristics of versatilism as a whole.

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