From the CEO: Going deep or going wide?

AME | April 30, 2021


Members of the lean, continuous improvement community are always seeking knowledge. It is not uncommon to participate in a conversation about the books that got you started on your lean journey and what you are reading now. Or to come across someone sharing a training course, YouTube video, article, or white paper with their network. This is the share, learn and grow attitude that AME seeks to empower in each member of our community.

With so many tools, principles, systems and niches in the lean, continuous improvement world, you might question whether it is better to go deep or go wide? Are you better off learning a lot about one topic or learning a little about a lot of topics?

On the one hand, going deep into one topic allows you to work toward mastery. Consuming all the knowledge you can on a specific topic will give you the ability to help your organization solve even the most complex problems related to that topic.

On the other hand, going wide allows you to see the big picture, to understand where to apply tool A vs. tool B, and to recognize where other solutions may exist. A wide breadth of knowledge allows you to also meet your colleagues where they are and to understand their ideas.

At AME we believe it is not an either/or question. Going deep and going wide are both important.

Developing mastery can be powerful. The know-how that you bring to a situation can help you and your organization overcome issues, but as Abraham Maslow — most famous for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

You need several tools in your toolbelt — even if you are not an expert with each of them. Having even the most basic knowledge on several tools and principles can help you see all sides and several potential solutions to obstacles you might face.

At AME, we purposely develop content that will help you learn a little about a lot and take a deep dive. When you want to dip your toe in the water, we have free offerings like the upcoming strategic workforce analysis session on May 11, our weekly lean coffee breaks, and the just-announced 2 Second Lean virtual tour series with Paul Akers. But we also offer deep dive opportunities like our lean boot camp (May 7 & 14) and lean agile seminar (May 10).

To wrap this together, our annual conference programming is designed to give you access to a broad number of vital topics while delivering in-depth learning opportunities on those topics. You get the best of both worlds. Now that we’ve pivoted to a virtual format for 2021, you can bring this opportunity right to your workplace. And because you’ll have six months of on-demand streaming access to most conference content, you’ll be able to revisit the sessions, tours and keynotes to help you continue on your journey towards mastery or give yourself a taste of all the topics covered during the three-day event.

As you pursue operational excellence, pursue the knowledge that inspires you, but don’t ignore the topics that can help you look at things from a new perspective. Take a deep dive into the former, but be sure to learn at least a little about as many nuances and niches that lean offers.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.