People work in different ways. Everybody knows that.
But here is an interesting difference.
Some people are foxes.
Others are hedgehogs.
The original very old line about this is “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” It’s from the Greek writer Archilochus and it’s one of a handful of sentences we have of his.
OK, so what the heck does it mean?
Foxes do a lot of things. They move between topics making contributions. But maybe they seem impatient about going really deep.
Hedgehogs plug away at big complex projects. Maybe they don’t switch gears as smoothly as change is required.
Look around your office. People everywhere have strong inclinations one way or another. Even you. Know how you work is a huge step to working more effectively for your own style. Check out this famous writer Italo Calvino worrying over it —
“I am a fox, even though I dream of being a hedgehog in all my dreams, and even though I try to write hedgehog books if you take each of them one by one.” (via Brain Pickings)
The most awesome statement on this comes from the Oxford philosopher Isaiah Berlin by the way, here. Check out Nate Silver talking about it too, on his freelance agenda in Big Data land and their fox logo. Or a much more detailed context piece on Slate that tells you about the band Luna and other old school fans of the foxy and hedgehoggy.
For now, just know thyself. Fox or hedgehog, which are you?
Knotable is a tool for foxes and for hedgehogs — they each require different settings. More next time.