Arguably there are many ways to categorize or label people – hard working, lazy, morning person, night owl, smart, wise, whatever else you can think of. Here are my thoughts on categorizing yourself in terms of your role in the idea generation and realization process – are you a miner or a polisher?
The Diamond Analogy
Here’s my analogy to the process: some people are diamond miners. They go in search of the raw materials – they go hunting for diamonds. It’s one thing to know where diamonds are; it’s a whole different step to go find them, build a mine, and retrieve them. You need people who have the foresight and determination to find the diamonds, and extract them. But raw diamonds by themselves are very hard to sell. They are usually within a larger rock, dirty and lack the lustrous shine that makes them so attractive.
The second role you need is a polisher. Someone who takes a raw diamond and turns it into a work of art. They see the gorgeous diamond contained within the rough exterior, and have the expertise and insight to extract it.
The miner has little value if he can’t turn the diamonds into a finished product with the help of the polisher. The polisher has little value if he doesn’t have raw diamonds to work with. The two pieces of the puzzle are relatively worthless on their own, but together they can create one of the most valuable and sought after products on the planet.
Where Do You Fit In?
So, the question to ask you is: am I a diamond miner or am I a polisher? Miners are the ones who go looking for ideas. They seek them out, implement them, and start building something. They get their hands dirty (literally) in the process, because they enjoy starting, doing something tangible, and moving forward. Polishers are the ones who can take existing ideas, and tweak them – they make sure the end user will actually understand the process and enjoy the product. They turn an otherwise bland stone into a work of art. They turn a rough idea into a polished one. They might not have as much material difference, but their tweaks and changes are just as valuable – they turn a good product into a great one.
I ask this question for a basic reason: to help you think about which role you fit into. It would be chaotic if the polisher – whose expertise is in refining diamonds and creating the finished product – tried his hand at mining. Likewise, it would be chaos if the miner tried his hand at polishing. I am a firm believer that focusing on one of these two roles will help you better establish your skill set and expertise. By deciding on role that best fits your skills, preferences and personal enjoyment, you will be better able to add value to a specific point on the product lifecycle, rather than adding very little value across the entire life cycle.
Blair Livingston’s Blog