Wednesday, January 24, 2007

T-shaped people: skill for our times

T-shaped people perhaps get first mention, as per Wordspy back in 1991, when David Guest wrote in The Independent:

… a ''hybrid'' manager who would combine business expertise with IT skills. The hybrid manager… would be distinguished by his or her ability to relate to ''the broad picture'' and to people, understanding their motivation and aspirations; he or she would also be energetic, intuitive, a good listener, and (cryptically) would have ''an unusual set of interests.

This type of rounded personality is also sought in other branches of the same theory, which prizes individuals known as T-shaped People.

Most importantly,
These are a variation on Renaissance Man, equally comfortable with information systems, modern management techniques and the 12-tone scale.

Moving on, the T-shaped people idea got a big boost from the influential design firm IDEO, who began promoting the idea in their search for great designers.

Tim Brown, head of IDEO writes in Fast Company:
We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they're willing to try to do what you do. We call them "T-shaped people." They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T -- they're mechanical engineers or industrial designers. But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need. That's what you're after at this point -- patterns that yield ideas.

LG Economic Research Institute in Korea points that the reason why Korean companies have failed ‘to create such iconic devices as Apple Computer's iPod or Motorola's RAZR despite their technological prowess’ is that Korean tech companies lack ``T-shaped people ‘.

Maybe this is why despite skilled coders in hundreds of thousands, India does not have a big software breakthrough product till now.

Some places the world needs more T-shaped people:

We need T-shaped people in:
- Government
- India
- Indian IT industry, which is creativity-challenged, despite the coding shops of Wipro, Infosys, TCS and others.
- T-shaped CEOs, scientists, politicians, town planners.
- T-shaped teachers.
- T-shape training in our colleges and Universities.

P.S.: Of late, Google has been known to be looking for people with varied backgrounds and experiences in unrelated fields.


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