Good Thinking – 8 – Build Your T-Shaped Skills

T-shaped Skills

Years ago, I read The Wellspring of Knowledge (Dorothy Leonard-Barton, 1995), and was influenced by her description of T-shaped skills.

The vertical part of the T denotes the deep knowledge we have about our job. The horizontal part of the T denotes the other skills we need in order to connect with others in the workforce and society.

Look at your skill set. Are you a generalist who needs a specialty to build upon? Are you a specialist who needs broader skills in order to interact with more of the organization?

Society needs people with good T-shaped skills. Experts who can’t talk with others in their organization are useless. Generalists with no area of expertise will soon be replaced by early artificial intelligence apps.

It’s the crossbar of the T that keeps you connected. List those areas in which you need enough knowledge to converses with people outside your department. (Personal confession: ignorance of finance hurt my early career.)

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