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Businesses are putting increased focus on finding the right talent for their future challenges. A journey were most companies need to make a big leap. Starting from a combination of generalists and experts as the human backbone for their business. As the business complexity goes up and the need for innovation increase companies face a new reality. One where diverse teams with new competence profiles play a central role. And were you as an professional need to evolve to stay relevant.
What is T, π and #-shaped competence
Five main profiles can summarize the competence and experience profile of professionals:
- – Shaped, a generalist profile who now a little about everything but without deep skills in an area. Think professionals who often make large lateral moves between job areas.
- I – Shaped, having deep expertize in a narrow field of work. Think PhDs and gurus in your company.
- T- Shaped, a professional with deep technical or commercial competence. Combined with broad social and analytical capabilities.
- π – Shaped, a professional with both technical and commercial expertize and the above. or the capability to execute current and build new business at the same time.
- # – Shaped, true unicorns and the rock stars any organization need to stay competitive.
The three latter categories are what forward looking companies look for. You need them when staffing diverse innovative teams.
Step up your game towards a T-Shaped Competence profile
The room for – Shaped generalists is shrinking fast. If this profile is your starting point you need to consider developing an expertize area that will be relevant in the future. Good news is there is many niches of future expertize that will be relevant. The difficult job is to pick the best one for you.
The I-Shaped specialists have often been groomed in silos. If you have been working a long time in the same field you are likely in this category. Especially if you consider your interfaces to adjacent organizations as stable. You have an easier journey than your – shaped colleagues. But you need to focus on how to create value with/through others rather than with own efforts.
The capabilities you should aim for is a T-shaped profile with one or several of the following:
- A broad understanding of the market you operate in
- A holistic view of how customers’ situation and their needs
- Understanding of which questions to ask to understand how a given market/customer is unique from its peers.
- Detailed knowledge about business enablers. Such as technologies, distribution channels, business models and marketing- & sales process.
The biggest challenge you are likely to see when moving from I-shape to T-shape will be your ability to collaborate. where focus is on with experts in fields outside your own. In a market environment with high vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Expect a larger share of your work to be in grey zones rather than in crisp and clear colors.
Longer term goal of π- and #-shaped competence profile
The role of T-Shaped competence profile has grown in importance in innovation centric operations. Either in start-ups or in innovation departments of larger companies. But the T-Shape is now becoming a staple across lean organizations. And two new profiles represent the new targets for professionals with high career ambitions.
The π-Shaped competence profile refers to professionals who enjoy multiple expert status. Someone that excel in both the field of product development and sales. An excellent marketing professional with deep commercial skills. What make you qualify into this profile is how deep your skills are in different areas. Just having worked in varied areas is not enough. You have to match specialists in each area.
The #-Shaped competence profile is less defined. To me it is about a multi-layered broad capability. Your ability to work in different cultures, rather than a single market. Your experience from different industries, rather than a single industry or eco-system. And perhaps the most valuable capability. Your ability to influence across a chain of former silos to drive change and adaptability to new markets
Good questions to ask yourself
- What is my current competence profile – mapped to one of the 5 main types.
- Which areas represent my most valuable expertize assets – you need at least one are of deep expertize.
- Which new areas of expertize do my current business need the most – On the job training is the fastest way to grow new so focus on what you have within reach.
- How far down the development curve should I aim – set a high but realistic ambitions.
- Who could be my mentor to develop the profile I am for next – Learning from the best is not to cheat.
Additional reading suggestions
- The rise of the T-shaped organization [BLOGPOST] – by Irwing Wladawsky-Berger, Wall Street Journal
- Shape up for innovation: become more T-shaped [BLOGPOST] – by Inovis
- Why agile teams want T-Shaped people [BLOGPOST] – by Nicholas Muldoon, Velocity Counts
- T-shaped skills in every area of your life [BLOGPOST] – by Agile Lean Life
- From T to Pi; Design skill expectations in change [BLOGPOST] – by Ville Tervo, Futurice
- E-shaped people, not T-shaped [BLOGPOST] – by JD Meier, Microsoft