Monday, April 16, 2007

You better become T-Shaped

The Internet has come a long way: In the beginning were badly designed sites. They were replaced by visually exhilarating sites that scored no points in the usability category. Then designers discovered Flash and the whole game changed again. But all of this is coming to an end.

We're in the middle of a real revolution: We are about to combine rational and emotional benefits in order to create compelling experiences that users find useful, usable and engaging. And who will lead the revolution? T-shaped people.

Tim Brown, founder of Ideo describes it more precisely:

“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”.

What does it mean to all of us in the marketing world? The days of being a specialist are over. T-Shaped people have a core competency, but they can easily branch out. T-Shaped means being curious, empathetic and always questioning the Status Quo.

Look at your own team/company: Do you have employees that worked in different areas of expertise? This is very common in the advertising world. Look at my resume: Station Manager for TWA/United, Speech Pathologist, Law Degree, Copywriter, Creative Director, VP Marketing, Interactive Strategy. Sheesh, how did I fit all this into the last few years????
Look closely at employees who have experienced different mediums. Are they willing to put themselves in the shoes of others and throw pre-conceived notions out the window? Do they like to experience new things on an ongoing basis? Do they leave their comfort zones whenever they can? Do they make you uncomfortable or nervous once in a while? Do they question everything? You might have a T-Shaped person on your staff. Time to nurture them.

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