T instead of I.
The type of skilled professionals required by companies is changing in a
way that is not sufficient — and sometimes even useless — if you are “only”
a specialist in one specific skill.
You might be asking why the word “only” is quoted. Have you ever heard
of the T-shaped skills model?
Tim Brown of IDEO popularized the term “T-shaped” that describes people
who have depth of skill and experience in one discipline, represented by the vertical stroke, while also having breadth via skills and experience across other disciplines, represented by the horizontal stroke.
He argued that the latter provided empathy for other disciplines and, in turn, fostered greater collaboration.
The mind is like an umbrella. It’s most useful when is open.
Let’s take for an example Lisa: she is a UX designer with a visual design background. Her skills are huge in graphic design an illustration, she can go deep on visuals and create really beautiful interfaces because of her past experience — here is the “I” in the “T” shape.
But she isn’t just a graphic designer anymore, she is trying to transition to digital design. That seems to be a perfectly natural transition, but it is not that natural.
She can’t be only an “I” anymore.
There’s been a lot of talk in the past few years about lifelong learning: the idea that in the 21st-century economy, technology and the way we work changes so quickly that you’re never going to catch up. As a result, you constantly need to learn new things.*
To make this move she’ll need to open that umbrella.
Lisa will need to understand a little bit of coding and a little bit of data visualization too — basic coding skills are fine.
But added to that she will have conversations with the growth and marketing heads about numbers — metrics understanding right there.
And guess who will present the new features designed as results of user tests and research to the board? — people and communication skills are a must-have.
See, is not that natural move. On the other hand, it is extremely possible
Lisa’s career now is being a problem-solver. She has to understand all that involves the problem itself, not only be focused on the specific matter of designing clean interfaces and neat interactions.
How to do it?
Study. Create. Connect. Learn.
Research. Understand. Learn.
Rebuild. Grow. Learn.
This idea was running for some time in my mind, but the inspiration to write about it and the second quote are from this article written by Patrick Stafford: https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/skills-arent-enough/