Are you becoming more T-shaped?
Going back a few years, when technology was evolving at a slower pace, people had their job roles and more or less stuck with them. You could become a master of your trade and claim yourself as an expert in that particular field. People, in the main, adopted ‘I’ shaped roles; a single narrow field of expertise with very little opportunity to cross-pollinate.
Fast forward to 2018, and things have changed a lot.
New Technology, new job roles
Technology is evolving faster than ever, with new requirements being born every day and alongside that are new job roles to suit those requirements.
When web-based design started championing print, User Experience became a thing, and design had to become more specific. The role of a graphic designer has been split into UX/UI/interaction/product design while keeping front-end capabilities in mind.
This new age of product creation has spawned a whole new list of job titles in which people can specialise, which is exactly what some people have done. Of course, there are still the unicorns, the all-rounders, the multi-disciplinarians who have the ability to see a product through from start to finish. From the big idea and brand identity through to the user experience, user interface, interaction animations and sometimes even the front-end development.
Some might argue that the old saying “jack of all trades, and master of none” still has a ring of truth to it, and they are not wrong. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a person who has a skill, having put in the requisite 10 000 hours, thereby earning the right to consider themselves knowledgeable in that area.
However, being T-shaped (having breadth as well as a depth of knowledge) and therefore being cross-disciplinary, makes you a very attractive candidate. Businesses who are trying keep up with the ever-changing world we live in, maintain a low-cost base and keep operations lean need skilled individuals but they also need ‘fixers’ who can apply their knowledge to many different challenges.
Maybe the solution is to have your area of expertise and own it, craft it and live it, but being able to stretch yourself into new areas. To blur the lines a little. To be more T-shaped. You’ll gain a bird’s eye view on the bigger picture and this not only helps you grow as a person and a professional but also means you’ll collaborate with and have empathy for people in other fields. Whether that person is a business development professional who puts together a beautiful sales deck to help sell the product or a UX designer who can design with backend development in mind. Being able to understand the other links in the chain is what makes working together easier and results in an overall better product.
Tell us what you think
What’s your view? Are the lines blurring in your chosen profession? Are you becoming more ‘T’ shaped? And is it a positive choice you have made to give yourself additional versatility in the employment market - or an essential quality for everyone in the future of work? We’d love to hear what you think.