Wednesday, February 11, 2015

IDEO: T-Shaped Creativity

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, actively recruits people who have T-shaped skills. A T-shaped skills set is when you have a depth of knowledge in one discipline, say engineering, and a breadth of interest and experience with other disciplines such as art and history. The reason why this is valued in the workplace is T-shaped skill sets catalyze creativity--the exposure to new ideas, perspectives and expertise in the horizontal band act as a source of inspiration for solving problems in your domain of expertise.

For example, when solving a noise problem associated with the bullet train moving through a tunnel, a Japanese designer found inspiration from his interest in bird watching. In particular, the train designer copied the beak shape of the Kingfisher bird to re-design the nose of the bullet train. This innovation solved the noise problems and had an added benefit--it increase the energy efficiency of the train by 15%. If you want to hear more about Tim Brown's thoughts on T-shaped skills sets and effective work cultures check out this interview.