Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just call me "Mr. T"

"There’s a seduction to being an expert, an assumption in society that credibility relies on deep (and narrow) expertise. However, for people operating at the edges, interesections, and overlaps where innovation thrives, being a generalist is far more powerful." bplusd: On being a generalist

Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo, writing in Fast Company, had the following to say about putting design at the heart of your organization's storytelling:

Organizations need to take design thinking seriously. We need to spend more time making people conscious of design thinking -- not because design is wondrous or magical, but simply because by focusing on it, we'll make it better. And that's an imperative for any business, because design thinking is indisputably a catalyst for innovation productivity. That is, it can increase the rate at which you generate good ideas and bring them to market.

Brought to You by the Letter he more real you make the story for yourselves (he recommends using rapid prototyping), the easier it is for everyone to stay on the same page. ...And what kind of people does he look to get into his organization to make the stories real?

T-Shaped People

Tea Set, by Rob Ireton

Mr. Brown goes on:

We look for 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.
Rollin' in the Fog

One Letter / The world is so broad now, and the interactions between things so complex and unpredictable, being too specialized can slow your forward progress. When putting together productive, innovative teams, finding the most effective blend of individual strengths and propensities, while ensuring that they elemental skills native to the domain are present is the challenge. Not quite brain surgery (more like writing a symphony, in my experience), but I believe it may be the most important managerial skill for an entrepreneur to develop.

Mr. T Wants You!

As an aside: I've noticed that people use "Brain Surgery" and "Rocket Science" interchangeably as metaphor for things that are too complex to understand, but I tend to see them as two ends of a continuum. Brain surgery is more of an art: we really don't know how the brain works exactly, and math doesn't help you that much. In contrast, rocket science is largely newtonian, and rewards proficiency with math. I recognize this is a gross oversimplification, but I suppose that's the point of the metaphor.

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