Are you Π (pi) shaped?

There is a wind of change going on in the enterprise, and it impacts you, what you know and how you work.

When I first joined the labour force, I was in charge of the server running website. I had a degree in Computer Engineering, so obviously I was the right the choice to keep the site going, ensuring the software was healthy and rebooting the machine when it wasn’t. I was seen as an “I” shaped person – someone with a deep knowledge of a specific target.

Two years later I was running the entire Digital team. My technology skills very still an asset, but a broad understanding of all things digital, from customer experience to graphic design, copywriting and performance management were given equal weight. In fact, my core are of interest had begun to shift from technology to User Experience, then a new Digital capability at the crossroads of design, front end development and applied psychology. I was a new T shaped man – someone with a deep skill-set on an area but a broad working understanding of a wide capability set.

Pi ΠMy early T shape served me well, but it is no longer enough. Digital is now at the centre of the business world, and Digital leaders must continue to develop in order to lead in their new mission to digitally transform businesses from the inside. The time has come to become Π shaped. A Π-shaped person has a broad skill-set across the entire Business value chain, not just in core Digital areas but across the entire organisational fabric. And has deep, detailed knowledge in both left brain and right brain disciplines. The concept of disciplines is important, as Π-shaped are no longer defined by having a finite number of detailed areas of expertise, but instead are expected to be experts at a good number of them. What makes the Π-shaped is the fact that these areas of expertise lie both ways of the brain divide, spanning technical, business and behavioural disciplines.

As an eternally curious individual I have managed the transition to a Π shape successfully. I encourage you to have the same attitude and travel the same journey. Today’s business requires leaders that are knowledgeable, malleable and experts in many areas. Today’s business leaders are Π-shaped.

This post was inspired in part by an article by Ashley Friedlein for Marketing Week

Leave a Reply