Cross-functional teams are in demand of T-shaped profiles. At the same time they provide an accelerated path towards becoming a T-shaped profile. The fast changing world we live in, requires adaptive creatures to deal with this changing environment. Developing a T-shaped profile allows you to stay on top and makes you more adaptive.

A short recap on the T-shaped profile.

The T-shape refers to the visual representation of the skill set of a person. The vertical part of the T refers to the expertise acquired in a certain field. In other words, this is the set of skills in which you excel. The horizontal part of the T refers to the knowledge and skills outside of your own expertise. Profiles combining both horizontal and vertical skills are considered as T-shaped profiles or generalizing specialists.

Most of us are still evolving from an I-shaped or dash-shaped profile towards a T-shaped profile. Tough some already predict the need for pi-shaped, E-shaped and even hashtag-shaped profiles, having deep expertise in multiple fields.  :)

Why cross-functional teams need T-shaped profiles?

If each of the needed specializations is represented in a team, the team can be considered as a cross-functional team. Each team member takes up the work related to this specialization.  This works as long as the overall workload, the type of work and the team composition are a constant. Unfortunately change is the constant, thus most likely none of these three factors remain stable over time. That is the exact reason why a cross-functional team needs T-shaped profiles. In a team of generalizing specialists, where every team member is equally responsible for the end result, there is no individual workload. T-shaped profiles take up tasks outside of their expertise and make themselves useful where they are needed the most. A team of T-shaped profiles thrives, even in fast changing environments.

Why cross-functional teams create T-shaped profiles?

Where working in a cross-functional team requires team members to be T-shaped, it also makes them more T-shaped. In the ideal cross  functional team everyone is equally committed to reach the agreed upon end result.  This results in team members taking up tasks outside of their specialization when a colleague is in need of help or absent. When teams mature they weapon themselves against changes in workload, changes in type of work and changes in team composition, to deliver the agreed upon result. This results in; team members working in pairs on certain tasks, documenting important processes, having whiteboard sessions involving the entire team,…  All of these self emerging behaviors result in knowledge and expertise being shared withing the team.  As a result, creating cross functional teams where everyone is equally committed, results in team member becoming more T-shaped.

Join a cross-functional team and become more T-shaped!

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