If you follow the latest in business thinking, you would have come across the popular – or should I say “populist” – Design Thinking (DT) movement. You might have even heard of IDEO. They are the company that turned the rather loose notion of business as “art” into a profitable consulting model. You’ve probably heard of so called “T-shaped thinkers”. According to Tim Brown and others at IDEO, T-shaped thinkers are the new Da Vincis. They master both the ability to think broadly and deeply. They are generalists and specialists at the same time.
The beauty of simple models, like IDEO’s T-shaped thinkers is they are simple to convey and remember. Their marketing power is undeniable, and they serve the consulting model superbly. But the drawback is they are often too simplistic to be accurate. In fact, I say the T-shaped thinker model is quite poor in capturing the generalist-specialist dichotomy.