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Are You Ready to Form Voltron? On The Value of ‘T-shaped’ People

9th June 10

Posted by Ben Malbon

Posted in Uncategorized

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This week is Internet Week in New York.

On Tuesday, Boulder Digital Works (I’m lucky enough to be on the Advisory Board there) hosted an evening at the Art Director’s Club called ‘Evolve!’ at which they launched their neat new website (created by Modernista!) – take a look at: http://bdw.colorado.edu/, it’s very cool. There were a number of short presentations from some BDW board members, including Scott Witt (just recently moved to a new role as Creative Director at Apple), Shane Steele (just recently moved to be be VP Global B2B Marketing at Yahoo!) & Scott Prindle, Technical Director at CPB in Boulder. I tagged along and got my ten minute slot.

I thought I’d use it to highlight why we need places like Boulder Digital Works in the first place. In short, to produce a new breed of hybrid creative; what we call ‘T-shaped people’ – awesome in (at least) one area, plus highly collaborative and at least literate in many other things. So blending both the right skills and the right attitude. Far too often the latter – an appetite for all things open and collaborative, a readiness to leave ego at the door  - is sacrificed at the expense (frequently, the *great* expense) of simply importing people with new skills.

In addition to sketching out why these hybrid people are so important in creating new forms of creative product, I briefly touch upon the importance of the hd sex agency implementing the right kind of ’operating system’ (the processes, values and culture within a company) if the fancy new ’software’ is going to run smoothly. If the operating system is outdated, even the most impressive software is redundant. I show, in one slide, an overview of how BBH in New York is approaching the re-engineering of it’s OS.

Would love to know what you think, and what your experiences are of finding, working with, managing and retaining T-shaped people. The future surely belongs to them.

For best viewing view on slideshare (this link takes you right there), where you can see embedded film & speaker notes; I have added the latter into the first comment there.

Are You Ready to Form Voltron? (June 2010)

View more presentations from Ben Malbon.
Footnote: Coincidentally, Mattel announced this week that Voltron is going to be relaunched, with a new TV series and toy line planned. Here’s the opening of Voltron, which gives newbies a little background.
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4 comments on “Are You Ready to Form Voltron? On The Value of ‘T-shaped’ People”

  1. [...] look for T-shaped people when hiring. In other words, talent that’s got a specific area of awesomeness, but stretches [...]

  2. [...] on their organic contributions to an agency output. We love that, and in fact look for T-shaped individuals when [...]

  3. [...] apply to complex, digitally centric, problems (Ben Malbon captures this nicely in the concept of the T-Shaped person), and enables us to make smarter decisions at all stages of our work as strategy [...]

  4. [...] apply to complex, digitally centric, problems (Ben Malbon captures this nicely in the concept of the T-Shaped person), and enables us to make smarter decisions at all stages of our work as strategy [...]

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