I was at the ProductTank World Product Day meetup on Wednesday where there was some talk of what the T-shaped Product Manager might look like. No doubt most folk are familiar with the T-shaped concept by now, but for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t, the main thrust is this:
In a given role (typically within the knowledge industry) you can expect to have some core skill set that runs deep, either because of some advanced qualifications, skills, or just lots of experience doing the same kind of work and possibly also within the same domain. This depth of knowledge or skills represents the vertical on the T.
Usually what people who advocate the T-shaped model are proposing is that there is some benefit to the organisation, the team or to you personally in widening your skill base by complementing depth with some additional breadth of skills and or knowledge that might equally benefit your team or business and further, may combine with the existing depth to provide a whole new slant or emergent property.
I certainly don’t have any problem with that. The only issue I do have with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t just apply to a particular role, industry or type of person. It’s not a product manager, tester, developer, analyst or other knowledge worker tool. It’s a life tool. It’s something that anyone and everyone can aspire to. As such, the tools that can brought to bear in order to achieve this goal (the widening of the T) are pretty generic and can be applied by anyone.
I’ve written or presented about some of my preferred tools for doing so in the past. Since many of the articles are difficult to reach these days without searching specifically for them, I’ve listed my favourites below:
- Using knowlege investment plans to achieve a specific learning goal: http://sjpknight.com/how-do-i-become-an-automated-tester/
- Leveraging the power of systems (habits) to achieve learning or other goals: http://sjpknight.com/systems-not-goals/
- Using roleplay and gamification to support development of skills in specific areas: http://sjpknight.com/super-tester/
- Presentation on tools and techniques for managing and accelerating learning: http://sjpknight.com/tools-for-learning/
- I wrote about some of the horizontals of a testing specialist some time ago. Probably you could take all seven “skills” and apply them equally to product management and indeed life, as I mentioned above: http://sjpknight.com/7-things-awesome-testers-do-that-dont-look-like-testing/