On Friday I was scrolling through some of my old posts and came across the following, which I posted August 2, 2016 titled “Are you an I or a T “. It jumped out at me as I had a discussion about this concept recently with a friend and mentor. As I reread the post it struck me that I needed to repost it.
No this is not about your Myers-Briggs or DISC personality profile.
I was recently included in an e-mail discussion (started by Lou Hayes) with a group of people who are way smarter than I am. In the discussion the term Neo-Generalist came up. I admit I had to look it up before I could comment. That search led me to this website https://indalogenesis.com/the-neo-generalist/. That site promotes the soon to be released book The Neo- Generalist by Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin. A couple of things jumped out at me as I read about the book.
From the back cover:
“During an era still dominated by hyperspecialism and experts with ‘the one right answer’, the neo-generalist defies easy classification. They are tricksters who traverse multiple domains, living between categories and labels. Encompassing rather than rejecting, the neo-generalist is both specialist and generalist. A restless multidisciplinarian, who is forever learning. They bring together diverse people, synthesising ideas and practice, addressing the big issues that confront us in order to shape a better future.
They are curious, responsive, connective.”
From the Preface:
“Our workplaces, governments, intelligence agencies and other communities and institutions constantly complain of silos, but that is an inevitable consequence of our promotion of hyperspecialism. So too the myopia of expertise that prevents us from seeing properly what is right in front of us, or connecting it in meaningful ways with other information, other people.”
During the e-mail thread Patrick Van Horne, the co-author of the must read book Left of Bang, offered a link to the blog post To Succeed in Work and Life Be Mr. T (make time to read the post) on The Art of Manliness website to help me better understand the concept of the neo-generalist.
In that great post the author states:
“A T-shaped man has two characteristics. First, he has a depth of knowledge and a focused expertise in one skill or discipline. This characteristic is represented by the vertical stroke of the T. Second, he has an interest in and a willingness to use a broad range of skills and disciplines outside his area of expertise. This characteristic is represented by the horizontal stroke of the T. A T-shaped man is, in short, a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of one.”
The author shares 3 benefits of being T shaped:
- You’ll be ready for jobs of the future.
- You’ll gain new insights about your area of expertise.
- Life becomes more interesting.
He goes on to list 5 keys to becoming a Mr. T:
- Gain Mastery in one skill.
- Remain curious.
- Read broadly.
- Actively dabble.
- Increase empathy.
This all got me thinking about the training world. What I see is a number of people who represent the I, or the vertical stroke on the T. They have expertise just in their area. They live comfortably in their Silo and are not really interested in the other areas of training. They believe their area is the “most important element of training” and are uninterested in learning about other areas, cross training with other areas or expanding their learning or outside their area of expertise, or outside law enforcement.
There are a few trainers who represent the horizontal stroke on the T. They know a little bit about a variety of topics but have no depth or expertise in any of those areas.
There are other trainers (men and women) who are the Mr. and Ms.Ts of the training world. They have an area of expertise and they read and study broadly and deeply looking outside their area and the world of law enforcement for ideas and insights to both deepen that expertise and expand the horizontal stroke of the T. They seek to learn about the other areas of training to determine how they can best support them, reinforce those other messages and connect the dots for the men and women they train. They are continually curious and like to ask questions that will help them learn, grow and understand. They seek to break down the silos and enhance the learning experience for everyone.
I consider myself a work in progress as I strive to become a T. I am continually working to develop the horizontal stroke of the T by reading, listening to podcasts, watching webinars, asking questions and by conducting interviews with experts across numerous domains for the Excellence in Training Academy (and now the ILEETA Learning Lab). At the same time I work to deepen my knowledge and understanding of training and how to both be a better trainer myself and how to help other trainers grow from good to great.
Three questions for you:
- Are you predominately an I, or a T?
- What are you doing to deepen the vertical stroke of the T?
- What are you doing to develop the horizontal stroke of the T?
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