What is a T-Shaped Strategist?
A T-shaped strategist is a person who has a deep understanding of a specific field, but also has a broad understanding of other fields. This allows them to think strategically about how to solve problems and create opportunities. For example, I’m a specialist in search and social marketing but I have a broad understanding of other marketing fields like Broad Reach marketing fields and PR. Therefore, I’m difficult to fit into a box because everything I do is to try and demonstrate that the box should be broken.
The term “T-shaped” comes from the idea that a person’s knowledge and skills can be represented by a T, with the vertical bar representing their depth of knowledge in a single field and the horizontal bar representing their breadth of knowledge across multiple fields.
Becoming a T-Shaped Strategist
T-shaped strategists are often sought-after by businesses because they can help them to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems. They are also able to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds and disciplines. I often use the analogy of a ‘marketing translator’ – the ability to communicate a creative idea with data analysts and translate data into something appealing.
If you are interested in becoming a T-shaped strategist, there are a few things you can do:
- Develop your deep understanding of a specific field. This could involve taking courses, reading books and articles, or working in a related field.
- Broaden your knowledge of other fields. This could involve taking courses, reading books and articles, or working in a related field.
- Develop your communication skills. This could involve taking courses, reading books and articles, or working with a communication coach.
- Develop your problem-solving skills. This could involve taking courses, reading books and articles, or working in a related field.
- Develop your creativity. This could involve taking courses, reading books and articles, or working in a related field.
By developing these skills, you can become a T-shaped strategist who is able to think strategically and solve problems in a creative way. Problem solving is a critical phase in marketing. That means asking a barrage of questions and trying to get into the real weeds of a problem. When you understand the problem, a T-Shaped strategist will be able to come up with a solution.
On a personal note, I always get a rush of blood to the head when I hear about a new problem. First, I’m scared – I don’t understand the problem, is this something new and amazing I’ve never heard of???
No. As I talk through the problem it becomes clear. Talking around the problem I start to understand what they are really asking, that’s not a negative, it takes time and it can feel uncomfortable, but you have to get through that discomfort because when you do you will find the answer. Never forget that! If you are a T-Shaped strategist you WILL find the answer, have confidence in yourself.
Not sure you’re a T-Shaped Strategist
Answer this: “Hi I’m Andy. I have a blog. I want to double the traffic to the blog in two weeks. What can you do?”
If your answer was, “WTF sort of problem is that?” then you’re on the right track.
The answer might come in 10 questions time – Why do you want to double your traffic? What will it get you? Don’t you pay for traffic on your hosting package? Are you trying to make money from the blog? Do you want to sell advertising? Are you selling a service? Where do you currently get visitors? But there’s no guarantees. You have to press the questions until you have a strong, clear understanding of what the person wants.
If these are the questions you are asking then you are definitely on the right track. These questions start to get to the route of what the person is really asking. And remember, it should be assumed that the person asking for help actually knows what they want.
So if you ask questions you are on the right track. Stay honest with your deep specialism, you need to know how to use it when required but also as a T-Shaped Strategist you know when not to use it and use something else.
I talk about marketing strategy at events and I do training for corporate marketing teams. Get in contact if you’d like to discuss more.