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T-shaped professionals, T-shaped skills, hybrid managers

The science, management and engineering of service systems is associated with a call for T-shaped people. The most recent emphasis is on T-shaped professionals, which was preceded by T-shaped skills, with linkages back to a 1990 study on hybrid managers. Some insight can be gained by working backwards through the nuanced terms.

The 2008 Cambridge (IfM and IBM) report issues a challenge to universities for developing skills, and then seeks to enlist support from business and government.

Developing T-shaped professionals
Discipline-based education remains a vital role of modern universities. In order to close the skill gap, however, universities should also offer students the opportunity to gain qualifications in the interdisciplinary requirements of SSME. Such qualifications would equip graduates with the concepts and vocabulary to discuss the design and improvement of service systems with peers from other disciplines. Industry refers to these people as T-shaped professionals, who are deep problem solvers in their home discipline but also capable of interacting with and understanding specialists from a wide range of disciplines and functional areas.

Widely recognised SSME programmes would help ensure the availability of a large population of T-shaped professionals (from many home disciplines) with the ability to collaborate to create service innovations. SSME qualifications would indicate that these graduates could communicate with scientists, engineers, managers, designers, and many others involved in service systems. Graduates with SSME qualifications would be well prepared to ‘hit the ground running’, able to become immediately productive and make significant contributions when joining a service innovation project.

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The science, management and engineering of service systems is associated with a call for T-shaped people. The most recent emphasis is on T-shaped professionals, which was preceded by T-shaped skills, with linkages back to a 1990 study on hybrid managers. Some insight can be gained by working backwards through the nuanced terms.

The 2008 Cambridge (IfM and IBM) report issues a challenge to universities for developing skills, and then seeks to enlist support from business and government.

Developing T-shaped professionals
Discipline-based education remains a vital role of modern universities. In order to close the skill gap, however, universities should also offer students the opportunity to gain qualifications in the interdisciplinary requirements of SSME. Such qualifications would equip graduates with the concepts and vocabulary to discuss the design and improvement of service systems with peers from other disciplines. Industry refers to these people as T-shaped professionals, who are deep problem solvers in their home discipline but also capable of interacting with and understanding specialists from a wide range of disciplines and functional areas.

Widely recognised SSME programmes would help ensure the availability of a large population of T-shaped professionals (from many home disciplines) with the ability to collaborate to create service innovations. SSME qualifications would indicate that these graduates could communicate with scientists, engineers, managers, designers, and many others involved in service systems. Graduates with SSME qualifications would be well prepared to ‘hit the ground running’, able to become immediately productive and make significant contributions when joining a service innovation project.

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    • 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings
      Social Systems Science graduate students in 1970s-1980s with #RussellAckoff, #EricTrist + #HasanOzbehkhan at U. Pennsylvania Wharton School were assigned the Penguin paperback #SystemsThinking reader edited by #FredEEmery, with updated editions evolving contents.
    • 1968 Buckley, “Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist: A Sourcebook”
      Resurfacing 1968 Buckley, “Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist: A Sourcebook” for interests in #SystemsThinking #SocioCybernetics #GeneralSystemsTheory #OrganizationScience . Republication in 2017 hardcopy may be more complete.
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      Proponents of #SystemsThinking often espouse holism to counter over-emphasis on reductionism. Reading some definitions from an encyclopedia positions one in the context of the other (François 2004).
    • It matters (word use)
      Saying “it doesn’t matter” or “it matters” is a common expression in everyday English. For scholarly work, I want to “keep using that word“, while ensuring it means what I want it to mean. The Oxford English Dictionary (third edition, March 2001) has three entries for “matter”. The first two entries for a noun. The […]
    • Systemic Change, Systematic Change, Systems Change (Reynolds, 2011)
      It's been challenging to find sources that specifically define two-word phrases -- i.e. "systemic change", "systematic change", "systems change" -- as opposed to loosely inferring reductively from one-word definitions in recombination. MartinReynolds @OpenUniversity clarifies uses of the phrases, with a critical eye into motives for choosing a specific label, as well as associated risks and […]
    • Environmental c.f. ecological (Francois, 2004; Allen, Giampietro Little 2003)
      The term "environmental" can be mixed up with "ecological", when the meanings are different. We can look at the encyclopedia definitions (François 2004), and then compare the two in terms of applied science (i.e. engineering with (#TimothyFHAllen @MarioGiampietro and #AmandaMLittle, 2003).
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