Value creation in today’s rapidly shifting technology and market landscape calls for interdisciplinary people.
This makes sense if we consider the business climate that we face today (and most likely tomorrow). New technologies are arriving at an exponentially increasing rate. Each new technology changes what is possible. And each evolution of possibility brings threats and opportunities that have literally never been seen before. It is increasingly becoming obvious that it is impossible to develop an expertise today in what will matter tomorrow. It’s not that expertise is not important…it’s just not enough!
Whether you want to develop yourself as T-shaped, I-shaped or E-shaped (or even invent your own letter) at least one of the required pillars seems to be the development of broad and diverse experiences. But what does this mean? If experiencing something simply meant encountering it, then why identify it as a point of development? Broad-mindedness would just be a numbers game where the oldest wins. The actual skill these theories promote is the ability to let an encounter affect and change you.
According to Dr. C Otto Scharma, the reason this is difficult is that we have a blind spot. During most encounters with the new our default position we see only what we perceive as relevant based on our prior understanding. This mental position is not necessarily negative, in fact this ability to selectively evaluate and prioritize information has always been essential to our survival – we wouldn’t have remained long on this planet if we hadn’t learned to recognize safe food or the sound of approaching danger. But our species is less differentiated by our ability to survive than our ability to change and invent. So somehow we do (occasionally) manage to see and recognize the unknown. So how do we do it?
One essential (if not the most important) part of this adaptation ability is our tendency to socialise. Few of us wander through life, ignoring those around us (even if we sometimes pretend to). No, when we are around other people long enough we tend to engage them to some degree. We observe, listen, judge, talk or tell. And through this social habit we expose ourselves to the possibility of encountering their points of view –and so other priorities that can reinforce or contradict our own.
So surround yourself with people outside your bubble, outside your skillset, outside your reality…and get to know them! Each one is a door to a more interdisciplinary you.