By Steve Outing
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cross-disciplinary teams and how the diverse skill-sets and knowledge that they possess can be combined to effectively work together to solve the news industry’s serious problems and challenges.
By adactio, via Flickr, CC license
At this week’s Boulder Digital Works workshop, there was talk of the same sort of challenge in the ad-agency world, where traditional “creatives” and account managers and producers increasingly have to work in cross-disciplinary teams with digital technologists and social media experts. In a big project with many dimensions — from print and TV to the latest digital and mobile applications — other specialists, such as SEO/SEM, might be brought in for part of the project as necessary. They all must work together and communicate well, even though they may speak different “languages.”
In the agency world, team members all need to be “T” people, where the base of the T for each person indicates deep knowledge and skill on a specific area, while the horizontal top of the T indicates an understanding of the complementary areas represented by other team members. It’s the top of the T of each person that makes it possible for a diverse team to work together and accomplish something because they can understand and appreciate each others’ skills.
The same concept should be applied to solving the news industry’s problems. We need teams with multiple “T-people,” where each vertical skill is deep for an individual, but does not define the complete person. Teams of “T’s” will be the ones inventing the news of the future.