There is this silly concept from human resources about looking for T shaped people. These are people that have wide thin layer of knowledge coupled with a deep specialized knowledge in a specific subject area.

All snarkiness aside, I can see why this would be valuable. It provides a lot of organizational flexibility and an ability to effectively cross pollinate ideas that lead to organizational improvement.

It is even possible that the breadth of knowledge helps people avoid the blind spots that sometimes afflict experts.

It would be nice if information had these same properties. The ability to go deep and across is powerful. It seems that the human mind works best in one mode or the other at one time.

It seems that information is processed in much the same. It seems like there must be some method or order to it.

Of course, putting it in order makes the information useful to others that have been taught to think in that same way.

But is the way that we have been taught to think always the best way to solve a problem.

By virtue of speed and the ability to stay focused, algorithms can burrow around information in a myriad of ways. But it is basically following pathways that we created for it. The rules and instructions are really products of what we created for it.

Up, down, left, right, back, forth are pretty much the directions that we look in, but the truly meaningful stuff can’t be found looking in those limited dimensions.

As with T-Shaped people, T-shaped information offers compelling benefits, but is probably still insufficient for mining the most value.

Categories: Data