ArticlePDF Available

The “T” shaped designer expertise. The “reverse-T” shaped designer horizon.

Authors:

Abstract

A “T” shaped conceptual representation of designer’s expertise is well known and adopted; it has a horizontal knowledge of close professions and a vertical knowledge of design processes. A “reverse-T” novel model is introduced, indexing horizontally the broad horizon of design professional’s workplaces and vertically the progressive rise of design professionals inside institutions hierarchies. The aim is to propose an effective model capable of distil different aspects of the design phenomena.
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rfdj20
Download by: [154.16.58.221] Date: 09 September 2017, At: 10:04
The Design Journal
An International Journal for All Aspects of Design
ISSN: 1460-6925 (Print) 1756-3062 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rfdj20
The “T” shaped designer expertise. The “reverse-T”
shaped designer horizon.
Daniele Baratta
To cite this article: Daniele Baratta (2017) The “T” shaped designer expertise. The
“reverse-T” shaped designer horizon., The Design Journal, 20:sup1, S4784-S4786, DOI:
10.1080/14606925.2017.1352992
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14606925.2017.1352992
© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa
UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis
Group
Published online: 06 Sep 2017.
Submit your article to this journal
Article views: 1
View related articles
View Crossmark data
Design for Next
12th EAD Conference
Sapienza University of Rome
12-14 April 2017
doi: 10.1080/14606925.2017.1352992
© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under
the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The “T” shaped designer expertise.
The “reverse-T” shaped designer horizon.
Daniele Barattaa*
aArchitecture department, University of Bologna
*Corresponding author email: daniele.baratta6@unibo.it
Abstract: A “T” shaped conceptual representation of designer’s expertise is well
known and adopted; it has a horizontal knowledge of close professions and a
vertical knowledge of design processes. A “reverse-T” novel model is introduced,
indexing horizontally the broad horizon of design professional’s workplaces and
vertically the progressive rise of design professionals inside institutions hierarchies.
The aim is to propose an effective model capable of distil different aspects of the
design phenomena.
Keywords: T- shaped expertise, designer expertise, designer horizon
1. “T” shaped designer expertise
T-shaped design professionals are who employers search for. Tim Brown borrowed the term “t-
shaped” from IT and business environments and applied it to the design community (Leonard-
Barton, 1995 and Guest, 1991), progressively it has become the mantra of current academic
institutions, especially in the design field. Its a simple concept, to use Tervo V. (2015) incisive words,
as designers we should: “be great at this one thing (the vertical stroke of the T) and familiar with all
the other (The horizontal stroke of the T).” The model is so effective that it has eventually become
the subject of a series of conferences called “T-summit” (for more information http://tsummit.org/t)
, stating the need of T-shaped professionals in a more and more challenging work context. The poster
with its detailed infographic, updates the T-model with emerging design disciplines, classified in four
areas: strategy, visual, artefact and space. The twelve design disciplines that intersect these areas
are:
Strategic Design
Policy Design
Service Design
Experience Design
Interaction Design
Graphic Design
Industrial Design
Engineering Design
Fashion Design
Interior Design
S4784
Downloaded by [154.16.58.221] at 10:04 09 September 2017
DANIELE BARATTA
Spatial Design
Landscape Design
Every design discipline requires mastering a process, slightly different from one discipline to another,
a depth that includes the following phases, usually carried on in this order:
Problem setting
Brief
Research
Concept
Prototype
Valuation
Specifications
Development
Executives
Delivery
2. “Reverse-T” shaped designer expertise
On the other hand a novel concept of “reverse-T” model is introduced, aimed to map, again through
infographic, the multitude of novel horizons that design professionals are exploring. Designers are
more and more perceived and employed as strategy and management consultants (the Danish
Design Centre, 2003 ) and engaged in decision making processes (Neumeyer, 2009). A representation
of this trend is depicted in the vertical stroke of the “reverse-T” map, as a rising of design
professionals in the institutions hierarchy. This rising reveals designers employed in different
functions, from bottom to top:
Communication
Product development
Service design
Experience design
Brand management
Operational processes
Strategy
Organizational structure
Business model
Leadership
Furthermore in the last decade we can observe designers working in a wide range of contexts, from
private to public sector. Their mindset and problem-solving attitude has shown to be a key factor in
social innovation processes, start-up successes, makers community, policy making and ultimately
“wicked problems” tackling. The diffusion of design practice in our society is as horizontal as its
representation in the “Reverse-T” model. This includes the following contexts:
Public Administrations
NGOs
S4785
Downloaded by [154.16.58.221] at 10:04 09 September 2017
The “T” shaped designer expertise. The “reverse-T” shaped designer horizon.
Non-profit organizations
Research institutions
Consulting companies
Start-up
SMEs
Multinationals
Corporations
Spin-off
Technology transfer hubs
Fablabs
Therefore this work aims to underline a parallel
between designer expertise “T-model” and
designer horizon “reverse-T” model, attempting
to provide an incisive interpretation of Design
in next society.
References
Brown, T (2009). On being T-shaped.
http://www.core77.com/hack2work/2009/0
9/on_being_tshaped.asp
Danish Design Centre (2003). The design ladder.
http://ddc.dk/wp-
content/uploads/2015/05/Design-
Ladder_en.pdf
Guest, D. (1991). The hunt is on for the
Renaissance Man of computing. The
Independent (London), September 17.
Leonard-Barton, D. (1995). Wellsprings of
Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the
Sources of Innovation. Harvard Business
School Press.
Neumeier, M. (2009). The Designful Company:
How to build a culture of non-stop
innovation. Peachpit Press.
Tervo, V. (2015). From T to Pi: design skill
expectations in change.
http://futurice.com/blog/from-t-to-pi-
design-skill-expectations-in-change
T-summit events information:
http://tsummit.org/t
S4786
Downloaded by [154.16.58.221] at 10:04 09 September 2017
... De acuerdo con Steve Mann (Bataille, 2013), hoy en día se requieren profesionales capacitados en forma de árbol. Su propuesta parte del esquema de David Guest, quien proponía profesionales en forma de T (Baratta, 2017). Ésta, se refiere a que los profesionales actuales deberían tener conocimiento de distintas áreas para colaborar de forma multidisciplinar -representado por la barra horizontal de la T -(figura DIDÁCTICA EN EL DISEÑO | CAPÍTULO 2 2), y al mismo tiempo tener un conocimiento y expertise profundo sobre una disciplina en particular como el diseño -representado por la barra vertical de la T. En cambio, una forma de árbol, promueve el desarrollo en distintas áreas disciplinares -que son las ramas del árbol -, y también expertise en distintas direcciones, que son las raíces del árbol. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Este capítulo presenta resultados de investigación sobre prácticas actuales del diseño, que están perdiendo su materialidad. Con esto nos referimos a que en vez de que el proceso de diseño genere como producto artefactos tangibles, como objetos, imágenes o espacios, se ha reconocido como valor su capacidad de dar resultados en forma de sistemas, estrategias y experiencias. Así, los discursos sobre el diseño que una vez debatían entre la forma y la función, entre proceso y producto, dejaron de ser dicotómicos para ahora enfocarse en aspectos multifactoriales, entretejidos y sistémicos. El objetivo principal de la investigación fue identificar prácticas del diseño para-disciplinares que muestren un proceso de diseño no necesariamente direccionado al desarrollo de objetos, imágenes o espacios, para revisar sus características particulares e identificar planteamientos teóricos, prácticas, métodos y procesos, que han ocasionado la erosión de la materialidad en el diseño. El método de estudio fue principalmente documental, a partir de la revisión de artículos publicados en bases de datos, principalmente en revistas indexadas. Así, se revisaron prácticas como slow design, diseño estratégico, el diseño transicional, el diseño integral, el diseño de interacción, diseño de servicios, el diseño de experiencias, y el diseño sustentable. Los principales hallazgos identifican cuatro aspectos en los que la materialidad se ha erosionado: los problemas, los procesos, los participantes y los productos. Finalmente, el título “Diseñar Sin Manos” responde a otro hallazgo entorno al perfil del diseñador: que las habilidades necesarias para el desempeño profesional en las prácticas periféricas a las disciplinas no responden al dominio de una técnica y destreza manual, sino más bien a la adquisición de habilidades cognitivas. En otras palabras, diseñar sin manos se refiere a que la mayor parte del proceso de diseño se realiza mediante actividades que dependen de la capacidad de participar y proponer ideas, integrar y mejorar métodos y procesos, comprender contextos y problemas complejos y hasta promover, participar y dirigir procesos de colaboración y co-creación. Al final algunos cuestionamientos buscan motivar la reflexión, abrir el debate, y preguntarse si existe la necesidad de formar nuevos perfiles de diseñadores. Cabe reflexionar sobre la relación mano-diseño, en lugar de la relación mente-diseño, pues, aunque se ha insistido en fundamentar el proceso de diseño en las distintas disciplinas, los resultados del mismos suelen mostrar claramente un énfasis en artefactos tangibles cuya calidad depende de la destreza manual del diseñador y no necesariamente la cognitiva. Estos son fundamentales para el desarrollo de la disciplina, la cual podría comenzar desde las instituciones educativas revisando los énfasis que en éstas se da a través de la concepción de materias, talleres y seminarios, así como las horas destinadas a cada uno de los mismos, para iniciar una búsqueda por formar diseñadores capaces de hacer frente a los problemas complejos a los que actualmente nos enfrentamos como sociedad.
... De acuerdo con Steve Mann (Bataille, 2013), hoy en día se requieren profesionales capacitados en forma de árbol. Su propuesta parte del esquema de David Guest, quien proponía profesionales en forma de T (Baratta, 2017). Ésta, se refiere a que los profesionales actuales deberían tener conocimiento de distintas áreas para colaborar de forma multidisciplinar -representado por la barra horizontal de la T -(figura DIDÁCTICA EN EL DISEÑO | CAPÍTULO 2 2), y al mismo tiempo tener un conocimiento y expertise profundo sobre una disciplina en particular como el diseño -representado por la barra vertical de la T. En cambio, una forma de árbol, promueve el desarrollo en distintas áreas disciplinares -que son las ramas del árbol -, y también expertise en distintas direcciones, que son las raíces del árbol. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The design process (DP) has always been a fundamental issue when it comes to understanding its disciplinary nature. Various authors, especially from the specialty of Industrial Design, have deepened its definition as a process integrated by a series of general stages aimed at solving complex problems through the configuration of objects. Next, a comparative analysis is presented regarding different perspectives that in the last 50 years have been presented with the intention of understanding the design process; this analysis leads to the identification of certain common aspects that in general terms allow describing the design process from its conception, main characteristics and basic stages. Subsequently, a general description of the Research-Creation concept is developed, given its recent appearance in the context of design education in Colombia and in the field of academic research. This description presents Research-Creation (RC) as an alternative model for the generation of new knowledge, much closer to the creative disciplines. Finally, given the obvious similarities between the two concepts a proposal is presented that makes possible, from the comparison between the fundamental aspects of both, the approach of the Design process as a Research-Creation process. This proposal emphasizes the importance at disciplinary level of giving Design as a complex and rigorous process a fundamental role in the generation of new knowledge from the perspective of Research-Creation.
... Over the past decade, there has been increasing acknowledgement of encouraging a wider awareness of knowledge while concurrently developing a deeper level of expertise in an area. What is often referred to as a T-Shaped educational model, expertise in one profession and awareness of related professions [2]. This educational model facilitates the incorporation of design and creative thinking skills as part of breadth knowledge and more holistic thinkers. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Tez kapsamında teknoloji tabanlı işbirlikli projelerde çalışan endüstriyel tasarımcıların rolleri araştırılmıştır. Tasarımcı rollerinin tasarım-teknoloji etkileşimi ve tasarımcı-mühendis işbirliği bağlamında analiz edilmesi amaçlanmıştır. Türkiye ekseninde gerçekleştirilen araştırma için ekonomi ve ticaret raporları doğrultusunda teknoloji tabanlı 3 sektör belirlenmiştir: Türkiye ekonomisini yönlendiren Motorlu Kara Taşıtları Sektörü, gelişmekte olan Elektrikli Ev Aletleri Sektörü ve devlet desteğine ihtiyaç duyan Tıbbi Cihazlar Sektörü çalışma evrenini oluşturmuştur. Sektörler Türkiye ekonomisinde sırasıyla yüksek, orta ve düşük ihracat oranları sebebiyle seçilmiştir. Çalışma kapsamında 15 kişiye pilot anket, 42 kişiye ön anket ve 55 kişiye ana anket uygulamaları yapılmıştır. Ana anket uygulamasına Motorlu Kara Taşıtları Sektöründe ürün geliştirme projeleri yapan 7 firma, Elektrikli Ev Aletlerin Sektöründen 8 firma ve Tıbbi Cihazlar Sektöründen 8 firma katılmıştır. Ayrıca ankete katılan 15 endüstriyel tasarımcı ile yapılan derin görüşmelerde görüşme formu yaklaşımı uygulanmış ve anket sonuçları temellendirilmiştir. Görüşmelere ek olarak tasarımcı ve mühendis mesleklerinden yönetici statüsündeki 5 kişi ile yeni ürün geliştirme ekipleri değerlendirilmiştir. Anket sonuçları SPSS programı ile Ki Kare bağımsızlık testinde işlenerek çapraz tablolar oluşturulmuştur. Yapılan araştırmalar endüstriyel tasarımcıların özel sektörde üstlendikleri 3 farklı rol olduğunu göstermiştir. Süreç analizleri ile tasarımcıların ve mühendislerin yeterlilikleri ve görevleri tanımlanmış, karşılaşılan problemlere akademik eğitim ve sektörel çalışmalar üzerinden çözüm önerileri sunulmuştur.
Article
Since firms are knowledge institutions, or well-springs of knowledge, they compete on the basis of creating and using knowledge; managing a firm's knowledge assets is as important as managing its finances. A firm's expertise is acquired by employees and embodied in machines, software, and institutional procedures. Management of its core or strategic capabilities determines a firm's competitiveness and survival. Through decision-making and action, core technological capabilities can be built and changed. The author proposes to (1) help managers think about the knowledge-building consequences of their technology-related decisions and (2) provide academics materials usable in training managers to think about knowledge building. All aspects of product or process development must be viewed in terms of knowledge management and growth. Knowledge cannot be managed the same as tangible assets; to manage knowledge assets, one must understand them. Successful adaptation is an incremental re-direction of skills and knowledge. A set of four core technological competencies bestows competitive advantage on firms; these are the firm's skill and knowledge bases, physical technical systems, managerial systems, and values and norms that create a firm's special advantage. These may reside at any line-of-business level. Core capabilities must be managed to foster, not inhibit flow of critical knowledge. There is a dilemma: core capabilities are also core rigidities when carried to an extreme or when the competitive environment changes. Limited problem solving, inability to innovate, limited experimentation, and screening out new knowledge can undermine the development of competencies. Four key activities create and sustain flows of knowledge and direct them into core capabilities: (1) Integrated, shared creative problem solving across cognitive and functional barriers - shared problem solving achieves new level of creativity when managed for "creative abrasion." (2) Implementation and integration of new internally generated methodologies and technical processes and tools. These can move beyond merely increasing efficiency when managed for learning. (3) Formal and informal experimentation. Experimental activities create new core competencies that move companies purposefully forward and are guards against rigidity. (4) Importing and absorbing technological knowledge expertise from outside the firm. Technology alliances, for example, develop outwise wellsprings of knowledge (identify, access, use, and manage knowledge from external sources). Well managed, these enable companies to tap knowledge wellsprings consistently and continuously. Many dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors within firms inhibit these activities. These activities are oriented to present, internal, future, and external domains, and involve managers at all company levels and all functions. Specific managerial behaviors that build (or undermine) capabilities are identified. Managers must design an environment that encourages enactments of these four activities to create an organization that learns. Thereby, organizations and managers can create an atmosphere for continuous renewal; application to commercial ends is as important as managing it internally. The growth and nurturing of core capabilities (expressed in successful product development) requires learning from the market (understanding user needs), or feeding market information into new-product development. Identifying new product opportunities depends on empathic design, actual observed customer behavior, and technological capabilities. Technology transfer can also be understood as transferring technological capabilities to a new site, which is examined at four levels (assembly or turnkey, adaptation and localization, system, redesign, product design). Transfer of production development capability is illustrated with the cas
On being T-shaped The design ladder The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing
  • T Brown
Brown, T (2009). On being T-shaped. http://www.core77.com/hack2work/2009/0 9/on_being_tshaped.asp Danish Design Centre (2003). The design ladder. http://ddc.dk/wpcontent/uploads/2015/05/DesignLadder_en.pdf Guest, D. (1991). The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing. The Independent (London), September 17.
The Designful Company: How to build a culture of non-stop innovation
  • M Neumeier
Neumeier, M. (2009). The Designful Company: How to build a culture of non-stop innovation. Peachpit Press.
From T to Pi: design skill expectations in change
  • V Tervo
Tervo, V. (2015). From T to Pi: design skill expectations in change. http://futurice.com/blog/from-t-to-pidesign-skill-expectations-in-change
The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing. The Independent (London)
  • D Guest
Guest, D. (1991). The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing. The Independent (London), September 17.