Project Management

Project Management Central

Please login or join to subscribe to this thread

Topics: Agile, Organizational Project Management, Teams
What is you cup of T shape look like ?
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”

Most of the time this phrase is partially used as a touch of sarcasm or as an insult but the original phrase's intent was to complement one.

Why this is essential for success? For the reasons like:

1. It allows flexibility
2. Considered a strength
3. Some roles demand it as one cannot confine it to one skill
4. Same goal can be achieved with less no. of people
5. Adapting to new skills enables a learning and growth mindset

In a similar way, for project delivery, cross-functional teams are looked upon to achieve the goals. The cross-functional team does not mean that everyone can do everything or that one has to work all the time.

To understand the concept of Cross-functional teams let us first understand the types of team members.

1. I shaped
- Expert in one
- Great at their job

2. Hyphen shaped
- Capable of a lot of things
- Expert in none

3. T shaped
- Combination of I and hyphen shaped
- Expert in one area
- Can also collaborate across other disciplines
- Ability to work outside the core skillset

4. Pie Shaped
- Extension of T shaped
- Two areas of expertise
- Broad top for collaboration

5. M-shaped, comb-shaped
- Again an extension of T shaped
- M shaped - expertise in 3 areas
- Comb-shaped - multiple areas of expertise

Cross-functional teams are formed by T, Pie, M, and comb-shaped members who have expertise in one skill set and knowledge and experience across the other areas.

Agile frameworks like Scrum thrive when a team can use cross-functional collaboration to tackle a variety of challenges. Most team members are T-shaped rather than M and comb-shaped, where everyone works per their expertise but also pitches in to ensure as a team the goal is achieved.

What is your cup of T shape look like? Thoughts are welcome !!
Sort By:
Maybe its not quite that simple. In my view there are layers of expertise.

For example I am an engineer thus considered an expert in the application of science. Within that expertise I am mechanical and within that heat transfer and ventilation with a passing interest in automotive.

I am also a project management professional (expired PMP). Within that expertise I specialize in infrastructure delivery and within that focus on risk management, contract management, scheduling and cost management.

However in my last assignments I was essentially in a purely management position yet able to relate to numerous 'specialty' areas.

What I'm saying is that we are all complicated individuals, the product of our education, experience, interests and what others demand of us. I am not prepared to choose a pre-selected 'type'. Furthermore I would feel insulted if one were to buttonhole me as a 'type'.
It does not matter the approach (agile for example) or the framework/method (Scrum for example) all projects will involve cross functional teams. If that is not understanding then is the first step to fail. Mainly because the key reason for a project existence has not been understand: to create a solution. So, the form does not matter, what matter is to understand that you need to integrate the silos. In my personal experience along the years the way that has been taken today by SAFe related to value streams works well in terms that in my personal experience applying it helped organizations where I worked on to achieve the expected benefits. But that´s not new. It has been used from long time ago.
I believe for success need to have every flavor in your project team.

Especially what I have experienced in some projects just having the project management skills, is not enough. High level Business and Process understanding is needed. Project Manager can take the project to another level once that is achieved.

It also helps at the end getting right trainings and resources for your project team. Getting better attention of the stakeholders etc.

For ultimate success you need all the variety in the team and if the project manager jack of all trades then nothing like it ... it is a cherry on top.
I'm with Peter on this one. I was an Oracle Certified Professional Database Administrator. I currently hold four PMI certifications. I have achieved the highest award in Toastmasters: Distinguished Toastmaster. Do I fit one of your category? Probably. But then there are so many other layers that come into play--and into work-- that I sometimes feel more like I'm in the centipede category.
Agree with Ruby here.
Some thoughts /experience: Project manager's need for the type of team members changes with the kind of projects. Generally, T shape is best suited for most of the projects. For very complex projects , focusing on a key technology, 'I'shape might work. In addition to the type of team members, its the team culture which matters. A team which supports each other and pitches in the time of need with out any push is a great one. Such project can be successful even with just few T or M shapes members and more - shaped ones.

For a project manager, its always good to be a jack of all and identify the masters from your team !

Please login or join to reply

Content ID:

"I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me."

- Winston Churchill