The T Summit 2014 event will focus on graduating tomorrow’s talent today, the future workforce, future citizens, and industry-academic partnerships that dovetail to co-create twenty-first century (21C) talent. 21C talent includes university graduates and lifelong learning professionals who are T-shaped with both depth and breadth across disciplines, sectors, and cultures (see image below). To understand T-shaped talent and empathy, or the desire to learn all areas of knowledge, think about the return of the generalist, without sacrificing depth in some area(s) of specialization.
When it comes to 21C Talent, the logic is really quite simple for IBM and other globally-integrated enterprises with platforms for scaling the benefits of new knowledge globally, rapidly, and sustainably:
- IBM’s primary initiative is to build a Smarter Planet, and that requires diverse IBMers, customers, partners, etc. working together on teams
- IBM hires people from all disciplines – engineering, management, social sciences & public policy, arts & humanities – etc.
- IBM hires people to work on solutions for all sectors – transportation, water, manufacturing, energy, communications, buildings, retail, finance, health, education, government, etc.
- IBM hires people from nearly all continents and countries – North and South America, Europe, Africa, Middle-East, Asia, ASEAN, etc.
Projects teams at IBM often span multiple disciplines, sectors, and cultures – and so we need T-shaped graduates who can work well together to co-create solutions for a Smarter Planet.
From an IBM perspective, world-class universities should be well positioned to graduate 21C Talent:
- Universities missions include learning, discovery, engagement, and integration.
- University faculty span all disciplines – engineering, management, social sciences & public policy, arts & humanities – etc.
- University research centers span all sectors – transportation, water, manufacturing, energy, communications, buildings, retail, finance, health, education, government, etc.
- University faculty and students span nearly all continents and countries – North and South America, Europe, Africa, Middle-East, Asia, ASEAN, etc.
Project teams at world-class universities span multiple disciplines, sectors, cultures – and so creating T-shaped graduates is both desireable and doable to prepare them as citizens and professionals helping to build a Smarter Planet.
The questions for every faculty at a world-class university include:
- do your courses include team projects for your students?
- do the team projects have multidisciplinary teams?
- do the team projects include industry participants from diverse sectors?
- do the team projects have multicultural teams?
- do the team projects focus on real-world challenges to improve local systems?
- what percentage of your course lectures change every year?
- do new lectures highlight new research finding from journals that highlight new knowledge?
- do new lectures highlight new entrepreneurs, applying new knowledge to create value?
- do new lectures and team projects build the social networks of your students?
The questions for every manager in industry (globally integrated enterprise) include:
- do your annual performance evaluations for your employees include coaching student teams?
- do the coached team projects have multidisciplinary participants?
- do the coached team projects include industry participants from diverse sectors?
- do the coached team projects have multicultural participants?
- do the coached team projects focus on real-world challenges to improve local systems?
- what percentage of your customer offerings change every year?
- do new offerings highlight new research finding from journals that highlight new knowledge?
- do new offerings highlight new entrepreneurial ecosystem partners, applying new knowledge to create value?
- do new offerings and team projects build the social networks of your employees?
Today, most faculty and managers might not score too well, or even see the value of these measures to their work and outcomes. Of course there are outstanding exceptions too – already modeling these next practices! However, to better co-create 21C Talent both academia and industry must transform to realize the vision of Smarter Education – especially as change accelerates.
The adaptiveness, empathy, and boundary spanning abilities of T-shapes are even more important when you factor in the era of cognitive systems, and really smart machines unfolding in the next two decades (about the time for today’s newborns to get to college). The productivity of faculty, students, managers, and employees will all benefit from smarter machines, if they have the T-shaped skills that prepare them to be better boundary-spanning and adaptive innovators capable of taking on grand challenge opportunities. Big data analytics will be applied to helping students select courses that will prepare them for the jobs and careers they are most interested in and most ready to excel in. Big data analytics will be applied to helping employees select work assignments that will prepare them for career advancements they aspire to achieve, as lifelong learners. 21C Talent will become more expert at outsourcing routine work to smart cognitive systems (cognitive computing) and brainstorming innovation opportunities with their smart social networks (social business). Beyond Deep Blue for Chess and Watson for Jeopardy! – which were demonstrations of human-level performance on tasks – the next generation of cognitive systems will be part of our social networks, and will become force-multipliers that enhance performance of human-machine teams on tasks, from medicine to education, and across all sectors of business and society where there are grand challenge opportunities.
To achieve these outcomes both academia and industry must transform and engage in a new level of partnership with a focus on multidisciplinary, multisector, multicultural team projects that actively seek out local community challenge opportunities that are stepping stones to global grand challenge opportunities, and working on challenges in teams will help create 21C Talent which is truly prepared to help build a Smarter Planet.
ISSIP is a professional network linking together T-shaped professional from other professional associations (IEEE, ACM, INFORMS, AMA, AIS, etc.). ISSIP is building a capability that allows individuals to code their resumes and curriculum vita to self-evaluate their own MyT-Score. In the future, ISSIP hopes to provide an app for smart phones that allows professionals to update their MyT-Score using Tweets and other social media interactions on work-and-learning-related projects. ISSIP encourages industry-academic collaboration and student project teams that span disciplines, sectors, and cultures. Join the ISSIP professional network today, it is fast and free!
Stay tuned for T Summit 2015 in planning now – possibly at the National Academies in Washington DC.
Photo credits and caption:
Credits: Julie Belanger, Photographer, 111th Aerial and On-Site Photography Services
Caption: Jim Spohrer, IBM Director of Global University Programs describing T-shaped professionals with depth and breadth across disciplines, sectors, and cultures at the November 2013 BHEF CyberSecurity event at IBM Research – Almaden, San Jose, CA .