What Are T-Shaped Skills And Why You Need To Hire A X-Shaped Profile

A T-shaped profile is a professional who has broad competencies in several areas, critical to the business, while that same professional has a deep competence in a key area of expertise. An X-shaped profile combines a T-shaped profile and strategic thinking able to sheer a company’s strategy

Understanding the difference between T-shaped vs. X-shaped profiles

T-shaped people have now become an essential part of the business world. As the story goes, a T-shaped profile is a person that has a deep understanding and expertise in one or two areas and a broad knowledge of several other areas:


T-Shaped profiles and skills had become widely popular throughout the 1990s when technical people started to get out of engineering departments to take more and more management roles.

However, as the web took over and the digital age became an integral part of the business world, another profile, an X-Shaped one started to become a key element for a company’s success.

Drawbacks for T-Shaped profiles in the digital age

A T-Shaped profile might have been one of those profiles that thrived throughout the 1990s, however as companies evolved to become more and more entrepreneurial; innovation required also large organizations to organize most of their teams around an entrepreneurial mindset.

While a T-Shaped profile adapted well in an era of relatively fast change, it won’t adapt as well in an age of extremely fast-paced evolution.

In this era, an X-Shaped who looks more like an artist or is able to understand several areas of your business so well will be a pivotal profile to drive your business success.

Inside an X-Shaped profile

If you want to hit it big, you need to start adding authoritativeness and leadership as critical skills.

That is when you make the jump from T-shaped to an X-shaped profile!


The X-shaped is an evolution of the T-shaped.

Where T-shaped understands that collaboration is a key to growth.

The X-shaped profile understands that leadership and strategic thinking are crucial ingredients to move a small or large group toward goals that require massive action.

Thus, the X-shaped is together a T-shaped profile and a recognized leader within the organization!

Those sorts of profiles work extremely well in moonshot organizations.

Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles, by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.

X-shaped profiles, usually are very strong in startups, that are in the early innovative cycles, and need entrepreneurial people at their helm.

In these cases, companies leveraging a sort of flatarchy tend to hire this kind of people. 


T-shaped profiles, instead, might be more common in a functional-based matrix organizational structure

Where the whole company is organized around functional managers, who are hybrid between product developers and marketers. 

A matrix organizational structure generally describes a business with multiple managerial accountability and responsibility. The main types of matrix structures comprise the strong matrix (authority lies with a project manager who has a senior role within the company), balanced matrix (it equally distributes power to both the project and functional manager), and weak matrix (where power lies with the functional manager completely).

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