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The following excerpt from the “design thinking” genre illustrates the emerging recognition of the “T-shaped” personality type… interdisciplinary teams / divergent thinking as a route to innovation. Tim Brown (CEO of renowned design agency “IDEO”) explains the need for both a vertical axis (depth of skill) and a horizontal axis (empathy for other disciplines).

To operate within an interdisciplinary environment, an individual needs to have strengths in two dimensions — the “T-shaped” person. On the vertical axis, every member of the team needs to possess a depth of skill that allows him or her to make tangible contributions to the outcome. The top of the “T” is where the design thinker is made. It’s about empathy for people and disciplines beyond one’s own. It tends to be expressed as openness, curiosity, optimism, a tendency toward learning through doing, and experimentation.

(Tim Brown – CEO, IDEO)

Design Thinking for Social Innovation” – Stanford Social Innovation Review – vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 2010)