On Being T-Shaped

This gem from the Valve Handbook for New Employees turned up on BoingBoing today. In Cory's words "It is so goddamned good that I couldn't pick just one (or two) passages to quote". Well, I can.

We value "T-shaped" people. That is, people who are both generalists (highly skilled at a broad set of valuable things - the top of the T) and also experts (among the best in their field within a narrow discipline - the vertical leg of the T). This recipe is important for success at Valve. We often have to pass on people who are very strong generalists without expertise, or vice versa. An expert who is too narrow has difficulty collaborating. A generalist who doesn't go deep enough in a single area ends up on the margins, not really contributing as an individual.

T-shaped. Now there's something to aspire to. I'm working on it...

You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing. Now. For real. It's better than any management book you'll ever read, and I now feel better about my knife collection (read the Glossary). Valve must be one fun place to work.

Jeremy Ulstad

Dad, IT Architect, Hack Musician, Sailor

Minneapolis, Minnesota http://jeremyulstad.com