T and Pi shaped People – Aliens Among Us

Modern marketing requires a new set of skills – and they look alien to many experienced traditional marketers. It’s a combination of technical skills with creative ability and a curiosity to dig into analytics. From the pre-madmen Claude Hopkins era to hey days of Chiat/Day, marketing had strong black and white divisions between identities within the team.

  • Account and C-level executives = suits
  • Finance = bean-counters
  • Creative = crazies, weirdos, and worse
  • Media = well, I’m not sure anyone called them anything
  • Admins = not socially acceptable to repeat what they were called back then.

I suspect that the “suits” created and perpetuated these labels. Just a  hunch. But the lines were rarely if ever crossed. It used to be when you found one of the special weirdos that had some visual sense and understood that marketing should communicate with words as well (usually) you were lucky. You made them a creative director. Somebody that understood using words and images together was a crazy dual-kind of talent.

That has changed with modern marketing. Two tools aren’t going to get it done. According to this article by Econsultancy, ”the term ‘T-shaped’ was first used by McKinsey & Company to describe the type of person they were looking to hire.” In their case they were looking for people with deep vertical skill and expertise, the “|” part of the “T” along with a broad horizontal “─” understanding of all other disciplines required. That’s nice, but it’s not really that different. It’s still basically and expert with some limited understanding in other areas. Limited understanding has limited utility in business.

Later,  Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein coined the term “pi-shaped (Π)“. This introduced the idea of marketers that were adapt at using both the right and left sides of their brains. Previously the balance of analytical and creative skills in marketing were set by the structure of the different team members. Now, with dramatically leaner teams, modern marketing demands team members that possess both. This is a much bigger leap.

On one hand it’s simple numbers: headcounts are reduced. On the other hand, communication has changed. It’s much more personal, mobile, and trackable. It has always required stories. The addition of tracking and automation, of really knowing how people engage with and find stories and being able to deliver it is completely new. Just the idea of moving beyond specialties is new to marketing. You can call it alien, but it’s arrived. Everyone must be a Multi-tooled Marketer at some level.

For more about T-shapes,right vs. left brain, and a people oriented approach, check out this article.

 

 

This entry was posted in High Bar Marketing, Modern Marketing on March 23, 2013 by Devin Meister.

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