Cultivating T-Shaped Professionals in the Era of Digital Transformation
As a result of the rapid growth of urban populations and use of smartphones, the new millennium has ushered in an age of unprecedented levels of collaborative and competitive local and global relations, constantly reshaped by advances in science, public policy, technology platforms, and open practices. The dynamic nature of these open innovation-oriented relationships is not sufficiently incorporated into and addressed by conventional education systems. Today's digital talents are still primarily siloed in functions and disciplines that were designed to meet the needs of an earlier era. Current rewards and incentives are also focused along these lines. Consequently, traditional academics are encouraged to delve deeper within their areas of specialization rather than reach out to colleagues in other disciplines to develop transdisciplinary research agendas. Across all sectors, the new digital millennium requires new types of professionals and work practices as well as new types of citizens and social practices. To help people be successful in this dynamic environment of rapidly changing smart service systems, should the education systems of the future encourage hyperspecialization, hyperflexibility, or something else? In this commentary, we make the case for an education system that encourages the development of T-shaped digital professionals and citizens - futureready innovators who uniquely combine specialization (critical thinking and problemsolving depth) and flexibility (empathy, breadth of knowledge, skills, experience, and complex communication abilities) and who also use smart machines as assistants. This combination of personal capabilities allows for rapid formation of high-performance teams working in open innovation environments to build smarter service systems. © 2018 INFORMS.
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