Tina Seelig, who teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford Business School, talks about the need for “T-shaped people” in a Mercury News interview
This means people with a great depth of knowledge in at least one discipline, like chemical engineering or biology, and a breadth of knowledge across many skills. Across the top of the T are a knowledge of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.
It’s no longer good enough to be an individual contributor where you have a clearly defined role. You need to be able to work across disciplines. The classes range from traditional business topics such as strategy, finance and marketing, but also focus on leadership, dealing with innovation and negotiation — the softer skills that are very, very important. So it’s about management and leadership.
“Failure is the secret sauce of Silicon Valley,” Seeling says. She tells her students to write a “failure résumé” explaining their personal, professional and academic mistakes.
Every leader in every organization has made big mistakes. That’s why we hire people with experience — we want them because of their successes and for what they have learned from their failures.
Entrepreneurs “see the world as opportunity-rich, and see problems as opportunities,” she says.
When my husband interviewed for a job with Cisco CEO John Chambers, he talked about his failures in a start-up company. Chambers talked about his failures. My husband got the job. Now he’s left Cisco and is starting a new company. Odds are it will fail. But maybe not.
Chinese students may be strong on technical skills, but they’re not creative risk takers, writes Randy Pollock, also in the Mercury News.
While teaching in China, he challenged his Chinese MBA students to brainstorm a business plan in two hours, giving them a restaurant chain as an example. He asked for originality.
In the end, five of the six groups presented plans for, you guessed it, restaurant chains. The sixth proposed a catering service. Why risk a unique solution when the instructor has let it slip he likes the food business?
Innovators need critical and creative skills in addition to technical knowledge, he writes.