The T-shaped skills development model that accounted for a grounding of soft skills and a deep-dive into a set of hard skills has been more recently modified into an E-shaped model that allowed for multiple levels of deep expertise. But a tree-shaped model may be a more powerful and effective way of thinking through skill development: Durable skills form the roots of the tree, with semi-durable frameworks forming the branches, and more perishable skills coming and going like the leaves with the changing seasons. Our task is to grow a tree that is tall and wide, and flourishes in every season, feeding the roots that keep the tree steady, growing branches of new expertise, and fostering the leaves that change with the passage of time.
When we over-index perishable skills, we handicap our employees from the agility and range they need to respond to an increasingly volatile world. A tree-shaped paradigm enables us to view mindset and framework learning as essential to the task at hand. This organic model represents a different way of thinking about skill development, one that encourages us to develop skills with an eye for their durability, their transferability and their relevance for roles that our organizations may need to fill years into the future.