How Would You Build a Modern Workplace Learning Professional?

As I am thinking about an upcoming talk, I am curious about what skills people would include if they could build their own version of a perfect “Modern Workplace Learning Professional”. Think Frankenstein for learning…or maybe Baymax is a better, more modern analogy?

Below is a slide from a conference session I’ve given a few times trying to make the point that while just about anyone can design a learning experience, doing it well requires a lot more than simply having some authoring software.

T-Shaped Skills

That got me thinking about what a T-shaped learning professional would look like. The concept of T-shaped skills originated with David Guest in 1991 but was popularized by Tim Brown, of IDEO, when describing the type of people he wanted to work for his organization.

The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.

Being a successful professional today requires boundary-crossing competencies such as teamwork, communication, perspective, networks, and critical thinking across many disciplines.

Using Buffer’s example of a “T-Shaped Marketer” I’ve started a quick and dirty draft of what a T-Shaped Learning Professional might look like.






Learning Science


Instructional Design




Multimedia Creation

Visual Design







Social Platforms

Behavioral Science



Data & Analytics

This is obviously a long way from a finished product, but as I work on it I know that inviting you and others to add your thoughts will help make it much better than what I could come up with on my own.

What skills would you add to this T-Shaped matrix?
Come on in and add your categories and skills to this Google Doc.

Here are some of the first people who popped into my head as inspiration for my workplace learning professional “Frankenstein” knowledge and skills.

Who is your inspiration for the knowledge and skills you’d include in your own version?

Published by Mike Taylor

Born with a life-long passion for learning, I have the great fortune to work at the intersection of learning, design, technology & collaboration.

One thought on “How Would You Build a Modern Workplace Learning Professional?

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