One of the common career development tropes I’ve heard over the years is t-shaped skills, but I think it’s an ineffectual representation of how people actually evolve in their career.

Primarily, this oversimplification serves to narrow the perception of the person significantly - framing a person’s skills in a t-shape makes it sound like they are really excellent at one thing and marginally exceeding uselessness in everything else.

From my own perspective, I have evolved interests in other disciplines that interact with my core role as a developer, such that over time what develops is more of a mutated t-shape. For example, my skills would look something like this:

product | marketing | development | design | ux | sales
  x          x            x           x       x    x
  x          x            x           x
  x                       x 						

The idea here is relatively simple - it’s not a straight T, it’s mutated. This graphic representation is far more descriptive of where a person stands. Any energy put into learning other disciplines is no longer reduced to a binary has it / doesn’t have it when falling outside the core skill set. Someone who fiddled around on Photoshop no longer has the same depth of skill as a person who understands something about design principles. The mutated t-shape is the results of a person who has put efforts into fields to expand their field of knowledge.

What’s more, being open to a mutated t-shape opens the door to zooming in or out of each column. Development could have its own set of skills, or you could step back and possibly encapsulate this skill set in terms of Product and put it along side other more general skills (perhaps with the excommunication of sales, I would hesitate to categorize that as part of a traditional Product skill set).