Gregory Ronczewski leads the design of the TeamFit platform – view his profile on TeamFit

According to Wikipedia “Collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to achieve shared or overlapping objectives.” It will be hard to find a role without a need to collaborate. It is interesting though to see that Wikipedia collaboration and cooperation. Cooperating means working with someone – making them more able to do something by providing information or resources they wouldn’t otherwise have. Collaborating means working alongside someone (from Latin laborare: to work) to achieve something together. Let’s focus on the latter.

Collaboration is a powerful skill. An enabler of many Associative and Complementary Skills. People work alongside in so many applications. For TeamFit’s website, we decided to choose inspiring photos of people working together to help people think differently about their skills. We have a Symphony Orchestra, an Operating Room, a Jazz Combo and a Sailing Crew. All those situations depend on close collaboration of the team members. Working together can be challenging, but if the team has the right composition there is an incredible, uplifting feeling of belonging to something bigger. Anyone who has played an instrument in a music ensemble knows this. The pure joy of being in the right place at the right time. The ability to collaborate is responsible for this feeling along with Active Listening, Empathy, Providing Feedback to name few associated skills.

Associated skills: skills often found together in the same person. (Big Data and Statistics)

Complementary skills: skills that are often used together by two different people. (UI Design and Front-End Engineering)

For Design, Collaboration is everything. I often think that Designer’s role is close to a Negotiator or Crisis Manager. This is true across design disciplines. For instance, a Furniture Designer needs to negotiate between current design trends, existing competition, the client’s vision for the project, available materials and their properties, budget, timeline, and manufacturing options. Then, the Design itself needs to balance the weight distribution, flexing of the material, constant movement and use changes. Without the ability to listen, to process feedback, to iterate, and improve the end result will never meet the objectives. The above list could be replaced with list of people Designer needs to collaborate with: clients, manufacturers, materials suppliers, and the people who will be using the furniture. Without people there is no design.

In another post, Steven asked “Is empathy a skill?” or a character trait. I think you can ask the same question about Collaboration. Is it a skill, one that can be learned, or a quality that some of us have.  This opens the question ‘What exactly are skills?’ How can we get closer to them? As with any domain, digging deeper uncovers a whole new world to discover, a world that is hidden behind a common understanding of the domain. Any domain. One of the best ways to acquire knowledge and skills is to surround yourself with all sorts of elements belonging to this new world. We have designed and build TeamFit exactly for this reason. We all have skills but we don’t really understand what they are. TeamFit allows you to dive into the world of skills. It is a self discovery journey and we hope to offer our users a place to learn and manage their most important assets.

I think most skills can be learned. Some skills require simple training and experience. Many technology skills belong to this category. Other skills quietly sneak upon us and before we know we now behave and act differently. One may say that it is character traits can accelerate the development of social skills. It is a lifelong process, leaving residue and traces of all our professional and personal experiences, layer after layer, skill after skill. Our Skill Map, with its coloured bars and skill cards, is an attempt to visualize a person through a skill lens. Core skills rise to the top, followed by target skills. As the level of experience moves up and evidence for the skill is gathered the colour intensifies. In my opinion the greatest benefit that TeamFit offers is the doorway into the world of skills. A world that most of us pass every day without noticing yet this world is responsible for our careers and the ability to collaborate is a perfect starting point into the world of skills.