Gregory Ronczewski is the Director of Product Design at TeamFit platform – view his profile on TeamFit
Top image: ICOM Amateur Base Station IC-7700 HF/50MHz Transceiver 

 

In Japanese aesthetics, there is something called wabi-sabi. It is sometimes described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin), impermanence (無常 mujō), suffering (苦 ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū). (from Wikipedia).

The wabi-sabi aesthetic includes asymmetry, roughness, expressions that are not expected, also simplicity, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

In a world that constantly strives for perfection, this approach shows us that perfect can be too perfect, and when it happens, it is merely dull. The idea of breaking away from the expected, organized, aligned is fundamental to any artistic expression. On one side, there is a strong desire to hold a balance and to create a synthesis of what we can call beauty. Leonardo’s Vitruvian man is a good example. But let’s not forget the characters from his work, the intense expressions on their faces. Faces that are far from what one can describe as being beautiful, well, except for the Mona Lisa of course. But even the Mona Lisa shares this little something that for centuries people havre tried to solve. Is it just the smile? The power of the transformation that Renaissance brought was the concept of sharing tradition with innovation. This is why our current time is often compared to Renaissance. I am not sure about the ‘sharing the tradition part.’ Too often we want to innovate just for the sake of innovation.

Leonardo da Vinci, Grotesque Heads, c. 1490, pen drawing on paper, Windsor Royal Library.

 

Let’s leave Leonardo for now, and look at the idea of what great means. We have great products, excellent services and great people. Samsung’s phones work great, look great. The iPhone is great as well. Some will choose the latter and some will carry the other one. The companies producing those phones will converge at some point with features, services and options so similar that it will be hard to tell them apart. Who knows, perhaps in a few years, we will all have a phone. Period. The only difference will be attached to the available services or rather the access level.

What about the people? They are great too. Take a look at a pile of job applications that are sitting on your desk. Oops, sorry, there are no physical résumés these days – it is all done by a machine reader, but the outcome is similar. It looks like only great people applied for this job. Each CV format adheres to a common standard, the list of skills matches the job description, and roles are correctly presented. Even the cover letters are way too similar. Imagining myself in HR department, I would be dying for a bit of wabi-sabi. For a résumé that is not great, not perfect, but remarkable. Something that will put a smile on my face.

How to capture this remarkableness? I was reading the other day about a Nordic ski race and I remember a comment that the person who leans forward the most will win the race. I am not sure what actually happened at the finish line, but the leaning portion was interesting. There is an expression “to gravitate.” We gravitate towards specific roles, jobs, interests, or people. It is a form of leaning towards something. Having an interest in a particular area. Those are small details but for some reason, those tiny little things may have a significant impact on the outcome. Is there a way to capture this leaning or gravitating notion?

Let’s not forget Competency Models. One of our favourite topics at TeamFit. From what we have seen, they come in a variety of formats, but there are few characteristics that we have found in each and every example we looked at. These are not the actual skills or desired behaviours at a certain level of competence or required for a specific role. What the models have in common are the outcomes that companies who invested in the modelling are hoping to achieve. The ability to track, modify and quickly find skills or clusters of skills across the organization is the primary objective. So what type of model can support this? Again, most of the time we will see great people with excellent skills. This is a tendency that we see in almost every aspect of our life. What instrument is needed to pick up those tiny fluctuations of skills, knowledge and talents pointing to quelque chose d’extraordinaire. Like a shortwave radio with a set of dials allowing the listener to pick up even the weakest signals from across the world. A skilltuner so to speak. This is exactly what we are working on. Why? Because we don’t like to settle on great or perfect – we want to see a bit of unexpected, a bit of wabi-sabi in the world of skills.