Gregory Ronczewski is the Director of Product Design at TeamFit platform – view his profile on TeamFit

 

I was sitting on the ferry the other day. The North Shore mountains were slowly getting closer. At first, it was just a large mass of land. A grey-green, almost flat shape. You could only identify significant features. A ridge, or a peak, but the rest stayed neatly wrapped in the vail of distance. As the boat moved closer, some features started to emerge. For instance, I was able to point to the general composition of the forest covering the slopes. At this point, I would not be able to tell apart spruce from hemlock but it was apparent that at the higher elevation, the predominant species belonged to coniferous and only small portion on the edge of the ocean could be identified as deciduous trees, probably an odd maple here and there, higher on the mountain. It is the fall. Therefore, the colours helped. As we near Horseshoe Bay terminal, I was able to see individual trees in their full glory. Hemlock, fir, spruce, or cypress, as well as the majestic arbutus with its distinctive rusty trunks and branches. What inspired me to write this was the fact that I did not miss the details when I was away from the shore. It was all I needed to know to make me comfortable. The landscape presented itself in broad strokes. The rest was blurred away as it was not important. My position kept changing, my relationship to the shore changed as well as the context. Then, the boat made the last starboard turn to face the dock. I put away the book that lied open on my lap. The plan was to read. Instead, I kept staring out the window. The order of time by Carlo Rovelli triggered my thinking and resulted in yet another look at how to visualize skills in the context of a Competency Model.

For Aristotle, time is a measure of change. Everything is in constant evolution. We change. Our perspective changes. Time passes. New relationships come to the focus. It’s all relative. Aristotle also gave us a piece of advice on how to compare entities that do not belong to the same family. We merely need to find one common element between the two. Then, we can apply the logic to both even if they are remotely related. I need add one more name into to the conversation: Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist and philosopher. For Boltzmann, “the difference between past and future does not lie in the elementary laws of motion; it does not reside in the deep grammar of nature. It is the natural disordering that leads to gradually less particular, less special situations. (…) The notion of “particularity” is born at the moment we begin to see the universe in a blurred approximate state.”

If everything we experience is about relationships and the context, perhaps we can look at the mass of land in the distance in the same way as we look at the cluster of skills. From afar, or in general, I could distinguish an engineer from a project manager. Someone with a lot of experience from a person who just started professional life. Do I need more information at this point? Probably not. As we move closer, individual skill can be separated and what is even more important, is their relationship to other skills become visible. Remember, it’s all about the relationship. A constant change where nothing stands still. There is another interesting proposition. We had numerous discussions on how to treat skills that we are not actively using. My position on this was and still is that you can’t turn skills on or off. They are weaved deeply into our existence. They form who we are. At the same time, do we really need to see all of it? No, we don’t. It is still there, but, as the context changes, the perspective shifts and I may see, in my case, some of the skills that belong to my architecture background; but really, they do not represent my strengths and abilities of today. Yet, they form who I am. It is a bit like a long lens on the camera, when you start changing the aperture and the zoom, the portrait you are just about to make comes up with this magically blurred background. You can still tell where the photo was taken, but the sharp details only depict the subject in the foreground.

 

A pod of orcas can be spotted in the center, playing in front of the ferry. October 12, 2018, 8:40 AM.

 

There is one more thought inspired by Rovelli’s book. The idea of change that Aristotle was so keen on. When we started to look at the Competency Models, one of the key elements was the ability to project a possible career or the learning path. Learning is about change. Career is about change. Nobody wants to be stuck in the same cubicle year after year. Relationships are built on change. The constant movement of thoughts, gestures, and decisions that power us through time. What is time? According to Carlo Rovelli, “for everything that moves, time passes more slowly.” Time is relative. Did you know that a few centuries ago, the summer hour was longer than the winter hour? Time was measured by the dusk and dawn. The clock placed on the floor runs slower than when placed on the table. Indeed, that’s a different story. Different perspective, different lens, and a different relationship. For now, we just want to be able to look at the skill map, adjust the focus according to what we are looking for and blur away any details that obscure the view.