Steven Forth is a Co-Founder of TeamFit. See his Skill Profile.


In December 2017 we shared some early results on work we have been doing using mind maps to help people understand and share their career goals.

We began this work as a bit of a lark, not knowing what to expect or where it would take us. The results have been overwhelming, with people spontaneously sending us mind maps of their career goals. Career goals have also surfaced as something of interest in skill management in our ongoing survey on skills and skill management.

If you have not yet taken the survey, please do so here!

Look for alignment across career goals

Let’s look at some of the things we have been learning about mind maps and career goals. In our original post, we shared the mind maps for Karen Chiang and myself. Karen is COO at TeamFit, and I am the CEO. How well do our career objectives align?

Karen and I have been working together from time to time at various companies since the mid 1990s. One reason for this is that we share some career goals and feel that by working together we are more likely to realize them. We both want to create wealth, for our families and our communities. We do this in a number of ways, through angel investing (we are both part of the Vancouver angel investment group E-Fund) and by spending a lot of time on community development.

I suggest that people who work closely together, especially on an early-stage venture, create a mind map of their career goals, and then look for the places where they are aligned. There should be at least one critical career goal on which the two people are aligned. Do this for each pairing of the leadership team, and see what the web of connections looks like.

From our friends in Toronto

Toronto seems to be a hotspot for us in terms of interests in mind mapping career goals. Here are a couple that we are able to share. One of the people who sent us a mind map is a designer who is in early mid-career. She prefers to remain anonymous.

This is a great example of how skills and career goals mingle. It is also a good look into how one UX designer sees her skills. Of course, this person did this mind map on her own, on the subway on her way into work, so it feels different from some of the others. I especially like the way that the career goal of ‘Self Care’ links to both ‘Help Others,’ ‘Empower Others’ and ‘Independence.’ Do a sense a leader in the making?

The next mind map is from David Porter, who is currently CEO at eCampus Ontario. David has played an important role over the past decades in pushing forward our understanding of how people learn and the systems that support learning, both in post-secondary education and in the private sector.

Take a look at David’s level 1 goals: ‘Learn,’ ‘Explore,’ ‘Connect,’ ‘Maintain.’ Pick one of these, say ‘Explore,’ and see how it shows up in other places. The level 1 goal is to ‘Explore and Innovate Continuously’ and then ‘Explore’ shows up again under ‘Travel.’ These under the surface connections are what give a career, and indeed life, a purpose and meaning.

Some innovations in mind mapping

In continuing this work, we have seen some interesting innovations in how people express themselves through mind maps. Chuck Hamilton has worked with David Porter over the years. He is also an important adviser to TeamFit. After leaving IBM, where he headed up global mentoring among other things, he stepped into the innovation world and had been advising Riipen, another VentureLabs company, on strategy.

A career goal can be what you do not want to do. For those of us at the peak of our careers, like Chuck and myself, there are very clear boundaries on what we are willing to do.

Interestingly, the same thing came up with TeamFit co-founder Amar Dhaliwal. This was spontaneous and without any prompting or coaching on our part. Since then, we have seen this a few more times.

From a TeamFit perspective, it is interesting to compare Amar’s career goals mind map with his skill map.


Amar has deep domain expertise built up over many years in the Talent Management and Human Capital Management fields that he combines with Team Leadership to make him an effective leader.

David Botta leads a lot of our data analysis and design work. For most people, data analysis and design are complementary skills (skills frequently used together by different people), but for David, they are associated skills (skills frequently found in the same person and used together in support of a higher-level objective). That is not what is most unique about David’s career goals mind map though.

Note two things. First, there is only one level 1 construct – David defines himself as an artist, and everything else comes from this. For those of us who know David and his artwork, this is obvious once stated. The other intriguing thing here is that some of David’s career goals are empty ovals, they are open, yet to be defined, signifying potential. David is not a young man. He is one of the older people to have shared a career goals mind map. He sees his career as open. That gives me a lot of hope for myself!

David’s TeamFit skill map is below. Note the skills of Active Listening and Honesty. These also show up in his artwork. David has given all of us a lot of guidance on how to design and conduct interviews.

What does all this have to do with skills?

What began as a lark is becoming an obsession. We plan to collect several hundred of these career goal mind maps (we are well on our way) and then put them into a more formal structure so that we can look for patterns. Modern software tools have become very good at pattern recognition (in part owing to their roots in machine vision), and if we can find the right data representation, I am sure we will find some interesting things. We will be asking questions like …

‘When do different goals indicate similar things?’
‘What goals tend to appear together?’
‘What are the formal properties of these graphs and what do the formal properties suggest about the person?’
‘Can we find similarities and critical differences between people based on their skill graphs?

At the end of the day, we want to help people develop the skills they need to achieve their goals. We will be looking at how to connect the ‘career goals graph’ to the TeamFit Skill Graph.