Running a company is like being the captain of a ship. You need to have direction, chart a course, and you need to have a crew to help you reach your destination. Having a good map is critical. Maps have been traced back more than 5000 years. They are one of the main ways we organize information. Cartography, the practice and study of map-making, combines science and aesthetics to effectively communicate data. It is a much needed skill.

Whether leading a team, an entire company, a line of business or a project, having insight into your crew is essential to being an effective leader. At TeamFit, we help organizations maximize the skills and capabilities of their people while enabling people do work that is aligned with their skills and aspirations. We do this by providing a map of skills.

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In my last post, I explored repurposing the Boston Consulting Group’s classic Growth Share Matrix to help frame thinking about the skills you and your company are going to need to evolve and grow.

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For this post, I want to apply cartography to how we map skills.  To do this, I’ve asked team leaders and team members what insight they need to get the best result out of their teammates. Here are some of the responses:

Insight

What are the complementary skills that I have with those I need to work with. Complementary skills are those that when combined with other skills will create the most value. Real competency requires deep knowledge and specialization. As project complexity increases, we need to put together teams that combine people from different disciplines with very different skill sets.

The key themes

The presence of complementary skill sets allows team members to put to work their own deep competencies while integrating their colleague’s strengths. During our skill audit interviews, we found that having people identify the skills they most valued in their colleagues helped them to better understand their own strengths. It also helped them to articulate the skills that they wanted to acquire to make them better collaborators.

Diversity

“When I am looking to build teams and be part of those teams, I am looking for diversity.” A map on skills provides a visual interpretation of the distribution of skills that the entire company, team or even an individual holds. Companies spend billions of dollars attracting and managing the best people while balancing the need for diversity. At TeamFit, everyone who joins the company is asked to do their Belbin team role assessment. The mapping of our respective Belbin roles shows us where we need to bring in team personality types to strengthen our team.

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This map shows us that TeamFit needs more implementers, people who can translate ideas into actions and organizes work that needs to be done. Given the nature of our current business it is not surprising that we have a large number of plants: creative, imaginative and free thinkers who can generate ideas to solve difficult problems. But as we grow we need to mix in other skill sets.

Another map shows our average score across roles:

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The diversity an organization seeks is dependent on the organization. These maps give indication of where you are and can help set the course of what you need to get.

Draw me a Picture

Insight should be presented in a picture. Cartography is not just about making maps. Its purpose is to communicate data and meaning in a visual way. See Penn State’s Geography 486: Cartography and Visualization for some good content on the subject. In mapmaking a cartographer can produce different maps from the same dataset depending on how the map is going to be used.

Many of the senior leaders in firms we have spoken with are looking to identify trends as they relate to skills. What if there was a way to forecast whether a team can be successful in a particular project? “Can TeamFit be used to assess a current team, and forecast their likelihood of succeeding?” A solution is to provide a better understanding of “what if” scenarios as you consider different combinations of people for your project teams. Using the TeamBuilder module, gives me a good picture of the team we could put together for go-to-market execution. For this team, I have identified three roles with associated skills. The roles are sales, business development and go-to-market strategist.

Starting with sales, I wanted a person who can perform at a solid level in professional services, sales process and sales. I also wanted to select an internal resource for this role. Based on the criteria of my project, Roger’s TeamMatch™ scores the highest. I pin him for the role of sales.

Roger

Notice that the overall TeamFit™ score is only at 26% because I have two other roles to fill. For overall business development, I use the affiliated search to include not only internal resources but also people who have worked on TeamFit projects before. I come up in the results and I pin myself, increasing the TeamFit™ score to 54%.

Karen

The last role I will add is the go-to-market strategist. I will add Steven to this role. Our TeamFit™ score is now at 82% giving us a good chance of succeeding with this team.

Steven

Knowing that Steven has priorities elsewhere I experiment by selecting Kirk, our advisor, for this team instead. Our TeamFit™ score now sits at 75%, which is still pretty good.

Kirk

Mapping Skills

Robert Manduca, a PhD student at Harvard created this map of jobs in America by industry based on the 2010 census data. Imagine if we had the ability to map skills associated with these jobs or to see skills across geography. And then that we could see how this changes over time. We would be able to see where certain skills are centered and how different cities and industries are developing their skills. This is the vision for TeamFit.

Start with Your Skills and Your Company’s and Try TeamFit

Individuals sign up here for free.

Companies, contact us to learn how we can help you make sure you have the skills to deliver on your strategy.

Top image is from Norman Bleventhal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/normanbleventhalmapcenter/2709981627