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

 

I love Christmas. Some of my fondest memories are connected to Christmas Eve, and of course, the gifts that “magically” appeared under the tree. From a child’s perspective, it was the focal point of the evening. The moment when I was allowed to dive under the decorated branches and deliver all the neatly wrapped packages to all the recipients gathered around the table. It was always the youngest person who was granted the task of distributing the gifts. I remember the anxiety of finding something with my name on it—how big it will be, how heavy—but at the same time, the power allowing me to bring a package to my grandmother and see her smile as she always tried to be very, very careful with the wrapping and finally her eyes staring at me as if I was the one responsible for her gift. I think this was the most rewarding moment.

As I grew older, the newly acquired knowledge of how the gifts land under our Christmas tree did not remove any of the magic. In fact, it was more fun to plan and get organized than to receive something. I remember, the best gifts were those wrapped in brown paper bags that used to contain sugar of flower. Everyone knew that those came from our grandparents who insisted on re-purposing packaging. They were way ahead with their recycling approach. Those slightly shabby looking bags were rather heavy, and in most cases, they contained the most valuable gifts one can give – their artwork. Their sculptures. I still have all of them.

Seth Godin writes in Linchpin about the art of giving. He writes that art is such a valuable gift, but the art in his view is not only generated by artists. It can be anything, and indeed, it is not limited to material goods. And the act of giving does not need to be connected to any special moments – birthdays or Christmas. A plumber trying to fix a leaking pipe in such a way that the bathroom is not entirely ruined offers his art. Of course, he gets paid, but that’s another thing. What matters is the certain pride and quality that allows the work to be done in an exceptional way. Not to be paid for it, but just as a gift.

Quite often we rely so much on the fairness that is applied to the service or goods that we purchase. A fair price for an excellent service. You get what you pay for. It’s ok. It’s an exchange. But it misses a key component. The gifting aspect. It is a transaction while the art of giving is not based on an exchange, but on an idea that nothing is expected in return. It is just a gift, and the moment it becomes a gift gives the giver an extraordinary power.

It is the middle of summer and finding inspiration under the Christmas tree may seem far away, but let me return one more time to the snowy, cold evening, waiting for the first star to appear. Apart from those wrapped in old sugar bags, I remember gifts that carried more than merely what is captured by the physical object. Those that clearly implies that the giver must spend time thinking it through. A book that is exactly right or a hard to get, or a piece that completes a collection. The point was to know or at least have an attempt to understand someone to offer something meaningful.

Anyway, giving has a solid place in every society. Giving without expecting anything in return. Think Potlatch in the Pacific Northwest. What if we move away from the physical to digital. Digital gifts. Those do not require a similar effort to search for, purchase, prepare and finally deliver the gift. All you have to do is “click.” To like an article. Even less, the act of reading an article is enough – the result, an increasing number of views – it is a gift. Forwarding or re-twitting can also be experienced as gifts. Sending a link to a friend is a gift. Commenting. It costs us nothing. It’s a pure act of giving. Well, perhaps not exactly pure, as the activities are also recorded and as a result of “liking” something, the network will also learn about you.

When we designed TeamFit, the art of giving was one of the fundamental concepts that we wanted to explore. Since skills are our currency, our basic building blocks, the skills had to play a central role in the exchange of gifts. Of course, you can’t just give skills away. We wanted to explore the more meaningful option. The one that is based on our knowledge of a person. When you work with someone, you gain an inside view of the talents and skills of your co-worker. When someone claims a skill, first we ask to self-assess the skill level. Next, we provide an option to connect this skill to a project or multiple projects. Finally, when a skill is claimed, all members of the team receive the notification with a request to confirm it. This is a gift – a gift from TeamFit facilitating the exchange between the team members. In closing the loop, the system asks for confirmation of a skill claim including an option to agree or disagree on the demonstrated skill level. If both, the self-assessment and verification agree on the level of expertise, the newly added skill shows on the skill map in vibrant colours. If the self-assessment is not in agreement with the teams’ point of view, the platform shows you either over-estimate or under-estimate – a valuable reference for the team as well as the profile owner. You can also suggest a skill to another person. Many of us don’t realize what other people see as our skills. Being able to suggest a skill to a person is also a kind of gift.

Let’s end this post with a quote from Seth Godin: “You are not doing favours for people — you are giving them gifts.”