One of the most intriguing aspects of the Mathematical Theory of Communication is the fact that the more information is added to the message, the less informative message becomes. It sounds a bit strange, but if you think about it, it is not. The main reason behind for this is the simple fact that in most cases we already know a lot regardless of what information we are discussing. If you take apart any sentence, I bet you will be able to eliminate several words and still make sense out of the message.
In his book, “The laws of simplicity,” John Maeda makes this number 10 on his list: “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful“. It’s a wonderful book everyone should read. How do the Laws of Simplicity translate into skill and expertise management?
If you look at any skill on TeamFit, our platform shows related skills. For instance, let’s look at Ruby on Rails. What would you expect to see? Will you be surprised if Database Design, AngularJS, and JQuery are listed among related skills? No, not really. These are often used together, at least by the teams currently on TeamFit. But if you see Presentations, Active Listening, or Game Theory this is different. You may ask what Active Listening has to do with AngularJS? Is this a mistake in the database? No, it is not.
The simple answer is that TeamFit builds a record of relationships between skills. If a person who claimed a skill claims another skill on the same project a connection is made. There is a chance that a person who has Ruby on Rails also claimed Presentations for the same project. It could be a simple coincidence. But if several people who claimed Ruby also claim Presentations it becomes a pattern. This is informative. It is new and different.
When we move up a level, and instead of looking at relationships between skills on a personal level, we apply this logic to the skills used on projects, there are quite a few interesting facts to discover. Depending on the type of project, we will see a number of skills that will not surprise us. Simply put, without those skills, the team will not be able to complete the assignment. TeamFit helps to make sure these are visible. But what about the “other” skills claimed in the context of a project? Can we discover any patterns? Are there any relationships between the success of a project, its nature and the number of skills that is not obvious?
These days we put a lot of emphasis on excellence in a very narrow subset of our overall skill set. In order to win projects, the complexity of assignments requires consultants to master their core set of skills at a very high level but this focus and specialization may not capture all of the skills needed for excellence.
In a speech at MIT, Dr. Vannevar Bush said:
“In these days, when there is a tendency to specialize so closely, it is well for us to be reminded that the possibilities of being at once a broad and deep did not pass with Leonardo da Vinci or even Benjamin Franklin … we are bound to be impressed with the tendency of strikingly capable minds to be interested in a one small corner of the universe … it is unfortunate when a brilliant and creative mind insists upon living in a modern monastic cell.”
Bush had a deep conviction that specialization was the death of genius. Are we all so focused now that we simply forget the many skills, layer after layer that create our own personality?
Every person I spoke with about their skills had difficulties to come up with a comprehensive list that would present their true skill portrait. Apart from a few obvious things, we don’t really pay attention to the whole array of skills that we have, and to their impact on our professional and private lives. We have created TeamFit to help you to uncover, understand and manage your skills. You will be surprised how complex your skill map becomes just by typing a few words about yourself in our Advanced Search or by uploading your résumé.
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