In the world of design or art for that matter, it is said that every decision you make matters. For a designer, the orientation of the document, size of margins, number of columns or placement of illustrations is critical. For a visual artist, the composition dictates how the space available on a canvas or piece of paper is going to affect the outcome. We can leave all the space “untouched” and use only a fraction to let’s say paint a little character in the corner. The brilliant “Think small” Volkswagen Beetle campaign from 1959 art directed by Helmut Krone and written by Julian Koenig is a perfect example of this concept. The amount of white space is actually more important than the character in the corner, in this case, the car. Here is the most interesting part. The perception is not only guided by how you see. It is the subliminal influence that will guide your emotions into “connecting” what you absorb. The self-depreciation, the fun that a company puts into its own campaign, communicates a terrific confidence and this will be saved in your memory.

There is enough evidence to say that as we go through our daily activities, we retain in our implicit memory almost everything that we are exposed to. It is a part of the implicit learning process. There are studies when research subjects were put under hypnosis (in the days when this was acceptable) and asked what they remember about a piece of advertising. When asked, people could recall just few details. Under hypnosis, they were able to recall almost everything about the 30 second commercial.

In other words, there are conscious processes that we are aware of when we interact with other people or are engaged in whatever we are doing. Then there is another layer of communication. Paul Watzlawick, therapist, psychologist, communications theorist, and philosopher, calls it “metacommunication.” Metacommunication is responsible for the emotional level of our interactions. In this case, everything matters. It’s not just about the interpersonal communication – everything that we absorb with all our senses gets saved. Watzlawick’s research suggests that “metacommunciation” is far more important in decision making then the explicit, verbal communication.

So how do we navigate our implicit memory? It’s like being on the open ocean. How you find your way? When you sail, GPS technology makes this really easy (at least when it works). We can follow a course by adding waypoints. We have a similar concept that works inside our brains – one may compare it to “bookmarks” or “tags.” These are the surface memories that we can attach to. At a lower level, Daniel Schacter’s “engrams”, the neural networks that allow our thoughts to be connected, are built up by connecting these mental waymarks of tags.

I have few questions for you: Why did you click on this blog post? Was it the top image? Did you immediately know that this is an old Volkswagen? Have you ever owned or driven an old Beetle? What memories came back? In my case, many years ago when I was at art school, there was a yellow beetle that I drove from time to time. It had a leaky roof and often required us to push it to start the engine, but I can recall many good moments associated with it. More importantly, in my subconscious there is a connection to being a young and happy student with life ahead of me. So, when I saw the first episode of “Once Upon a Time” and the car Emma Swan was driving, I immediately liked her character, not to mention the whole movie. Without any explicit thought, I formed a positive attitude towards this show.

At present, we are working to expand our experience model for skill evaluation. Everything matters. From the timestamp that each skill can be tagged with, to the projects a skill was used on and the people it was used with. Even the other skills that a skill is used with can tell us a lot. Each experience is a “container” for skills, but the experiences also works as a way finder – a marker or a beacon. Experiences are connected to people, places, roles and all sorts of projects and activities. When we accessing our implicit memories, our emotions will guide us through this ocean of information. On this journey, TeamFit helps you to identify and connect skills to the course you plot on your skill map. The cool thing is that it is the past that informs the future. After all, plotting a course is forward looking. Our skills can show us paths to our potential futures.

Contact us so that we can chart this voyage together.

Gregory Ronczewski leads the design of the TeamFit platform – view his profile on TeamFit