Gregory Ronczewski is the Director of Product Design at TeamFit platform – view his profile on TeamFit
Top image: Airbus A350 XWB prototype 003 at Singapore Airshow, February 11, 2014, photo by Thor Jorgen Udvang

 

“Past performance is no longer a predictor of future success” – says Jane Basson, Chief of Staff to the CEO, Airbus Group – “who you are has become far more important than what you do. We need people who can pivot and learn new skills. We also need people who understand the importance of networks to getting things done in the digital age.”

This is interesting, as for the most of us experience in different roles is the way candidates for a new position are selected. During an interview, questions about work experience are the most common way companies find suitable candidates. It is not that these questions are irrelevant, they are relevant. But as we all see, given the speed with which the work environment is changing, it has become too limiting to focus on the past. I think a certain level of expertise is expected, but what counts is potential. This potential is often hidden in a traditional resume-based format.

A Burning Glass study cites a 53 percent increase over the past five years in the number of hybrid jobs. These are jobs asking for both technological and business acumen, such as product management and marketing analytics (from Neo generalist, the dawn of hybrid profiles published in business-digest.eu). How you find people with hybrid skill sets? It can be confusing. If you speak with someone, who has a Ph.D. in marine biology and is now looking into a leadership position in the communication department how are you to understand the combined skillset? Would you discard the application right away as not relevant based on the education? Well, in the conventional approach, probably yes. In many cases, the past may not be directly relevant or the best predictor of future contributions. You have to look beyond the visible. Having a Ph.D. alone means several things: research skills, critical thinking, accepting feedback, presentation and communication skills. So, perhaps, after all, a marine biologist working in the communication field could inject another layer of diversity to the team. As Jane Basson noted, it is more important who this person is than what she or he has done.

The first step a company needs to take towards satisfying hybrid-positions, and frankly any position for that matter, is to prepare an inventory of existing skills and required skills. This should be open and not restrictive as many new skills are emerging together with new ways to combine them. This alone will help to assess which roles can be combined, which are critical, which are new or rapidly evolving, and who is most suitable to create a bridge between positions. In the past, there was a powerful incentive to specialize in a narrow field. We still need these specialists, but a lot of them have much more to offer. Not only for the company’s benefit, but also for individual job satisfaction. If you challenge yourself to try a new role, it opens up many new ideas that a narrow, specialized view could not provide. There is a growing tendency inside forward-thinking organizations to support a movement within borders.

Without a systematic approach to understanding and monitoring skills, many of these progressive strategies will not work. At TeamFit, we have created our platform to address this very issue. We provide an evolving skill record that keeps track of current competencies, but more importantly, looks forward to potential skills and new ways of combining them. TeamFit analyses and suggests skills and goes beyond this to find skills that are complementary or skills that serve as connectors to open up another field. Our model constantly learns from our users. Based on skill profiles connected to specific roles and projects, we are creating a library of skill archetypes or patterns so that skill suggestions will be better aligned not just with a top layer of profile skills, but with a deeper layer of  potential skills and connections. Our goal is to help people and organizations use skills to support mobility and career growth. Already, a TeamFit user can organize skills into Core and Target groups. This shows aspirations and suggests a career path. For me, looking a the list of Target skills is far more valuable than the Core set. It shows me the thinking behind, the perspective and challenges lying ahead. It describes a character, something that plays a critical role in the future of work.

A few years ago, I wrote a post with a title So, what do you do? It was written from a designer’s perspective, but the idea was to find better answers to a question that often scares us so much. What do you do? I am not afraid to answer this anymore. I believe I belong to the neo-generalist category. I am an Architect, a Designer, an Artist, a Teacher, and now I am a Director of Product Design who is interested in Service Design and Psychology. I don’t have to narrow my career to just one path. In fact, it’s the opposite. I am constantly searching to find out what’s next for me. And here is the most interesting part – Design Thinking is the culprit. The skill that everyone talks about. I never thought about my work and use of this skill on almost everything I do. For the record, I don’t think there is a single skill called Design Thinking. In my view, there is a skill set called Design Thinking, or more accurately, several different skill sets. It is a methodology, a creative way to solve problems. It’s about making sketches, building models, trying things out. Less talking, more listening, and then doing. For instance, if you are looking to put new art on the wall? Take a photo of your living room, then “photoshop” the art on the wall, adjust the lighting et voila! I do believe we still need artists despite the robots starting to move into this role!

TeamFit is responsible for how I feel about my skills. It changed the way I see my career. We don’t think about our skills although we rely on them so much. It looks that in the future, with the advent of AI, robotics and automation, understanding of skills becomes a necessity.