Formal Skill Modeling

I think people should create a formal model of their knowledge portfolio and use this model to actively manage their knowledge and skill acquisition. This applies both to organizations and individuals. I could see this looking similar to the Thoughtworks technology radar. The skill model would have a list of skills and interests and how much knowledge one has in these. Experience could range from:

  • hearing about something
  • reading a book about it
  • knowing a similar technology
  • writing a Hello World program
  • doing a small project in an area
  • having years of experience doing something

I think there could also be a weighting as to how much the person feels like they know a particular area. Maybe they “read” a book but didn’t feel like it really sunk in. Perhaps they don’t know a particular technology, but have two good friends who are well versed in that technology and can help in a pinch or introduce them to people in that space. In this way, an overall view of what a person has done and may be capable of can be more easily assessed. Take for instance someone has not done much C# but has done a lot of Java development. By understanding that these technologies are similar, someone outside of the development field can understand that this person has a higher capability for C# than in, say, embedded development.

The model might best be represented by a visualization. It could be shown as graph sized by relative experience. A large bubble means more experience, and smaller bubbles represent less experience. I could see using software to make this visualization dynamic to visualize progress over time and enable different views and drilldowns. There could be a weakening aspect for experiences that were a long time ago to show knowledge decay or obsolescence. Imagine that you could see what someone’s knowledge in a subject has been for the past five years. If I have knowledge years ago in a technology that is moving super-fast, it might not be all that useful. However, many years of experience in a slow-moving environment is a good thing to know about. I feel like some sweet images would be really helpful to illustrate this, but I’m going to punt for now.

Seems like there should be something out there like this, but I haven’t seen much. I have seen nice views of resumes (mostly by designers) but nothing for the average person. Perhaps this is a tangent, but I think it would be cool.

This portfolio model helps people see what they should strategically target to move to where they want to be. When someone notices a difference between the experience they have and what they would like to do, they can choose to bone up in the space that they want to be more active in and more actively try to pursue projects in that area. Seeing a disconnect promotes a mindset change. Also, it helps people view their own competence objectively, and leverage that knowledge going forward. Hence, this model and accompanying visualization has value whether it is show in private or public. It could just be a strategic planning tool, but could also be a new way to understand what people are good at and trying to do.

It could be useful for consulting/contracting organizations to get a feel for what their levels of expertise are and how to most actively manage them. If more competence in an area is desired, specific steps can be taken to increase that area.

Could you see using something like this for your resume or for evaluating working with others?

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