CoTech Hack 2018/Skills mapping

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Skills mapping activity

Day 1

User stories

We started with a kind of user stories exercise, for requirements gathering for any kind of skills map (or whatever one wants to call it), using post-its in three columns.

Here's roughly what we got, transcribed from the post-its with a little normalisation:

As a … I want to … So that …
panicking project owner quickly find the best BDA I can get my site back up
client know who I can hire by the hour / this week I can hire them
business manager find 2 days work per week for a designer
dev / BD person see real-life examples of work I know they can do what they say they can
BD find an organisation they can help us pitch for a project
BD find a specific tech skill I have the necessary skills for my team
volunteer project leader see who is looking for volunteer projects I can contact people for my project
over-committed developer find someone to do my work I don't get exhausted
developer ask for specialist help I can complete a difficult task in a technology I don't understand
potential client find a suitable co-op I can get my tech project done
mentor find a mentee
visionary people to work on my vision we have a demo prototype to inspire others
person forming a team to know who likes working with each other I can create a team that already knows how to work together
person finding their way find a mentor I can develop my skills
project manager find a new team member we can cope with an unexpected leave
potential collaborator have peer-review capacity I can verify how competent people are

Are we looking for individuals or organisations? Organisations already have a way of recording their skill areas on the CoTech site. We agreed the emphasis for this hack was on individuals.

Agreeing skills descriptions

Then we went in to an exercise to describe the skills we have, towards agreeing common terminology

  1. Start by writing a list of your own skills (however you want)
  2. team up into pairs, and explain your skills to the other person so they understand; change terminology to one that makes sense to both people
  3. join the pairs into foursomes, getting the other person in your pair to explain your skills to the other pair.

The original idea was then to divide into teams to tackle the different kinds of skill, but this didn't happen. Originally, there were three types of skills to consider:

  • the usual technical skills
  • technical skills in using collaborative tools
  • "soft" skills of various kinds

This didn't seem to catch on.

One big question that came up was, what would the Happydev system do, and would that be enough? Some time and energy was put into this. At present, the Happydev site allows individuals to list their "competences" (the word works in French and English). This is similar to how short CVs tend to work at present. One can imagine the way this works: a potential client browses through the people, sees some skills of interest, and gets in touch with the person to find out more about their level of experience or expertise.

Currently, there is no simple facility to list everyone with a particular skill, partly because the terms used for skills are not at all controlled. As always, this provokes discussion about the relative merits of taxonomies and folksonomies, with no clear agreement at the end.

Day 2

It wasn't immediately feasible to integrate with HappyDev's site, though this might be done later, as it didn't give us the detail that we thought was relevant, at this stage, and we weren't up to coding the details here and now. Maybe the work here will contribute to their development.

Eventually, we came to an agreement about what would be most helpful in terms of a prototype spreadsheet documenting individuals' skills across CoTech. Here are some essential characteristics of this sheet.

  • The People sheet has a list of individuals with their username from the forum if they have one.
  • The PeopleSkills sheet has one row for every person skill. The individual appears on as many rows as they have skills. Initially, the skill labels are unconstrained text. If the person feels it is not clear what the skill label might mean, she can explain it in the notes column.
  • There are two columns with numeric entries for "ability" and "willingness", in which people are invited to give a number between 0 and 100. Rough guides for numbers are given separately on the PeopleSkillsKey sheet, to make it easier to flip back and forth when entering numbers.

A few of us, including Polly and Simon, then went around soliciting entries for the sheet. This Google Sheet is the main tangible outcome of the hack.

Follow-up and development

I suggest we start a new page for this

It was recognised that this contains personal information, therefore we need to be clear about people's consent to be listed on a sheet that is potentially accessible by anyone with the link, though we will not publicise the link. Please ask Simon Grant of Cetis LLP or Rory Scott of open data services for access to the Google Sheet.

The initial aim is to have one person in each CoTech co-op asking their colleagues to fill in the sheet.

The follow-up proposed, detailed below, is:

  • find one person in each co-op to be the link person, and have edit rights on the sheet
  • fill in the sheet for as many people in each co-op as willing
  • connect up people with similar skills to agree terminology and harmonise their ability ratings

Connecting with each co-op

Suggested: that one person from each co-op agrees to be the point of contact for that co-op's skills

Bottom-up harmonisation

  • People with similar skills to meet up (probably virtually) and
    • harmonise the terminology
    • level up the skills numbers so that all agree that the ordering of skill is consistent