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Applying Capability Mapping and Matchmaking to Unlock Organizational Potential

Updated: Apr 9

TL;DR The article highlights the potential of capability mapping and matchmaking strategies to tackle the challenges faced by complex workplaces. These approaches aim to boost workforce productivity and innovation by deeply understanding and strategically deploying talent. Central to their success is the use of technologies such as AI and public professional profiles.

Capability mapping and matchmaking (M&M) can be applied as talent management strategies aimed at supporting complex workplaces where, for example, remote and hybrid work models blur traditional boundaries. The challenges these workplaces introduce—like fragmented communication, the underutilization of talent, and maintaining a cohesive company culture—are precisely some of the issues that these strategies aim to address.

Capability mapping is about taking a deep dive into your organization's talent pool. It's mapping out the skills, strengths, and potential across your team, but it goes beyond just listing qualifications. This approach seeks to give you a comprehensive view of what everyone brings to the table, helping you understand a broader spectrum of human capabilities within your organization.

Matchmaking, then, uses this rich information to align people with the opportunities where they can make the most impact. It's about placing the right person in the right role or team, ensuring that employees are engaged in work that matches their skills and growth ambitions. This not only optimizes your workforce's productivity but also boosts job satisfaction and engagement.

These strategies offer a solution to the siloed nature of modern work environments. By better understanding and strategically deploying your internal talent, you create a more connected, innovative, and dynamic workplace. The result? A culture where real collaboration can happen, innovation is nurtured, and employees feel more valued and understood.

Capability mapping and matchmaking can transform how organizations navigate talent management in an increasingly complex work landscape. They ensure that you're not just keeping pace but setting the pace, creating an environment where people and the business thrive together.


Challenges to Implement and Leverage Capability Mapping and Matchmaking

Despite their potential to boost talent management, capability mapping, and matchmaking haven't been widely adopted or even extensively discussed in many professional circles. The reasons boil down to a few core challenges that organizations face when trying to implement these strategies.

Firstly, there's the issue of data about employees—or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Most companies have some information on their employees, but it tends to be primarily surface-level, focusing on their current role within the organization. There's often little to no detail about their broader background, interests, previous roles, or education. This lack of depth makes it difficult to get a fuller picture of an employee's capabilities and potential contributions beyond their immediate job description.

Then, there's the challenge of dealing with unstructured data. Even when information about an employee's broader experiences and skills is available, it's often far from being easy to classify, and it is scattered across various platforms and formats. This data can also include sensitive personal information, adding layers of complexity around privacy and data protection that need to be navigated carefully.

Finally, analyzing this data and turning it into actionable insights presents another hurdle. It's not enough to simply have the data; organizations must be able to interpret it and present the results in ways that are easy to understand and act upon. This requires sophisticated analytical tools and a level of expertise that not all companies possess in-house. Moreover, making these insights accessible and useful for decision-making—whether it's for assembling teams, planning career paths, or identifying training needs—demands a combination of technological capability and organizational willpower that has been rare until recently.

These challenges have made capability mapping and matchmaking more of an ideal than a reality for many. However, with advancements in technology and a growing recognition of their value, there's increasing momentum towards overcoming these obstacles and unlocking the full potential of every individual within an organization.


A Path Towards Overcoming the Challenges

The integration of public professional profile data, advanced analytics (incl. Network Science), and artificial intelligence (AI) is able to pave the way for a new stage in capability mapping and matchmaking. These technologies can unlock possibilities that were previously out of reach, overcome traditional challenges, and transform how organizations understand and leverage their talent.

  • Public Professional Profile Data: Somehow surprisingly, the wealth of information available online provides a more nuanced and comprehensive view of an individual's career trajectory, skills, educational background, and interests than what is usually available within the closed corporate systems where an employee works. This publicly available data is a goldmine for organizations looking to deepen their understanding of their workforce beyond the confines of their internal records.

  • Advanced Analytics: With the right analytical tools, organizations can sift through vast amounts of unstructured data from public profiles and other sources, organizing it into meaningful patterns and insights. This process enables a more detailed and accurate capability mapping, identifying not just the skills employees have used in their current roles but also latent talents and interests that could be harnessed for future projects.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI takes capability mapping and matchmaking to the next level. Machine learning algorithms can analyze complex data sets to predict which employees might be the best fit for specific projects or roles, taking into account a wide range of factors, including past jobs, skill complementarity within teams, and professional trajectories. AI can also identify gaps in an organization's capabilities, suggesting areas for recruitment or employee development.

Together, these technologies offer a solution to the previously insurmountable challenges of data scarcity, unstructured data management, and the actionable presentation of insights. They allow for a dynamic and ongoing capability M&M process, where the full spectrum of an employee's potential can be recognized and utilized. This not only maximizes organizational efficiency and innovation but also enhances employee satisfaction and retention by aligning individuals' work with their skills and aspirations.


Application Areas that are Ripe for Capability Mapping and Matchmaking

Capability mapping and matchmaking can be targeted at addressing some chronic issues faced by large, knowledge-intensive enterprises: ineffective communication and collaboration, which create silos and limit synergy across teams. Some application areas that are particularly salient in this space include:

  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): One of the most challenging aspects of M&As is integrating two distinct corporate cultures and teams. Capability mapping and matchmaking play a crucial role in bridging these gaps, fostering connections that not only harmonize differing cultures but also accelerate the integration process. By understanding and aligning the skills and strengths of employees from both organizations, these strategies ensure a smoother transition and a unified workforce.

  • Onboarding: The onboarding process is pivotal in how new hires perceive their place within the company. Through capability mapping, organizations can gain insights into the unique backgrounds and skills of newcomers, facilitating their integration. Matchmaking then ensures these individuals are quickly connected with colleagues across departments, helping them feel engaged and part of the community from day one.

  • Talent Retention: In the face of growing challenges related to employee turnover, focusing on those most likely to leave becomes imperative. Capability mapping and matchmaking allow organizations to identify these individuals and create targeted actions to aid their development and integration, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment to the company.

  • Communities of Practice: The formation and nurturing of professional communities within the organization are vital for continuous learning and knowledge sharing. By identifying individuals with shared interests and expertise, capability mapping and matchmaking can establish strong networks of like-minded professionals, enhancing collaborative growth and innovation.

  • Diversity and Inclusion: A diverse and inclusive workplace is not just a moral imperative but a business one. These strategies help break down conversational silos and promote interactions across different backgrounds, ensuring every voice is heard and valued. This approach not only enriches the company culture but also drives innovation through diverse perspectives.

  • Collaboration for Innovation: The cross-pollination of ideas is essential for innovation. By connecting proactively or on-demand the right individuals from various departments and backgrounds, capability mapping and matchmaking spark unexpected collaborations, laying the groundwork for breakthrough ideas and solutions.


The Financial Impact of Capability Mapping and Matchmaking

Calculating the precise costs and benefits associated with capability mapping and matchmaking can be challenging. However, there is a general agreement that organizations often fail to fully utilize their workforce's potential. Considering that labor tends to be amongst the highest investments for organizations, it becomes evident how talent underutilization can be a significant financial burden.

To estimate the costs of underutilizing internal talent, we can start with a few telling insights from relevant industry reports:

  • SHRM Study: The Society for Human Resource Management found that the cost of replacing an employee can range from 1.5 to 2 times that employee's annual salary and that a turnover rate of close to 19% can be expected in many industries. Underutilization, leading to turnover, drives these costs significantly.

  • Gallup Workplace Study: Gallup's analysis revealed that a business unit with disengaged employees experiences:

    • 37% higher absenteeism

    • 49% more accidents

    • 60% more errors and defects

  • Study by Leadership IQ: Found that 46% of newly hired employees fail within 18 months, and of those, 89% fail due to attitudinal issues (often stemming from feeling underutilized or undervalued in their role).

  • Deloitte Study: Reports that only 5% of companies believe they fully understand their workforce's skills, making it highly likely many employees' talents go underutilized.

  • Harvard Business Review: Cites data suggesting that large percentages of employees feel their skills are being underused:

    • 60% of workers believe they're capable of more responsibility than their job gives them.

    • 70% feel they haven't reached their full potential at work.

A very conservative estimate indicates that we can reduce the 19% expected turnover rate by at least half a percentage point by integrating more efficient and effective capability mapping and matchmaking strategies. For an organization employing 500 individuals in knowledge-intensive roles, with an average gross salary of $80,000 USD per year per employee, this improvement in retention could translate into financial savings of about $300,000 USD (0.5% reduction X 1.5 times the annual salary of $80,000 X 500 employees).

This analysis solely focuses on the financial implications of improved retention rates and doesn't account for the additional benefits that capability mapping and matchmaking (M&M) might offer. These include reductions in absenteeism, decreased errors and defects, and a boost in overall productivity from more effectively utilized talent. Therefore, the actual value derived from implementing capability M&M strategies is likely to significantly exceed the above calculations.


What We're Bringing to the Table: Pattrnz

In mid-2023, guided by years of research and development in academia and related work in the industry—bolstered by VC funding from Magical Startups and support from Accelerace—we launched the development of Pattrnz. At this new startup, we are committed to making capability mapping and matchmaking in organizations much easier and more approachable.

Key to our efforts is building on R&D and previous projects from our co-founders and their collaborators. As a science-based tech startup, we believe it is essential to begin by translating foundational insights from network science, engineering management, and sociology into pragmatic solutions for organizations. Our goal is to present actionable AI-driven insights in a user-friendly format that doesn’t require advanced degrees to comprehend and can be implemented as a turnkey solution.

Our first solution in this journey starts with a descriptive view of the organization in the form of a Capability Mapping Dashboard focused on harnessing effortless talent insights from pre-existing public professional profiles. This tool moves beyond the traditional reliance on potentially incomplete intranet profiles, offering immediate, actionable insights. It presents a fully featured dashboard that simplifies the visualization of your capabilities, enabling strategic thinking without the time-consuming effort of building and maintaining dashboards from scratch. With a strong emphasis on privacy, it minimizes the need for sensitive internal data by primarily utilizing public profiles, supplemented only by necessary internal information when strictly necessary. This approach not only accelerates decision-making but also democratizes access to talent insights within your organization, fostering an agile work environment free from unnecessary data-gathering.

Our second solution, the AI Team Assembler, is more prescriptive in nature and focused on capability matchmaking between opportunities/challenges and individuals or teams. It can be described as a project booster that facilitates the identification and engagement of the best-suited individuals or the creation of diverse, multidisciplinary teams within your organization. This tool enhances internal recruitment and staffing processes by allowing for the effortless pinpointing of the perfect match for any project simply by inputting a project description.

This smart digital assistant ensures that the right people are involved from the outset, effectively preventing costly project delays and conflicts that arise from key stakeholders and necessary perspectives being overlooked. The AI Team Assembler empowers anyone within the organization to quickly identify colleagues who can assist with both major and minor challenges, fostering an agile work environment that eliminates bottlenecks and reduces the time spent on guesswork.

Our third solution, Pattrnz Meet, focuses on proactively fostering strategic face-to-face interactions to bridge knowledge gaps across different teams within an organization. This tool uses profiles from public professional data to facilitate meaningful, cross-functional conversations unlikely to occur by chance, aiming to boost the discovery and recognition of internal talent through targeted connections. Pattrnz Meet streamlines the process of initiating valuable discussions supporting organizational transformation with each new interaction.

These three solutions are just the beginning of our roadmap, which we are continually developing. We invite anyone interested in piloting them within your organization or with your clients to contact us. We're also eager to discuss potential new use cases, features, or co-development opportunities.

This is just the beginning of our journey. We have already planned a number of follow-up articles, white papers, and open demonstrations to share here. To stay in the loop, make sure to subscribe and follow us on LinkedIn.

More information about our free enterprise pilot program is available here.

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