Skilltype @ ALA Midwinter 2019: Taking the Road Less Travelled

In typical Skilltype fashion, our presence at ALA Midwinter 2019 in Seattle was non-traditional. Mainly because as a startup, exhibit hall real estate isn’t the most fiscally responsible investment. But also because brands that launch at ALA in the sea of vendors simply to fade into oblivion. Why spend all of that money to cross your fingers in hope that the right people stop by your “little booth that could”, when in actuality the people who stop by just want to know if you’re raffling off an Apple Watch.

So instead, I saved money, called up some friends, and connected the Skilltype way.

Thursday: Gonzaga Skilltype Kickoff

Icy sidewalk en route to Gonzaga’s Foley Library for their official Skilltype kickoff. January 23, 2019.

Icy sidewalk en route to Gonzaga’s Foley Library for their official Skilltype kickoff. January 23, 2019.

Over the course of the day, we had about 40-50 people from the library and various departments across campus such as Organizational Development and HR, Office of Diversity, and the office of research attend sessions to learn about the future of work, and how Skilltype can help prepare their organizations for 2030.

After the session, I flew back across the Cascades to Seattle, and started preparing for the weekend’s festivities.

Friday: Skilltype Happy Hour @ Amazon HQ

Waiting on our advisory board member at Amazon’s Oscar building. January 23, 2019.

Waiting on our advisory board member at Amazon’s Oscar building. January 23, 2019.

Being in Seattle, I tapped Skilltype advisory board member Julian to see what ideas he had about showing our development partners a special experience while in town. He got us passes to the Amazon Spheres - an alternative workspace for Amazon employees who need a creative boost during the week. The 5-story indoor rainforest was an inspiration of what the future of work could feel like.

Skilltype development partners touring Amazon Spheres. January 23, 2019.

Skilltype development partners touring Amazon Spheres. January 23, 2019.

After the tour ended, we met up with our beta testers and some new friends to kickback. This was one of the first times our development partners connected in this context. The energy around the Skilltype movement was tangible.

Skilltype dev partners connecting at happy hour. January 23, 2019.

Skilltype dev partners connecting at happy hour. January 23, 2019.

Skilltype community members connecting at happy hour. January 23, 2019.

Skilltype community members connecting at happy hour. January 23, 2019.

Saturday: Skilltype + BCALA

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Spent the afternoon with the BCALA delegation sharing my personal story in libraries and the road to Skilltype. Was very interesting to have my personal and professional identities converge since they usually don’t. I believe this is another tenet of the future of work - being able to bring your full self to the workplace. To model it was refreshing and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Sunday: Skilltype Product Update

Skilltype beta testers and working group members discussing our current roadmap. January 25, 2019.

Skilltype beta testers and working group members discussing our current roadmap. January 25, 2019.

On Sunday morning, we connected with our beta testers and working group leaders to get stuff done. One of the biggest decisions that came our of this talk was to approach Teams differently on the platform. Eleanor Cook commented on the difficulty of organizing department nomenclature across institutions to the platform. Every institution calls teams something different. Unlike other pieces of organizational data that are controlled with vocabularies, Bohyun Kim from recommended that other systems on campus do a good job at structuring groups of people. Skilltype can be the place where we can create ad-hoc, dynamic groups simply used for internal purposes. We immediately agreed and brought the idea back to the team to update the roadmap.

It was also interesting to have the current and previous heads of three separate professional associations in the room discussing Skilltype’s role in the professional association landscape. I’m really excited about where this conversation will go, as there seems to be a need for something more; something different.