138. Plain vanilla skills matrices are basically useless
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In stark disagreement with my past self from episode 92, I don't think a regular old skills matrix is good for anything. Here's what I think we can do better.



Less than a year ago, back in December 2021, in episode 92 of this podcast I said the words “I actually really like the standard skills matrix, as long as it’s well-defined and regularly updated.” And I proposed adding a new feature in the form of laying out the bare minimum expectations that EVERY director needs to bring to the table. Just to, y’know, make sure that everyone actually brings at least the bare minimum in addition to their CV. Anyway, I’m here to say that I completely disagree with the December 2021 version of myself. Not only do I not ‘really like the standard skills matrix’ anymore, but I also don’t think that my proposed feature is sufficient to take a plain vanilla skills matrix from trash to treasure. If your skills matrix is going to actually help you to recruit a good group of directors, here’s the information I think it needs – at the very least – to be substantially useful. First, it needs skills – measurable stuff like “basic financial literacy” or “types at least 80wpm,” or “can hit a 95mph fastball”. Second, it needs professional expectations, like “has managed an organization with a $50m budget” or “has taught at least 1000 people how to surf.” Third, it needs those bare minimum things I mentioned before, like “is available to attend 24 meetings per year,” or “is fully caught up on OMG.” Fourth, it needs some indication of interpersonal aptitude, like “demonstrates willingness to change mind when presented with new information,” which can be tested in an interview.” Finally, it needs an indication of how many people on the board need each of those things. With those bare minimum things, for instance, EVERYONE needs those. But how many experienced surf instructors do you need? Is it one? Five? How many fast typists? How many seasoned executives? Put ALL of it in your skills matrix! Otherwise, how can you *really* assess your recruitment needs?

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