Hard data about soft skills

We now have new technology to reliably measure soft skills

Personality tests are based on outdated methods and are not enough for modern organisations

We believe entrepreneurs have higher highs and lower lows when it comes to business and feelings.

Standard personality tests have been used to help assess work and team dynamics for a few decades. Empathy and emotional intelligence has been a hot topic since the launch of the book of the same name by Daniel Goleman in 1995. Many organisations have used this concept to redesign the way they think about work.

However, these survey based methods of measuring soft skills and human dynamics are hard to scale and cannot give us real-time data and insights.

We now have new technology to reliably measure soft skills. This MIT researcher thinks that combining the analytic power of multiple devices could alert users to mood changes before they’re consciously aware of them.

It is said that we only use 10% of our brain. I would rephrase that to say our brain uses 10% of itself for brain activities but uses the other 90% for non-brain activities. For example, when we say gut decision, it’s not that the gut makes the decision but it’s the feelings in the gut sensed by the brain that are giving us a signal. Or it does so through hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis if you want to sound smart.

What if we could reliably model and measure our mood and gut feelings and be smarter in our decision making as a result?

Why this matters to entrepreneurs

In our quest to empower entrepreneurs we always look for what’s hindering their growth. If we can remove barriers to their full energy flow, they’ll do the hard job of creating exponential value. A big barrier to full energy flow is team burn out. Two of our portfolio companies are struggling with this very issue right now. Getting an early indication that an entrepreneur is heading for a burn out is quite valuable. We could dedicate more time and energy to them at the right time.

Team essentially means human connections. The art of organising exceptional teams in productive ways is what successful entrepreneurs master. The good news is that some of the world’s smartest people have been working to build a science out of this art. We’re just applying it to venture investing and entrepreneurship.

The experiment

In order to measure soft skills, we started an internal experiment. We measure communication and emotional literacy. By collecting email, messenger, calendar and survey data we plot communication against team feelings and decide how to tune our teams.

Team feelings heatmap measured in meetings
Feelings and team communication data measured over time

We ask ourselves “are emotions a direct cause of our behaviour or are they the feedback?” It seems academic studies are still not conclusive about answers to this question.

Request for collaboration

We designed this experiment to find answers and learn more about ourselves and the entrepreneurs we invest in. As our current data is insufficient to draw meaningful conclusions, we’re working towards equipping ourselves and our office with sensors and software that can provide us with much richer data about soft skills. We’re also in discussions to include an accelerator in our studies which will add 80 people to our study. We will slowly open this experiment to startups in the community and expand from there.

Our product objective is to build a Digital Entrepreneur Coach to improve an entrepreneur’s experience in real-time.

If you’re interested to hear more or have ideas you’d like to share with us, feel free to comment, email us or drop by.

This is the twenty first in a series of posts about our investment criteria and ecosystem resources which was also posted LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from teams with crazy (but commercial) startups. If you’re looking for funding don’t forget to get your IV Score to prepare for your next VC meeting. If you’re funded and are looking for coaching, start here.

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Mohsen Khalkhali

Mohsen Khalkhali

Humbled by #PaleBlueDot. Proud supporter of Iranian entrepreneurs @gex_vc