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3 Steps to simplify an existing capability model (competency model)

(Question posted by participant in Accelerating Learning Transfer webinar)

If you have a capability model (competency model) and you’re looking to modify it, because you feel like it is pretty comprehensive, here’s a good approach.   

1)      Take a step back and look at the model from a holistic approach.  Is it easy to consume?  By that I mean, do you have to read it, then re-read it to know what it means?  Or is it in easy to read language – the language of the people using it so they can know what great looks like?  Often we see a good capability model written in a way that is very academic.  The person who is writing it looks very smart, but the capability model itself cannot easily be consumed by the end user.  It should read as they speak.  It should state clearly what someone should be able to do. 

2)      Look at the model from a volume check.  The most successful capability models we’ve seen have between 25 – 40 tasks, a reasonable number for people to assess themselves against.  A capability model should describe what “great” looks like – not be a complete task analysis of everything they do (e.g., attending meetings, responding by email).  If you have more, you probably have tasks that are behavioral examples of other tasks.  If you can’t come up with behavioral examples (what it looks like to do that item at various levels of proficiency), it’s a behavioral example of something else (e.g., do you attend meetings well?).

3)      Look at the model as a professional in that role.  Are there things in it that are extraneous?  For example, do they include tasks that people may do, but are not critical to success in that role or may not be done by some at all?  And if so, would those really represent behaviors that high performers would do related to some other task based on something else they do? 

Follow these steps and you’ll maximum use and adoption of your capability model.


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