Chapter 11: Part 3 – From Left to Right

So how do we cultivate both abilities? Faced with the problem of talent cultivation. The traditional human resources department mainly relies on two methods. One way is to train employees. Objectively speaking, training has some value. But in fact, just one or two trainings cannot change people’s behavior. In traditional corporate training, the lecturer teaches in the classroom with flying eyebrows and wide references. Students often listen with great interest and are quite touched and even surging with emotion. But when they return to the office, these new knowledge and methods will soon be shelved after a while. Why is it difficult for traditional training to truly change employee behavior? The reason is that on the one hand behavior change requires an environment; if the organizational environment in which people are located does not change, behavior will not change. On the other hand, behavior change is essentially a process of forming new habits while eliminating old habits. It cannot be solved by one or two trainings; it is a continuous driving process.

As a result, some companies will also try to solve this problem by designing so-called “competency models.” A “competency model” refers to the overall set of knowledge and skills required for work. In the field of human resources, it is usually used for recruiting, training and evaluating employees.

In many companies, improving the “competency model” is an important function of human resources managers. This work is based on an assumption that if we have a “correct” competency model, we can recruit employees based on it or train and train employees according to this “standard” competency model. But this is just an “assumption.”

The “competency model” is a tool and like any tool it also has its own scope of application. Especially in human resource management work its boundaries are actually very narrow. The “competency model” is only suitable for use in junior simple and stable job positions. The premise for using a “competency model” in an enterprise is that we can analyze and decompose the knowledge and abilities required for a position and recruit train and evaluate employees accordingly. However these prerequisites are often not met.

First today’s enterprises are in an external environment of turbulence and change; customer needs competitors and technology are changing rapidly. This leads to constant changes in many positions facing business; business will require employees’ knowledge and abilities to change accordingly. For example software engineers need to develop projects that may be constantly changing while the development languages and development tools they use are also constantly being updated. Their required knowledge and abilities are always in a state of dynamic change. If we only require “programming” in the software engineer’s competency model it is obviously too broad. But if you specify which programming language which version of development tools will soon become obsolete again. And the biggest problem is that when we formulate competency models we don’t know what programming language we actually need for business one year later. The competency model as a whole is a static standard; it takes time and effort to formulate but has a short shelf life; it can even be said that in innovative enterprises the competency model prepares a coachman for driving a car; therefore for disruptive innovation-oriented right-brained organizations our business changes frequently at this time developing competency models has a very low return on investment.

Second ability is a multi-level concept for enterprises including organizational ability team ability and individual ability; today for many innovative projects organizational victory depends on team ability; team ability is composite ability; individuals cannot become all-rounders; for example during innovative product development often requires a cross-functional team; in this case building an individual-based job competency model is meaningless.

Finally, more importantly, a “competency model” printed on paper has no intrinsic meaning. Only when it can be used to evaluate employee abilities does it have practical significance. But abilities are difficult to evaluate, especially high-level, composite abilities such as innovation ability. Mo Yan is a Nobel laureate in literature and his literary ability is beyond doubt. But if he takes the Chinese college entrance examination, can he definitely get high scores? It’s hard to say. Are there any other good quantitative testing methods to evaluate the Chinese language abilities of literary giants like Mo Yan? It’s probably hard to find. In fact, the Nobel Prize in Literature is not obtained through exams. Abilities are difficult to evaluate based on standards at one time. The higher the level and the more complex the ability, the more so. And in innovation, we use exactly this kind of ability.

That is to say, using competency models in innovative enterprises may not only be a waste of resources, but also exclude truly suitable talents. The standard is wrong and the result is naturally wrong. We will pick the wrong people and even drive away real innovators!

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