You will note that everything I have talked about so far, in the progression
from the gap into levels 1-3 involved action. Our learning is kinetic (active;
application). There are measurable indicators along the way that you can use to
track your progress. They are all moving you toward the top-right end of the model,
which may offer different results for different people. For myself, in this driving
example, I went through the progression, and at Competence, I was driving everything
from motorcycles to off-road rally cars, to racecars. Performance in this progression
meant winning races.
Yes, that's me at right,
on a Victory Lap at Seattle International Raceway, in 1978.
This was amateur sports car racing, on the West Coast, setting lap records
on every track I raced, and winning every race in my last three years. You can
see why I focus on performance, and why I understand the ingredients and actions
needed to achieve it in racecars, and in projects. While few everyday drivers
achieve full Competence, even fewer achieve winning levels of performance
and the same is true with projects.
Beyond the driving analogy, my experience in business is that, for projects,
the progression from Skills to Attitudes mastery offers a 2x-4x increase in results;
another 2x-4x when you move from Attitudes to Competence mastery; and again, another
2x-4x when you progress from Competence to winning levels of Performance. Recall
that I cited the driver's manual exam and learners permit as a Knowledge-based
achievement. Would you rather have a Knowledge talent level 3 for all of
your project and program managers, or a full assessment of Competence, level 4?
Of course, winning levels of project and program performance would be even better!
Talent Management and Competitive Advantage
The reader can clearly see the benefits of the closely held competitive advantage
of those enterprises that applied these insights. And, as professional associations
poll executives about what is needed to improve delivery of business success through
projects, the rest of the world is now catching on to those secrets. That's great!
Let us look at several aspects of implementing this scoring of the levels of Talent
The ideal project
team scores at the maximum in each Talent Area, as shown below. It does so with
members who are at the needed Competent or Performing levels for each element
in each Talent Area-I showed examples of those elements in the Acquisition section.
You can see how difficult this can be in a small project team, which is another
reason why "lean teams," a scourge and management malpractice for decades, is
such a poor idea.
Team members with the appropriate talent in their disciplines are the "secret
sauce" to successfully delivering the project. Yet each project is as successful
as its lowest Talent Area Score. If, for example, your Product Talent score is
only 2 (Skill), who wins? No one! So we continue to hear that X% for each
billion dollars spent on projects is wasted.