• Evolve your competency framework

    by  • May 3, 2013 • OD and L&D • 0 Comments

    Evolving your competency framework - what can the next generation of competency frameworks look like?

    Evolving your competency framework – what can the next generation of competency frameworks look like?

    A chance encounter with some research and an old TED talk has sparked an idea – building a competency framework with gaming concepts. Sounds left-field? Maybe.

    Before you stop reading (for whatever pre-conception you may have about games and gaming), I challenge you to read this post to the end, and find out how you can put together a unique and truly special means of engaging your workforce while creating a great workplace that stands better chances of surviving turbulent times.

    A lot has been said (and is being said) about the benefits of gaming. (If you must, there is this article in Forbes, here’s another from VentureBeat, Microsoft Research has a dedicated department for it, there is also this lovely BBC item about 86 year old Hilda Knott who has been playing video games for 40 years). But beyond the conversation and science, I recently came across something that resonated with me deeply.

    This “thing” I came across was the 2010 TED talk of one of my favourite gaming thinkers, speakers and activists, Jane McGonigal. In her talk, she mentions the positive feedback we get when we play a game (referring to World of Warcraft), getting “Plus One”: Plus One Strength, Plus One Intelligence and so on. In games, (Be it WoW, Farmville, DrawSomething, Monopoly, Uno – anything!) we get immediate feedback for having successfully mastered a challenge. It immediately contributes to our capabilities, and as we build those up, we unlock features. That means we can do more.

    This is where I had a little light-bulb moment. Although “Plus One”ing and “ Levelling Up” are game-language, there is something in the corporate world that does JUST that. We call it a competency framework. It doesn’t matter if it is based on knowledge, experience, feedback (peer or supervisor) or any combination thereof. A competency framework links what someone needs to be able to know/do/show in order to perform, get promoted, get paid more, etc.

    To me, the parallels are clear: a competency framework describes what kind of traits and experiences I need to have in order to do well, get better and eventually get promoted. Every time I complete a course, get positive feedback from my supervisor or peers or meet an objective for my role, I “Plus One”. Eventually, I will “Level Up”, because I will know, do and show everything I need to in order to take the next step up.

    Why not capitalise on this? While I haven’t the scientific research to show that this is engaging (I haven’t this research because this was never done, as far as I can tell), I know that by having a game-like competency framework, you will have instantly made it more accessible and more transparent. I would also go as far as to suggest that this is fantastic means of engaging “Gen Z” and beyond – the young people of today who live online and breathe online games.

    If anything, it will do what a “spoonful of sugar” does, in Mary Poppins – Snap! The job’s a game.


    If you made it to this paragraph, you’ve met my initial challenge to keep reading. Well done! You’ve +2 consistency, +1 resilience and +1 sense of humour. Let me challenge you again – consider taking your competency framework a step forward on the evolutionary path. Meeting this challenge will gain you +20 innovation. It may gain you +5 crazy ideas, and it may also gain you +20 performance.

    It will also gain you a spoonful of sugar, too! If you would like to evolve your competency framework and “gamify” it, I’ll be working with you for free. So — what are you waiting for? Get in touch!

    Photo by mmagallan, via sxc.hu

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