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How to avoid the ‘competency trap’

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200608-what-is-the-competency-trap

bbc.com

How to avoid the ‘competency trap’
Previous successes can stand in the way of new opportunities – and even lead to failures with big price tags.

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The Competency Trap

The Competency Trap

The company having the original PC technology back in the 70s was Xerox. This was a time when their photocopiers were a worldwide hit, and even their brand name ‘Xerox’ was used as a verb. They had a research centre to develop new technologies, where they invented the PC (similar to what we see even today) and a graphical word processor. But even after inventing futuristic products, which were inspirations for what Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did for the computing industry, Xerox failed to capitalize or commercialize them.

Past success and entrenched expertise prevented the pioneers of great technology to deal with a changing, uncertain and fast-moving market. Xerox forgot to grow, evolve, stay nimble and keep an eye out for the changing market dynamics.

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The Problem Of Success

Successful organizations start having rigid corporate cultures, which crumble when the outside world evolves, which is always inevitable.

The rules and assumptions that companies operate on, become embedded, making the employees blinded from any potential future innovations.

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The Sunk-Cost Bias

... is a reluctance to give up on the past spendings and investments made on projects or products that are no longer providing any return.

The managers are usually unable to make strong decisions and keep adding costs to failed (or about to fail) projects.

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Failing To See The Future

  • AT&T invented the telephone and began working on mobile communication as early as the 1940s, yet it was Motorola which eventually created the first hand-held cell phones for the mass market.
  • Kotak, the film company, had a digital camera sensor ready in the 80s, yet chose to continue focusing on film and film-related products, as it was the cash cow of that time.

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The Competency Trap: Lessons

  • Companies which have the potential for falling in the competency trap may require an overhaul.
  • Old-school managers who are blinded from future innovations need to be updated.
  • Employees and managers should work within the research and development departments for some time to help them let go of their cognitive rigidity.
  • Freshers and junior employees have innovative viewpoints and need to be heard by senior management.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is gu..."

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Skills Needed In Digital Leaders

  • Work together, complement each other, and function as a team.
  • Able to operate on and enable environments that are more dynamic, team-centric, and connected.
  • Lead and build teams and partner with the broader ecosystems, keep people connected and engaged, and drive a culture of innovation, learning, and continuous improvement.
  • Lead a workforce that includes contractors, the contingent workforce, and crowd talent.
  • Understand how different business functions, industries, and technologies come together to form solutions.
  • Comfortable and competent with risk-taking.

Demographics And Leadership Destiny

Millennials expect to be developed via opportunities, mentoring, and stretch assignments. However that is hard to come by in top-heavy companies. 

Most millennials think their roles provide little development while most companies report they have excellent or adequate programs for Millennials.

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The Competency Trap

The Competency Trap

Many people fall into the competency trap, which is the assumption that their established principles and mental models, that have served them all these years, will be sufficient in...

When Core Competencies Become Core Rigidities

  • When we overcommit to our core competencies they become our only reality.
  • We start to see the business world outside with the same internal view that has been harnessed for so many years when we strengthened and relied on the same skills.
  • We strive hard to attain mastery in our core skills, but forget to incorporate other skills, habits and mental models that are required for us to thrive in the future.

The Importance Of Disrupting Yourself

  • One must continuously learn new alternatives, skills and approaches to work and nurture one’s innovative spirit, becoming a competitor to oneself.
  • One has to look for gaps, areas of improvement and new market realities.
  • One must invest time, money, energy and attention towards new methods, techniques and tools that help us innovate, reinvent and upgrade ourselves.
  • One can take time to analyze one’s life and career, reviewing and reflecting on the strategies that are incorporated to improve oneself.

Remote Employees

Remote Employees

It’s hard to figure out for managers what kind of people make the best, most productive remote employees.

Optimism is the quality to look for, while the trait to avoid is people-pleasin...

Optimists

Self-motivation is a great quality for remote workers, as they are at home, only accessible through email or through video conferencing to the manager.

High levels of enthusiasm, a positive approach and choice of words provide clues to the manager if someone has an optimistic frame of mind.

People Pleasers

If a manager is getting to hear only what is pleasant to hear, at all times, it can be a cause for concern. Remote employees must be willing to say things that aren’t going right, and most of the time, there are many such things. If they can disagree with you, it’s a good sign.

Also, if an employee is going out of the way to be liked by colleagues, and wastes a lot of time and mental energy on it, he/she is probably a people pleaser.