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How to avoid the ‘competency trap’

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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How to avoid the ‘competency trap’

How to avoid the ‘competency trap’

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

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Scenario planning

It aims to define your critical uncertainties and develop plausible scenarios in order to discuss the impacts and the responses to give for each one of them. If you are aware of what could h...

How to use scenario planning
  1. Identify your driving forces: the big shifts in society, economics, technology and politics in the future and see how it will affect your company.
  2. Identify your critical uncertainties: pick 1-2 of the driving forces (with the most impact).
  3. Develop a range of plausible scenarios: Form a kind of matrix with your two critical uncertainties as axis and depending on what direction each of the uncertainties will take, you are now able to draw four possible scenarios for the future.
  4. Discuss the implications: discuss the various implications and impacts of each scenario and start to reconsider your strategy: set your mission and your goals while taking into account every scenario.
Some pitfalls to avoid

  • Don't fall into the trap is to be paralyzed by the multitude of possibilities. Keep it simple and focus on two major uncertainties.
  • Don't believe that you have to choose one particular scenario and build your strategy around it. Scenario planning is not about choosing just one option for the future but rather dealing with all of the possible outcomes to develop a strategy that will stand the test of all scenarios.
  • When developing your different scenarios, try to not look at the short term. Do not hesitate to look far ahead, anticipating what the market and competitors are going to be over the next years. 

Metric Fixation

Metric Fixation, an epidemic in most of the world's biggest companies is a way to measure employee performance primarily by numbers, counted, tallied, compiled and analyzed in daily, weekly or mont...

Incentivizing Leads to Gaming

The rewards of the metric performance measurement can be as a form of a monetary bonus, stocks or just an enhanced grade or designation, leading to competition among employees. This leads to many employees gaming the system to affect the bottom line of their metrics.

Example: Surgeons can refuse to treat patients having a complicated condition, as it may affect their failure rate.

Ignoring Real Values

Metric fixation can make employees ignore the real values and goals of the company and focus on their short-term weekly or monthly goals so that they keep their jobs, get a pay raise or have their stock options out at the right time.

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The lifelong passport

Nowadays, everybody is aware of the importance a university diploma has for one's future. However, the fact that learning goes beyond the five years spent at university is just started to be taken ...

Learning practical skills

Subjects like maths and physics provide you with an appropriate base for lifelong learning. 

Another major component of this process refers to the high importance of learning through projects, which eventually enables students to gather up practical skills, that can easily be kept and improved throughout their life.

Advantages and disadvantages of lifelong learning

While resorting to lifelong learning may provide some advantages, such as enabling individuals of different ages and professional experience levels to share their knowledge, it also has certain disadvantages like the fact that the time the learners are supposed to devote to learning is decreasing the moments spent with their family.

The online job application process
The online job application process

Online applications can take hours of candidates' time when applying for a job. While some firms are moving away from these online systems, many companies move towards them.

A recen...

Most companies rely on ATS
  • With newer platforms, applicants have the option of using their LinkedIn profile instead of a CV. But they may still encounter customised questions that will require a significant investment of time.
  • LinkedIn's Easy Apply button on job listings allows candidates to submit their profiles without additional materials.
  • However, the majority of New York-based positions listed on LinkedIn rely on external ATS (Applicant tracking system) to manage applications.
ATS systems are not human friendly

What serves the employer well may not work for the prospective employee.

  • According to a survey, 60% of candidates may give up on an application if it's too long or complicated.
  • A cumbersome application process likely indicates the company's attitude towards its employees or overall culture.
  • It is a dispiriting process as even seasoned applicants receive a response only 5% of the time.

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Looking locally first

Because of social distancing, many companies are pulling back on national or global advertising. They started limiting their geographic search and are now looking locally first.
This could be go...

Adapting the interview process

Face-to-face interviews are not really possible and recommended anymore, and everybody’s been replacing them with their video equivalent.
How a company adapts its interview process can be a preview to its culture: by accommodating different comfort levels, companies aren’t just saying they have a good culture; they’re showing it.

New onboarding process

The onboarding process for newly hired candidates is becoming virtual, too. 

You need to offer plenty of resources and information, with scheduled conversations through video. You need to introduce a routine into their lives.

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