The Magic Behind Capability Development In Organizations



This piece has a rich title for a reason. When the Scythian nomads wondered about the Eurasian steppe, some Europeans described them as ‘mages’, or magicians. Was it truly magic they wielded?


In the current sense of the word, magic describes a phenomenon that we do not understand. Then, it’s obvious that industry-leading organizations are simply doing something we do not YET understand.


As we explain in the Creativity & Discipline stage of the ACM model, there is no magic.


Capability development is a broad term. If we refer back to our visual model of innovative potential, we can see that the collective creative freedom of each individual amounts to the creative freedom of the company and vice-versa.


To create a risk-tolerant space for such freedom, an organization must empower key managers and executives to assemble a set of practical capability development tools.


These tools have a very simple task. To support teams and employees in maintaining an active problem-solving mindset, all the while prioritizing the macro and micro-goals set in previous strategy cycles.


Why Do Workshops Fall Short In Improving Capability & Performance?


To understand the reason for the failure of expensive, carefully crafted workshops, we must understand the key elements of success in leadership training and coaching. After all, each employee must be a leader and led by a leader who sets an example.


Have you ever been to a leadership or training workshop that encourages the participants to consume? Yes, consume. One can barely call such an event a workshop where attendees react by serial yawns, anticipating the next coffee break. Not so carefully crafted then, right?


This brings us to a common symptom of poor capability training: Engagement.


Lack Of Engagement Means No Real Learning


By ‘real learning’ we mean practice. Have you ever tried to learn a strategy game, or even a semi-complex card game in theory, without actually playing it?


It’s difficult, unnecessarily so. Unfortunately, most of us have been taught to learn the majority of our skills in theory and to apply the same patchy theoretical knowledge to practical matters they bear little resemblance to.


Why should we make the same mistake in a workshop?


This is why the key to engagement in a coaching workshop is applicable feedback. In fact, the entire concept of coaching is based on applicable feedback, where the trainer works with the trainee to learn a skill in a practical manner -- physical or mental.


With respect to the hundreds and thousands of employees, organizations are required to train and nurture, such workshops may be difficult to organize without the right resource management strategy.


Then, effective and engaging capability development workshops in organizations need an architect that can execute a collective workshop design based on proactive problem solving and continuous feedback cycles.


What Is Good Feedback?


If we want to find 'good' feedback we need to find 'good' project management operations.


Every organization has a problem, which then multiplies and scatters into many incremental problems. Unless these problems are tracked and actioned, solutions barely see daylight, and people get sidetracked.


The goal of feedback, especially in a coaching session, is to shine light upon a recurring error that gets in the way of realizing a solution to the problem at hand. Let’s put it into perspective:


Shay’s role at her company of 300+ employees is to manage an eco-gardening team. This team has 15 members, of which five specialize in renewable technology design and architecture. The other ten team members work hands-on, creating outdoor and indoor gardens.


The company’s been losing out on eco-home contracts from wealthy private clients as their competitors have proved to be more competent. The competition completed better quality work in less time. Shay has endured this problem for over two months and her superiors are looking for a replacement.


In this instance, should you be the superior, would you also look for a replacement?


Or based on what we’ve discussed in the first half of this article, would you provide Shay with an opportunity to receive appropriate feedback? In fact, wouldn’t it make sense to perform a company-wide scan and find others like Shay who struggle with maintaining efficient team dynamics?


What's more, people like Shay are the core source for the first round of feedback -- feedback that travels bottom-up.


The Financial Incentives Of Strategic Capability Development


If the practical examples were not enough, let’s talk about money.


We’ve already established that the recruitment industry is worth over £40bn in the UK alone. Employee turnover rates and re-hiring are single-handedly the biggest HR waste, yet to be realized by the organizations that fuel the recruitment industry.


By re-allocating re-hiring funds to better quality training and capability development, organizations save newcomer training costs, ice-breaker efforts, and invest in existing relationships. Investing resources in such relationships strengthens the glue that binds current workflows and teams.


We still haven’t mentioned performance. To any executive who deems it resource-efficient to train a newcomer to adapt to the company culture and partake in a project that’s likely halfway through completion (and probably behind target), I propose this question.


If you invested the exact re-hiring amount and training time of a new employee into an existing one, would they be able to solve the problem which triggered the re-hiring procedure to take place?


Of course, it would. Just because your child falls off the bicycle on the first few tries, you don’t place them in a basket on Privet Drive and find another one to parent.


See For Yourself: How Much Have You Spent On Re-Hiring In The Past Year?


To conclude on a practical note, I invite any reader with access to a company’s re-hiring and newcomer training spend, or even a roughly forecasted budget, to answer the following questions.


If you don’t have access to company financials, we can answer these questions by using our imaginative faculty.


  1. What are the typical problems that trigger re-hiring in a company?

  2. What do these problems have in common?

  3. What is the average cost of re-hiring a front-line manager?

  4. Of that average cost, would the company be able to run a set of capability development training sessions for at least ten managers on the verge of departure?


In the next article, we’ll discuss ownership of goals and how it ties into a bottom-up management model.