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Hello from San Diego and happy Fall to all! Here in San Diego, it still feels like summer as we have started with an unusually warm October! 

In this issue of the
Navigator,  we examine how we use competencies as a lens to understand and solve talent management problems.
Kurt Lewin, one of the founders of the OD movement, famously once stated "there is nothing more practical than a good theory." And the many good theories that he, and other famous social and industrial psychologists have postulated, still provide practitioners today with X-Ray vision when it comes to clearly seeing practical root causes to organizational problems. For example, some of the grand old men of organizational psychology, Herzberg, Maslow, Alderfer, and Hackman have all provided keen insight into motivation at work. And it may be true that Millennials are motivated by different factors than the Boomers that precede them, but their motivations are an inflection, not a categorical, difference still found in these classic theories. I'm lucky enough to have my own constant millennial focus group, my three sons, and as I've watched them in their very different worlds of work, all of their satisfactions and dissatisfactions can be explained by one of the classic factors proposed by these legendary contributors. From obvious dissatisfaction with pay, benefits, working conditions, or supervision, to rewards provided by the more subtle job ingredients (proposed by J. R. Hackman and G. R. Oldham), of meaning, variety, autonomy, identity, or feedback. Their complaints and satisfactions exist in these persistent theories.

After 40 years in the world of competencies (over the years also known as "dimensions, variables, and KSAO's"), we've experienced similar insights provided by the competency model concept as we tackle the challenges of leader selection and development. The most recurring insight is simply the headline hypothesis that you need a common language for defining leadership as the basis for any talent system. To paraphrase one of seven famous habits, you must begin your process to produce the ideal leader with the end in mind (i.e., defining the ideal) or you risk building a house of cards. And of course the best practice of defining competence with behavioral and performance indicators (versus motivations, attitudes, personality, beliefs, etc.) are another lens that often reveals why a selection or development system is unreliable or unproductive. The fact that there are 1,000's of tests in print measuring 100's of personality and other more elusive social constructs should be a clue to this competency advantage! This is a legacy contribution to the world of competency modeling from the assessment center movement that "discovered" more than 50 years ago that the most reliable way to measure potential was the simple adage that the best predictor of future behavior was past behavior.

A keen understanding of individual competencies, or competency clusters, similarly provides specific insights into individual leader success or failure. For example, in a recent coaching conversation with a manager struggling inside a three dimensional matrix organization it was easy to see what was needed through a competency lens. The more ambiguous, and frankly more political, nature of most matrix designs requires greater proficiency in the competencies of Influence, Relationship Building, Diplomacy, Initiative, Change Agility, and Assertiveness. So both strengths to leverage and possible opportunities for growth were quickly surfaced.

Thanks again to some of the classic contributors for this ability to zoom out to see problems clearly, and then zoom in to solve them!

© 2017 Organization Systems International
Welcome to the Newest Member of the Polaris® Family
OSI is pleased to announce Port of Portland as the newest member to the Polaris® license community.
Co-authored by our very own president/senior consultant, Bruce Griffiths, and our business partner, Enrique Washington. Competencies at Work is a thorough, yet digestible look at contemporary competency modeling. It will equip readers to understand, build, and implement competency models as a foundational and integrating element in talent management systems. Readers will understand how competency models have evolved to be the current best-pr actice in defining criteria for all talent management applications such as selection interviews, promotion panels, assessment centers, job descriptions, and learning objectives. The book also provides specific guidance in the steps needed to establish a sustainable model, with research results on universal competencies contained in most contemporary models.

Competencies at Work is available now through Business Expert Press or Amazon.
At Organization Systems International, we are celebrating over 37 years of quality, service, and innovation. We deliver client success with a high-performance approach designed to enhance occupational relationships, improve operational efficiency, and sustain customer relationships.

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