Capability versus Competence

During the recent session of my leadership course the presenter (Karl) raised an interesting point regarding the under-recognition of Capability compared to Competence.

If you aren't familiar with this, consider the image on the left. For any Situation, there are known and unknown situations. Similarly there are known and unknown Problems. Our ability to deal with Known Problems in Known Situations is reflected in out Competency. When we are presented with an Unknown Problem in an Unknown Situation, it is our abilities that assist us. This is our Capability.

The problem is that Capability is both hard to define and hard to measure.

Many in industry want be able to put a "tick in the box" when it comes to a persons abilities. This usually results in competencies being essential. Like Karl, I feel Capability is under-valued due to the difficulty in measuring it.

This also fits with my long held belief that in the "People versus Process" equation, People stand out. Sure process ensures replicable results, however when the inevitable problem arises that the process doesn't address, having good people with the autonomy to make decisions will get you through. It is their Capability that delivers in the end.

6 Responses to Capability versus Competence

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