Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Putting Your Competency Dictionary to Work

And Now for Some Good News...

You can put that competency dictionary to work after all!

Since we launched Shift iQ we have worked with a wide variety of businesses, government agencies and associations looking for a better way to deliver technical training, manage employee records, and report on core HR data. Given this is what we do, and we do it rather well, we thought this was why industry gravitated to our space so quickly.
Yet, nothing is as simple as it appears, and before we started feeling heroic, we thought it would be worthwhile to look more closely at some of the issues common to our customers. For instance, we discovered many of our customers have spent an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and resources developing elaborate competency models, only to come to the same conclusion after completing their work: "Now what do we do with it?"
Being on the front-end of implementations, I have seen some of the world's largest Word documents, PDF's, and Excel spreadsheets, in a variety of styles, layouts, and formats. The content is often excellent — we work with a lot of amazing people — but it is almost impossible to implement (let alone maintain) a competency model outside a system that is designed specifically for that purpose.
Make no mistake, developing competencies and competency models is important work — it needs an ambitious and progressive team of subject matter experts, and it is a necessary first step toward the many personal and organizational benefits of a comprehensive skills development program.
However, without a strong system to manage and administrate your competency dictionary, the intrinsic value of the work will never be properly applied. It's unfortunate, but those valuable documents can become obsolete surprisingly quickly.
Shift iQ was designed from the start to manage and track fine-grained learning requirements and experiences, and so our customers find it tremendously valuable for building and managing competency statements and assembling these into job profiles, which in turn become components to employee and contractor training plans. Before I describe how this works, we should take a step back so you can see our approach to skills development and competency-based training.
One of the most interesting aspects to our work on Shift iQ over the past four years has been the amount of time and attention our team gives to the language we use. A lot of effort goes into ensuring that our terminology is as simple, clear, and unambiguous as we can make it.
The technology industry has a poor track record helping non-technical people understand exactly what their solutions do, particularly when there are many different vendors in a given market referring to similar features and workflows in completely different ways. (Anyone want to comment on the LMS space here?) This is something that has always been important to us, and I think the Shift iQ development team continues to do a great job here.
In simplest terms, Shift iQ has these key components:
  1. Everyone in the system is assigned one or more Profiles
  2. Each Profile is comprised of a set of Requirements
  3. Requirements can be linked to various training Resources
  4. After the Requirements within a Profile have been met, they become Capabilities
  5. When you are 100% capable in your Profile(s) you are workforce-ready
(That last point is especially important in industries where the employer is required to demonstrate that its employees and contractors are compliant with regulatory training and education requirements.)
All of this can be tracked and reported and future articles will discuss this in more detail. For now, let's return to the topic of how we can put your competency dictionary to work.
We see competencies as a type or category of learning requirements. In other words, all competencies are requirements, and not all requirements are competencies. Requirements might also include:
  • Codes of Practice
  • Orientations
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Tasks and Assignments
  • Time-Sensitive Safety Tickets
A profile is a set of learning requirements, like the ones listed above, and in Shift iQ, we use libraries to manage, edit, copy, compose, and apply competencies to Profiles. Your competency dictionary is simply the aggregated set of all your competencies, managed and tracked in a simple library.

Screenshot: Edit Requirement

Here is an example of the screen you use to edit a learning requirement in Shift iQ.
Screenshot: Edit Requirements

Screenshot: Compare Profiles

Here is an example of the screen you use to compare the requirements in two different profiles.
Screenshot: Compare Profiles

Closing Thoughts

After presenting this concept to folks at the recent ASTD TechKowledge Conference in Las Vegas, I am pleased to say there were several people (more than five!) that really "got" what we are doing with Shift iQ. They really seemed to appreciate the clarity and simplicity we bring to the game. That said, there were some who had a hard time understanding why we wanted to do something different in the world of LMS. (Please see one of our previous articles on this topic: Shift iQ = LMS 2.0.)
Suffice it to say if you are one of the many looking to apply or implement your (Word, PDF, Excel-based) competency dictionary in a skills development solution, then we can probably get you started faster than you think, and we can promise you this: it won't be confusing!

About Shift iQ

Shift iQ offers an integrated solution that provides an intuitive, cost-effective way to deliver online learning, including competency-based training, and performance management.

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