The Idea Dude


Monday, January 16, 2006

Unconscious competance...

Running companies is like driving. 90% of the people believe they are above average drivers, but statistically that is not possible. Face it, unless you're over 65 and ran 20 different companies (and failed in every one!), you're unlikely to know everything about everything. Tony Jeary in is book, "Life is a series of presentations" talks about 4 levels of competance. I'll share a bit of this in this blog entry.

Firstly, there is unconscious incompetance i.e. you don't know that you don't know. Call it human naivity. Probably the most dangerous level (like bad drivers), these folks make decisions without any logic or experience...just a bit savy and self belief. BTW, this affliction is not reserved only for the young and inexperienced. Unfortunately, it's not like skiing where you learn pretty fast which level you're in.

Secondly, there is conscious incompetance. You know that you don't know. Ahhh, first step to recovery. This requires egoless introspection. Self evaluation is never easy. We look in the mirror and can't believe why others can't see the beauty. But the beginnings of great leaders and managers start here. They realize there is much that they do not know or do not have the skillset. The solution is finding a great learning environment and most importantly great mentors. (note plural, we all have our foibles and pearls).

Thirdly, comes conscious competance. This is kinda a tricky. All it means is that you know what is the right to do but you have to think about it before doing it. This requires us to step back and make conscious decisions, not a bad thing in this day and age of lightning speed business. PS: there's another post coming talking about how we make bad decisions...more later.

Finally, the Nirvana is unconscious competance, it's like management by instinct. You don't really think about what you need to do, you just do it. Note to reader...this is not because you're winging it (like unconscious incompetance) but because you've seen similar situations and solutions to immediately know what to do. Like expert skiers they know where to carve the snow and how to shift their weight to adapt to the terrain. They also seem to do it effortlessly. The tricky thing to watch for here is that we are not lulled into a false sense of self-confidence and sometimes some things that appear familiar are not really the same as what we know.

The hardest part about all this is that our different skillsets are at different levels and we need to really understand what we are good at and what we are not good at. The solution is to always have mentors and confidants who can tell you like it is and help you question your assumptions. What worked yesterday may not work today and sometimes as the technology and world changes we complete the cycle and go from unconscious competance back to unconscious incompetance.

In life, it is not only important to do the right things but also to stop doing the wrong ones!

As they say...In the land of the blind...the one-eye man is king.


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