How to develop competency

How to develop competency

How to develop competency in the competition world with overcoming challenges and barriers.

The hare and the tortoise – behind the story

We have all heard of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare when we were younger. The moral of the story is: “slow and steady wins the race”, or “never give up”, whichever you were taught.

Once upon a time a tortoise and hare had an argument about who was faster. Then they began the race. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he’d sit under tree for some time and relaxed. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race. The hare woke up and realized he’d lost the race.

Moral of the story#1: ‘slow and steady win the race.

This is the version of the story everyone knows.

But, the story continues…

The hare was disappointed at losing the race he did some soul-searching. He realized that he has lost race because of the over confident. So, he challenged the tortoise for another race. This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won the race.

Moral of the story#2: ‘Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. If you have two people in your organization, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable chap will consistently climb the organizational ladder faster than the slow, methodical chap. 

In today’s world of technology where information is at your fingertips and communication is instantaneous across the globe, speed and efficiency (be it R&D, operational response or customer service), has become a requirement in most businesses.

The bigger differentiating factor is probably the consistency behind your speed, and whether the quality and effectiveness is maintained in spite of it. That’s one key success factor behind brands like Disney and McDonalds – their ability to build long-term brand confidence through consistency and reliability in their service delivery.

It’s good to be slow and steady but it’s better to be fast and reliable.’

But the story doesn’t end here…

The tortoise did some thinking this time and realized that there is no way he can beat the hare in the race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different rout. The hare agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to e consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a border of river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river. The hare was sat without no idea, but in the meantime, tortoise trundled along, got in to the river, swam to opposite bank, continued walking and finishing the race.

Moral of the story#3: ‘First, identify your core competency. Then change the playing field to suit your core competency.’

If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make report and send it upstairs. Working to your strength will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancements.   

Arguably, some of the strongest brands don’t just stick to their core competencies. They shape their environments and apply their core competencies creatively to new products and services. In the process, they create new market niches, deepen existing competencies and add new competencies along the way.

This article by Austin Car gives a good overview of real-world examples like how Nike is transitioning from shoes to software, and how Google is applying its strengths in various new areas from mobile phones to self-driving cars and space elevators.

But story hasn’t end…

The hare and tortoise became pretty good friend this time, they are thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been much better.

So, they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time.

They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the river bank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.  

Moral of the story#4: ‘It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies. But, unless you’re able to work in a team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations where you’ll do poorly, and someone does well.’

The teamwork is mainly about the situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.  

A natural progression for more established businesses would be to move into partnership and collaboration with other companies whose core competencies could very well be the delivery of your non-core services.

As entrepreneurs, it is impossible to do everything yourself (here are some considerations for business outsourcing). When it comes to identifying ideal partners, one of my favorite profiling tools is Wealth Dynamics by Roger Hamilton, which not only gives you a good idea of who you are, how you should be working with others around you, but also the exact strategy that you should follow to build wealth. You can use this or other frameworks to identify people to complement you in terms of personal strengths, experience and/or skill-sets.

There are more lessons to be learnt from this story.

Note that neither the hare and tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could.

Indeed, this story is teaching us many things such as:

  • Never give up when we face failure.
  • Fast and consistency will always beat slow and steady
  • Work to your core competencies.
  • Compete against the situation, not against the rival.
  • Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performance.

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