The essential framework to build a life and business

It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it is the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time
— David Allan Coe

Consider your entire life an entity that mirrors a corporation. You’ll be surprised at just how similar the drivers of success in a corporation are to your own.So What are the drivers of long-term success in a corporation? To find the answer, we have to go back to basics. 

CORE COMPETENCIES 101

In a 1990 article published in the Harvard Business Review, authors C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel argued that the corporations that identified and developed these competencies were able to truly succeed and beat competitors across the world.

In order to succeed in global market, it’s not enough for corporations to simply produce great products. Even if there are multiple sections of the business doing well, it still might not be enough to propel the corporation to global dominance.

Instead, the secret is to build up “core competencies” — skills that are taught and mastered across the corporation and used to create a variety of products in different markets.

SO WHAT ARE CORE COMPETENCIES

In business, core competencies are a set of skills that:

●    transfer across a corporation’s many business units — they’re taught and used by employees of all levels and job types

●    help a corporation manufacture and sell a variety of successful products

●    improve (through the end products) the lives of customers 

In life, core competencies are a set of traits that:

●    transfer to many aspects of your life and career. Skills such as graphic design that can be applicable across your job and your hobbies. Knowledge such as financial expertise and accounting. Communication abilities such as the ability to persuade or negotiate. 

●    help you pave a career path in multiple directions. The ability to write allows you to document and product a product in any field. Your experience in sales allows you to sell whatever concept you have to multiple parties. 

●    improve (through your unique set of skills) the lives of others. 

It is important to remember that many people may possess the individual traits that you possess, however it is in their unique combination that makes your truly stand out.

A great example is Jamie Foxx. Under direction of his late grandmother, his ability to play the piano and act came at a very young age (way before he realized it would one day become useful). Little did he know that it would one day end up being a hidden core competency that in combination allowed him to play one of the greatest musicians in the world, Ray Charles. 

”I’d been playing piano since I was 5, when my grandmother said, “This is how you’re going to make your money.”” - Jamie Foxx

CORE COMPETENCES WILL HELP YOU STEM GREAT THINGS - EFFICIENTLY

Think of it like a tree. The components of a tree/corporation/yourself include:

●    Leaves, fruits, and flowers — often the first things that are noticed when looking at a tree; these are like the end products that customers purchase in the store.

●    Branches — the parts of the tree that holds the leaves, fruits, and flowers; these are like the business units that focus on manufacturing and selling specific end products.

●    Trunk (or very large branches) — the main part of the tree, and similar to the core products that a company makes (like 3M’s sticky tape).

●    Roots — key to the success of the tree’s growth are the roots; these are the core competencies that are used to develop core products, and in turn make the end products that customers will buy.

The tree analogy shows that without strong roots (the core competencies), the tree would die or not be able to continue growing as fast. The leaves (the end products) will only thrive if the the tree is strong. 

As employees of various roles within a corporation use these core competencies, the corporation will be able to more efficiently and effectively produce great end products. The core competencies (the roots of the tree) will also become stronger the more they are used and taught — creating a strong entity that doesn’t depend on the success of one or two end products.
How to develop core competencies

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

The old notion of playing to your strengths is very relevant here. While going out of your comfort zone is often a sure way to develop your skills, it is definitely worth your while to identify out what core competencies you have within yourself and use them as a starting point before deciding on an objective.

According to Prahalad and Hamel, there are a few different ways that corporations develop these core competencies:

●    Internally build up the competency throughout all of its business units, by taking the time and effort to teach and develop the competency

●    Purchase technology

●    Partner with other companies

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THE S.H.A.P.E. FRAMEWORK: HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN CORE COMPETENCIES - AND STAND OUT

This is also true when it comes to your own journey. So how do you develop your own core competencies?

S: SELECT

First step is to identify what your core competencies are. To do this you must have a full understanding of the entire spectrum of traits, skills, experience you have. 

Consider this step a brainstorming session.  will take you the longest, but once you have done this it will prove immensely useful in understanding yourself. You will be able to identify abilities you possess and things you do not.

SOCIAL

Persuasion
Negotiation
Deliberation
Public speaking
Inter-personal communication
Leadership
Teaching
Languages

SKILLS

Baking/Cooking
Website design
Programming
Graphic design
Writing
Sales
Mechanics

KNOWLEDGE

Psychology
Medicine
Nutrition
Strategic management
Finance/investment
Marketing


H: HONE

For each trait score each out of 5 based on its

1. Strength/Quality
2. Uniqueness
3. Versatility

Score total: 15

A: ARRANGE

After you have honed in on each competency, arrange them in order of highest and lowest ranking. 

P: POOL

This step is crucial for really getting into the crux of core competency theory. You must now group together competencies that  work together well. Obviously the communication competencies will be the most versatile and therefore be present in multiple groups.

It’s critical that managers across business units work together to develop the corporation’s core competencies. In order for a corporation to succeed, these common skills need to be shared across businesses; they can’t be soloed into a corner for only certain employees to master.

You must continually practice working on the strength within the group of competencies. For example, practicing your communication skills in each aspect of your knowledge base. Success comes with the additional value and uniqueness you can add by joining competencies.

E: ENHANCE

●    Internally build up the competency, every chance you get. Communication is often a very valuable tool to consistently develop. Methods to deliver a message in a way that will help you achieve the results you need will benefit you in all walks of life. 

●    Enrol to courses/ training classes. The internet has given us the ability to read almost every book ever written on a topic. Do a thorough search of the best resources available on a core competence you want to develop. This could be sales training, website development or motivational classes.  

●    Follow a mentor in the core competency. By shadowing and spending time with someone with a particular trait you will quickly learn how that person shines and stands out in their ability in that field. 

It’s important to avoid a situation similar to where a corporation’s own business units are competing against one another. If managers of specific sections of the business are trying to hoard specific employees, then these units become independent sections; this came harm the overall growth of the corporation.

Instead, employees who are well-trained in the corporation’s core competencies need to be put on the most exciting and important projects. Strategic business unit managers need to look beyond their own unit at the larger picture of the corporation’s growth.

Corporations that are developing core competencies need to have strong communication throughout the business. While physical products can wear out or lose favour, core competencies will grow stronger and stronger the more they’re shared and used.

The same can be said for your own core competencies in life. Never neglect them. The skills you once thought to be your best asset, will eventually become a distant memory and your natural ability to convey expertise in that trait will disappear. 

WHAT NOW?

 If it isn’t already clear to you at this stage. The foundation you have laid out works as an excellent starting point for all areas of your life and business. It helps you decide which project to embark on based on your strengths. The clarity you have achieved with this framework will allow you to find areas which are lacking and eventually make them a core competency. The potential for success is determined from the bottom up - and this is the best possible start you can have.

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