I was recently reading Peter Fogel's If Not Now, When
, a humorous book about reinventing yourself, and he referenced the four stages of learning any new skill. It reminded me how valid this is in organizations trying to implement project management.
I've seen these stages also referred to as the "learning ladder" or "The Four Stages of Competence
." It's not clear who created it. Some sources date it as far back as Socrates or Confucius, but its modern form has been in psychology books since the 80's.
The four stages are as follows (I'll paraphrase the explanations):
1) Unconscious Incompetence
- Eveyone knows you're clueless except you. You don't realize why or when you're not achieving results, and are surprised when people complain.
2) Conscious Incompetence
- The light bulb goes off. You suddenly "get it" and realize you need to do something different. You begin taking actions to change.
3) Conscious Competence
- You're becoming more confident, and accomplishing goals through checklists, reading, learning, and mentoring. Things don't feel totally natural yet, nor should they, but you're achieving small successes.
4) Unconscious Competence
- This is the ultimate goal. Some call it situational awareness. The French call it coup d'oeil. It's like riding a bike or driving a car, and only happens with adequate experience, and some trial and error.
This is funny, but very true---perhaps still the best example of a maturity model I've seen to date. Unfortunately, many organizations think they can mandate this fourth level. The fact is that it can only be reached by progressing through the paths above. You can't just jump levels, although good principles and an adequate support system can speed the path forward.
The bottom line is that we must allow time to progress through the levels and not criticize too harshly. Secondly, we must seek ways to provide principles and support to ease the transition through these levels.
Criticism is not the way to promote maturity. More on this coming up...
Labels: awareness, business-results, change-management, competency, it-project, learning, maturity-model, people, principles, results, small-project