Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.30 Understanding the 5 Stages of Skill Acquisition

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Introduction

There are 5 stages of skill acquisition and an assessment of where staff are at in each stage can help determine the most productive way to handle the transition process. The 5 stages:

1 Novices

New learners have a beginning awareness on the subject area, and apply their skills by following rules. With a purely basic understanding of the concepts and ideas, they cannot easily recognise a problem .

2 Advanced beginners

Performance improves to the point where learners can perform acceptably. They have an awareness of the breadth of the subject area and realise the limitations of their lack of knowledge about the whole discipline. They can reliably follow the prescribed steps of a process, as long as it does not deviate from what they have studied and learnt

3 Competent learners

They are familiar with the subject. Additional instructions and tips will not increase their competencies. They can move beyond simply applying rules and procedures, and can adapt the skills to circumstances as they have begun to internalise the skills. They still lack "know‐how"

4 Proficient learners

Direct experience with continual practice in diverse settings has resulted in ingrained skills, ie they can reliably handle any situation by applying the techniques and practices with a full grasp of the whole problem. However, they still act at a primarily conscious level

5 Experts

They break the rules to surpass the goals and have fully internalised their practice. Experts continue learning through interaction with other experts ‐ in mentoring relationships, internships and apprenticeships

Therefore, organisations can bootstrap themselves into greater proficiency through a strategic approach to building expertise, ie identifying at what level different groups of their staff are at and then assisting the development of expertise.

This can be linked with levels of excellence, ie

. Unconscious incompetence (you are bad and don't even know it. Bliss for you, but no one else)

. Conscious incompetence (you are still consistently terrible, but a highly motivated learner)

. Conscious competence (with enough mental effort you can achieve good results ‐ some of the time)

. Unconscious excellence (your performance is automatic, unthinking and consistently good)

. Conscious excellence (you can get into the "zone" when required and able to explain it)

(sources: John Edwards et al, 1997; Daniel Kim, 1999; Fortune, 2006)


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