Steven Forth is a Co-Founder of TeamFit. See his Skill Profile.


Open Competency Models

Ibbaka-TeamFit will be contributing a series of Open Competency Models to its communities over the coming year. Working with our customers and partner, we have seen the power that a skill and competency model brings to individuals and organizations. Good competency models bring clarity to the capabilities that an organization needs to evolve and adapt. They are central to the execution of strategic plans. For the individual, a competency model acts as a lens, allowing individuals to look into their skill profile and find hidden opportunities or gaps.

To date, competency models have been locked into enterprise applications like Learning Management Systems (LMS) or Talent Management Systems. They have been pinned down to the assumptions in the system. Alternatively, they have been expressed as Powerpoint documents or spreadsheets. These static representations are difficult to use, to evolve, and can be even harder to understand.

We are committed to bringing the power of skill and competency models to as many people as possible. To do this, we will be sharing a series of Open Competency Models over the coming year. These models will be open and designed so that they can be recombined to create new ones.

To introduce this concept, let’s begin with a few definitions.

What is a Competency Model?

Competency Models, or Skill and Competency Models, are structured information about the capabilities needed to perform work in a specific context. They are used to help organizations and individuals understand what is required to make meaningful contributions to the work, to provide guidance on the experiences and learning that will help to build those capabilities. In some cases, they also provide guidance on other requirements for successful performance.

What is an Open Competency Model?

Open Competency Models are a set of competency models being made available under a Creative Commons license. They are meant to change over time, while people engaged in the discipline add skills from their profiles that reflect their experience and while organizations continue to customize the models so as to capture their differentiated approach.

What are Recombinant Competency Models?

Recombinant competency models are models that can be split into pieces and recombined in new ways. They are modular. One can take a component from one model and reuse it in another. Recombination is one way that competency models can evolve.

The first four Open Competency Models we are developing are …

Design Thinking
Customer Success
Adaptation to Climate Change

The last of these is actually being developed by the ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Lab at Royal Roads University under the leadership of Dr. Robin Cox. We will be interviewing Dr. Cox on her work designing competency models in October. The model will be hosted on our People Insights Platform so that people from around the world will be able to access and work with it.

What other open competency models should we be developing? Send your ideas to

Interested in contributing to the Customer Success Open Competency Model? Share your views in this short survey.

As we develop these competency models, we are getting a lot of input into the components that are used in a model and how they are used. Our current base set of components is as follows:

Jobs – A formal job at an organization. Examples – Design Thinking Coach, Pricing Optimization Expert, Customer Success Manager

Roles – A role within a job or on a project. Examples – Project Manager, Data Analyst, Experience Designer, Community Manager. There is the fluidity between Jobs and Roles. As a discipline matures, what were once roles often become full-time jobs at some organizations. This is one reason why a recombinant model is so important.

Tasks – A process that must be completed as part of a Job or Role. Examples – Plan a Budget, Plot a Price Dispersion, Evaluate a Prototype

Behaviours – Externally visible ways in which a person carries out a Task or performs a Job or Role. Examples – Seeks to Understand User’s Emotions, Updates Budget Weekly, Listens to Diverse Opinions, Communicates Decisions

Skills – These are the most granular parts of a skill model. On our platform, we have seven default skill categories (Foundational, Social, Business, Technical, Design, Tool, Domain). In some cases, like the Adaptation to Climate Change model, a custom skill category system is being provided for the model. Examples of Foundational Skills (the skills used to develop other skills) – Learning, Asking Questions, Systems Theory, Probability, Active Listening, Calculus (there are already almost a thousand Foundational skills documented on the platform)

Learning Resources – The many different resources available to support the acquisition of a Skill. Examples – Mentors, Online Courses, Books, Conferences, Communities of Practice and so on.

Credentials – Formal certifications granted by a recognized certification body. They can be applied to Skills, Roles and even Jobs. Examples – Degrees, Technical Certifications, Badges, Professional Designations.

Based on our initial research, we are finding that in some cases Values should be a part of competency models. About 74% of respondents to our survey Design Thinking Open Competency Model identified values as something that should be included. We are reporting on that survey later this month.

Another competency model component that we are considering for some of these models is Experiences. Sixty-one percent of people responding to the Design Thinking Competency Model survey felt these should be included in the model. We are exploring to see if this is a good place to connect a competency model to the Experience API (xAPI).

Open competency models will become a public way to help individuals and organizations build the many new capabilities that society is going to need to thrive in the coming years. If you have your own competency model and are interested in making it available through our platform, let us know. There is no charge if you are willing to make it available under a Creative Commons license.