When faced with a change force, it is natural for an agency to assume that they can address it using its legacy competencies, processes, tools and skillsets. They may even be known as a leader among their peers based on their prior expertise. However, the nature of disruptive forces is to present new paradigms that require wading into unfamiliar territory for which an agency may not have existing expertise or resources to lean on, despite their previous successes.

Capability-building requires an agency to take an objective look at their staffing expertise and the other resources they bring to bear relative to this situation, and to acknowledge areas of opportunity and risk if the capabilities they need to address this challenge or opportunity are not enhanced.

Understanding and Addressing Essential Capabilities

According to a recent McKinsey survey, half of respondents indicate capability building is at least a top-three business priority. The survey indicates the most important reasons for developing capability are to meet customer demands and strategic needs.

Essential capabilities are the “secret sauce” of an agency that equips them with the skills, processes and systems they need to conduct business. Sometimes, it is only when an agency is faced with an emerging trend that creates a need they are unequipped to address that they recognize an essential capability gap.

According to the survey, few organizations have a process in place to assess capabilities and identify gaps. They recommend:

  • Diagnosing systematically – identify institutional and individual capabilities that have the biggest impact
  • Designing and delivering learning to address individual needs
  • Aligning capability-building with and linking it to business performance.