Do you (really) understand what you Want, Have & Need

What capabilities does your company want, what capabilities does your company have and what capabilities does your company need? An obvious question, right? Everything from recruitment to development relies on an innate understanding of these three elements with regards to what drives performance in a role. But what if the basic principles that underpin an organisation are not fully understood, or worse, wrong?

The Situation

Our experiences when proving our hypothesis – that performance is a function of individual capability and environment – led to an epiphany. Hiring managers found it challenging to identify what they wanted in a high performer. Two managers had differing thoughts on the same role (they both can’t be right) and the actual capabilities of a group of high performers were not what either manager thought they were. A clear misalignment emerged and inspired our most in demand programme, Want, Have, Need. We worked alongside a global SaaS company’s ANZ region to drive performance through synchronisation.

The Solution

As the name would suggest, we began with the ‘Want’. Twenty sales managers were invited to use our Job Profile tool to define what they individually thought drives high performance in an account executive. The twenty managers returned twenty entirely different results. Remember, these are all for the same role in the same company. We presented the initial findings to the VPO to which he replied, “that’s the biggest problem I have.” Indeed, it’s a problem, but it’s not the biggest problem.
We aggregated the results of the twenty profiles to establish what capabilities the managers thought as collective drove high performance, again, in that specific role. Upon seeing the findings the VPO agreed that an individual who possesses these capabilities is exactly what he was looking for. We Imprinted two hundred members of the sales team across the region and again aggregated their results. Of the eight most important capabilities identified by the managers only two were present in the aggregated results of the sales team. And they were not the top two. “That’s my biggest problem,” he replied. Indeed, it’s a problem, but it’s not the biggest problem.
It’s a problem, but it’s not the biggest problem.
We asked the managers out of the two hundred strong sales team which individuals they would rehire knowing what they do now. We took the Imprints of these high performers and aggregated their results to find the strongest eight common capabilities they shared. Just two of those capabilities appeared in the aggregated results of the entire workforce. And they were not the top two. Furthermore, just two of the capabilities these high performers possessed were in common with what the hiring managers (thought they) wanted. Now that is the biggest problem.
Just two of the capabilities these high performers possessed were in common with what the hiring managers (thought they) wanted.

The SUccess

Performance within a role falls neatly under a standard distribution curve – 68% lies with one standard deviation of the mean average with 16% either side. AbilityMap’s aim is to close the distance between the two extremes and shift the curve to the right. Without understanding what drives performance, training, development and recruitment becomes redundant. Being able to quantitatively assess the drivers of high performance in a role allowed our client realign their organisational activities to drive greater performance.


The incredible technologies that organisation’s invest heavily in are not working. Our co-founder Mike Erlin spent twenty years supporting and selling them. The organisational psychology our other co-founder, Kevin Chandler, spent forty years developing is not working. And the reason it is not working is not inherent flaws in the technologies themselves but a fundamental need for context. First an organisation must fully understand what they want, what they have and what they need.

Resources Used