This week I’ll mainly be consciously incompetent!

January 9, 2018

It got me thinking about starting new things and how sometimes in our rush to get up to speed we often miss the full experience that being new can bring to us and those around us.

That great model, the conscious competent model of learning, is a great reminder of this. When we learn new skills, we experience different stages of the learning process. As a reminder, the model goes something like this:

  • Unconscious incompetent – You don’t know what you don’t know
  • Conscious incompetent – You now know what you don’t know
  • Conscious competent – You now know how to do something, but it takes effort
  • Unconscious competent – You now know how to do something, and it has become second nature

Perhaps because in our eagerness to have all the knowledge and information we think we need, in my experience, we can all sometimes rush over the opportunity to be consciously incompetent. But in doing this, what we can forget is the wonderful space having a fresh pair of eyes and an enquiring mind is to be in – both for ourselves and in the observations and feedback we are able to give, to those around us too.

However, you don’t need to wait for a new job to do this. We can choose to view life through this lens from time to time by raising our awareness to what’s going on around us and deliberately entering that consciously incompetent view point.

Paying attention to what we notice around us whilst using this lens can be a fascinating exercise. For example, this month our theme at the Beech Centre is around all things process, so you could choose to pay attention to things such as:

  • What redundant process do you notice?
  • What processes seem to be making peoples jobs harder or easier?
  • What’s working well and therefore how could these things be utilised in other areas?

I’d love to hear about your experience of being in that conscious incompetent phase and looking at things with fresh eyes, whether it’s because you are new to something, back from holiday perhaps or that you simply chose to notice. Then how have you used this information to impact your organisation and what were the outcomes?

You can find me here at the Beech Centre learning where the recycling goes, how to navigate my new laptop, use the photocopier and everything in between.

Rosanna James

Organisational Development Consultant

The Beech Centre for People, Performance and Organisational Development



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