I'm looking for some resources / hints, tips and ideas on creating a Capability Plan. The purpose is to define the gap in skills and knowledge for my Business in relation to where it needs to be in 2 to 3 years time. I know what our strategy states and the direction of the Business. I've created a high level skills matrix and gathered information from work-areas on what they believe they require other the next 2 years. I've spoken to some key thinkers in the Business to see what they believe is required. I also have a Future Capability Plan from HR but this is very high level. Any thoughts on what else I could do and how I bring all this information together?

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You have been doing your homework!

When thinking about the capability plan, get clear on the difference between competence and capability. In order for someone to be capable of doing the job you put in front of them, they must be competent within themselves, and they must be working within an environment that supports them to apply that competence. If the environment is not right, the individual can be competent, but incapable in the moment of doing the job you ask them to do.

So any discussion about capability needs to also include the “competence” of the working environment. It is a bit like thinking about the performer, and the stage on which they are performing. Both need to support the overall performance in order to deliver to the audience.

So don’t just ask what skills and knowledge are required in 2 to 3 years’ time, also ask how the environment must support the application of that skills and knowledge. You can do all the training you like, but without a supportive environment, people will not be able to use the training.

There is also a reasonable chance that much of the training that managers say their people need for the future, is not actually needed. They would rather say their people need an upgrade, than admit to the fact that the environment over which they have control is not conducive to effective performance. So a good hypothetical question for them might be, if we do no formal training at all over the next two years, what do we need to do in the environment around these people to maintain and improve performance in support of the wider business strategy.

Cheers, Paul


Thank you for this insight and the really valuable question at the end. In my discussions so far there does seem to be a wish list appearing so I know I need to be careful managing expectations.

The idea of competence is also a great way for me to connect with my audience and the Business. Without the stage and structure any development may be short lived, with little chance to put anything in to practice and ultimately wasted.


Hi Andy

I  agree with Paul that you need the context as well.  In an ideal world your business would have a target operating model looking at (to use the Ashridge model):

  1. Process
  2. Organization and people
  3. Locations and buildings
  4. Information systems
  5. Suppliers and business partners
  6. Management system

A gap analysis against the people capability would then give you the priority activities for your plan.  Given that you probably don't have that level of detail, from what you say, I'd go for a pragmatic approach and ask your leaders for the 1 most critical thing their people will need to be able to do in 2 years that they can't do now.  You can then do some analysis with SMEs on how that actually breaks down into knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours so you can develop a learning plan.

Once you start delivering on the top priority, you can start on the next bit.  Nicely agile, and the next priority will probably have changed by you get to it...



Thank you for this idea, very constructive and something tangible. With my Business changing so quickly and probably quite rightly not trying to exactly define what it may look like in the future then an agile approach I think is the right way to take this work forward. Constantly checking back that its meeting the needs of the stakeholders should keep me on track.




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