Three Domains of People Development

We can easily define organizations as a collection of people and ideas. That’s really what it starts with, and the organization and execution of these ideas is what drives us forward to success. This being accepted, developing our organizations will most likely excel in direct proportion to the development of our people. Greater customer service, leadership, sales, product design, patents, and creativity will all be a result of actively pursuing the learning and development of the organization. But what exactly does that look like?

There seems to be three domains involved in each persons development process. Realizing these domains, and learning about the responsibility organizations have in each, can help us better understand people development. These three domains are: desire, opportunity, and potential. In a throw back to sophomore geometry, consider the following triangle to help visualize these domains.

These domains work in conjunction with each other and all must be present for effective development. Opportunity and potential with no desire will produce little results, as will potential and desire with no opportunity. Organizational leaders need to be curators of this development triangle, working to be sure that all domains are present and available. Curator seems to be the correct work here, because organizational leaders have different levels of influence on these domains. For example, opportunity is something leaders can directly influence. We can provide opportunity to those we lead. Potential, on the other hand, is something we may have little influence over. Here are the basics to curating these development areas.

OPPORTUNITY: Leaders have almost 100% influence on opportunity. We can provide opportunities for our people to grow, and we should be actively running after this. This domain is almost exclusively the responsibility of the organization and should be taken very seriously.

DESIRE: Desire, unlike opportunity, is a two way street. Though external motivation is a reality, research extensively shows that internal motivation is much more powerful. As organizational leaders we do have the responsibility to exercise external motivation, but we also have the responsibility to hire internally motivated people. In this area where we have less direct control, we should begin looking to the hiring process to find ourselves people with existing desire and drive.

POTENTIAL: Potential is when we loose almost all direct influence as leaders. Opportunity we can fully adjust, desire we can influence, but potential we can not touch. Simply put, you hire potential. Don’t limit yourself and your organization by hiring people with little potential or aptitude for the tasks and job functions required.

In the end, people development revolves around these three domains. There will be much more to come on the Thrive blog surrounding these ideas, but remember this…

Hire potential, partner on desire, provide opportunity.

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