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Core competencies

The mosaic of skills which makes the difficult, easy and the impossible, possible. Author


Core competency is the ability of an organization to be especially good at a particular activity (technical innovation, developing excellent managers, marketing new products, etc.).  It is the sum of individual skills and experience harnessed to the resources of the organization and may include the way information, technology and relationships are used.

As a differentiator:
It is the core competencies of an organization that differentiates it from its peers and competitors. Whereas skills and experience relate to individual people, a core competency relates to what the organization itself is good at doing, for example consider the two following illustrations:

Berkeley Homes employs people skilled in bricklaying, architecture, dealing with planning authorities, the law, etc. While many building companies have similar skills and experience, Berkeley Homes have combined these into a total competency for dealing with complex urban projects. This involves buildings with many floors,  several levels of underground parking, restricted access through narrow streets, tight planning constraints, conservation orders, party wall agreements, right of light complications, engineering works, archaeological digs and the need to harmonize with the surroundings.

Systems integrator Fujitsu have people skilled in computer systems, networks, negotiation, project management, etc. and have welded these into a core competency for implementing large complex projects with tight time scales, such as a national lottery.


The asset is in the bundle of skills: 
Organizations often say that their greatest asset is their staff.  However, the real asset is the ability that the organization has in training, motivating and managing those staff, all with individual skills and to mould these abilities into a core competency which gives it an advantage over its competitors.  In practice, it will probably not outshine its competitors in all respects, but will differentiate itself with just one. For example, one charity may excel at raising money, another at deploying field workers and yet another at working with hostile governments. Similarly, one car maker may excel at engineering excellence, another at providing passenger comfort and yet another at sales and distribution.  >>>