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Capability at Work

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Imagine for a moment that you’re the Chief Executive of a new business, and you’re offered a choice of two teams to work in your business.

Team One consists of people who are well-educated, have been on many training courses, and have lots of qualifications. The people in Team Two have done this sort of work before and have proven themselves capable of doing the work that needs to be done in your new business.

Which team would you choose?

It’s a question that has been asked of CEOs, company directors, and managers, as well as people in L&D and HR in both the public and private sectors.

How did they answer?

99 per cent of the people asked said that they would have picked Team Two.


They all knew that in the moment when a job needs to be done, capability to do the task counts far more than the amount of training someone has done or even the amount of knowledge they possess.

In his latest book, People Alchemy founder and managing director, Paul Matthews, explains the importance of capability to organisational performance and why L&D and HR, and in fact every department must make the capability of people and the organisation a priority if they want their company (and their jobs) to survive in the current and future economy. Paul shows why focusing on performance and results rather than learning or training is key to business survival and why it’s a mistake for L&D, HR and Training to continue to focus on creating content, and then delivering it, either in the training room or online.

You’ll discover the key roles that L&D and HR have in developing capability to improve individual and organisational performance and the practical steps you can take within your organisation to start or enhance this process.

He explains the fundamentals of a systems view of organisational performance and the critical role that HR and L&D have to play in organisational design and development. The book will also show you how you can move away from the passive (and quite often ineffective) role of training order-taker to become a performance consultant, and a major player in improving organisational performance.

And it explains why HR and L&D need to learn to speak and understand the language of business and put an end to the isolation professionals within such roles experience. You’ll also find out the five critical components of capability and the importance role each plays in any organisation’s success.

About the Author:
Paul’s life and work history can only be described as a little unusual. He grew up on a hill country farm in New Zealand and went on to study both Agriculture and Engineering at University. He graduated with first class honours and a couple of years later won a national farm machinery award for the design of a seed drill. The drills were exported by his employer to over 20 countries around the world. Years later, when he was travelling in Ecuador, he was amazed to see one of his seed drills up for sale in a second-hand farm machinery yard by the side of the road.

As many Kiwis do, he set off to see the world and travelled extensively, stopping along the way to earn money for the next adventure. He then landed what was to him a dream job, working for an adventure travel company leading overland expeditions into many remote areas of the world. All this experience, which lasted over four years, has given him some great stories to tell of far-flung places, from the Congo jungle to the Chinese Taklamakan desert. By the way, locals say the name means ‘go in and you will never come out’.

Paul then ‘got a real job’ as an engineer in the UK. It proved quite a challenge to make the transition from travelling the wild places on the planet and needing to build a campfire each night, to working regular hours and commuting. After some success, he was headhunted into a NASDAQ-quoted multi-national technology company, where he eventually held the role of Customer Services Director. It was during this time that he really started to appreciate the importance of learning, and was surprised that his adventures and the experience of observing people learn to cope with unfamiliar situations were so valuable in understanding learning. His curiosity led him into studying psychology, NLP and many other areas relating to how the mind works – knowledge which he could then translate back into the workplace.

The constraints of corporate life lost their appeal and Paul started his own company, People Alchemy Ltd, in 1999, working as a consultant, trainer and coach in the areas of management and leadership. Most of his clients were blue chip organisations and one client programme had over 1,200 delegates. He soon recognised the need for more direct performance support and the importance of informal learning in all its guises, rather than the common L&D reliance on classroom training. Paul has a way of engaging people with this changing paradigm so they can grasp it, incorporating it into their own organisational learning and capability strategies. His approach helps people to fully cater to the learning needs of their staff so they can get the job done.