How a “coherent weave” can enhance your competency model

Dr David RockThe NeuroLeadership Institute, co-founded by Dr David Rock, has Rethinking Learning as its focus for this year’s research project theme.  What, you might ask, is there to learn about that age old topic?  Attending a workshop given by Dr Rock was my first venture into the neuroscience field.   I am still at the stage of trying to sort out what is truly insightful and helpful, and what is old wine in new bottles. 


Dr Rock’s theme for the workshop was the design of learning experiences that more closely model actual brain functioning to deliver better and more long-term learning outcomes.   Networks of ideas are better than linear designs.  In practice this means paying close attention to the linking together of several related themes.  Design learning content to create clusters of interrelated concepts, ideas, experiences, skills, objectives and theories.  When done well he calls these webs of connections a ‘coherent weave.’  The power in a coherent weave is the exponential increase in connection compared to a linear design.


De-coherence occurs when we include different or irrelevant content in our learning design, stuff that just doesn’t fit, or we include too many models that essentially explain the same thing.  He refers to these as ‘knots’ and ‘tangles.’    Knots are removed by cutting out the offending content. Tangles are removed by simplifying to fewer concepts and removing redundancy. 


How to create a coherent weave


1.       Identify the central threads or core themes

2.       Build a stable hierarchy of ideas

3.       Be disciplined about tangles and knots

4.       Respect the limitations of memory (3 +/- 2 ideas at a time)

5.       Constantly link everything together


It is wonderful how this also translates directly to our principles in designing competency frameworks and 360 feedbacks.  Hold onto the core themes, be clear about the hierarchy of behaviours and make sure they hold together logically.  Remove repetition, redundancy and inconsistencies.  Keep the number of competencies down to a minimum, typically three for values and five for competencies.  And link everything together in a simple framework that is understandable to the organisation.


Thank you Dr Rock for underpinning our competency framework refresh model and thank you for a great session.

Nick Allen, Consultant and Coach, Talent Innovations

“The NeuroLeadership Institute event I attended was held 3rd April 2014 in Central London”

Read our WHITEPAPER – How to create and maintain an effective competency framework

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