Wopi knows the person, not the job
Finnish company Competence Dimensions is using a unique process to help organisations hire and develop the right people.
Ballet dancers and creative MBA students seem to be polar opposites, but they share some important traits like intuitive thinking. If jobs for creative MBAs faded away, students could look at reskilling themselves for the ballet. While a humorous example, this demonstrates how a Finnish company is revolutionising modern work life.
“Jobs are changing, but competencies are not,” explains Petteri Niitamo, CEO of Competence Dimensions. “Thanks to digitalisation jobs are being disrupted with increased speed. However, the basic human drivers leading to universal basic competencies have not changed since we were cavemen.”
We’re still cavemen, sort of
Competence Dimensions is a premier testing and assessment company for human resources. It was formed in 2002, mainly to help Nokia design a new motivation-based coaching program. The keystone of Niitamo’s decades of research is the Work Personality Inventory (WOPI), a questionnaire to measure the motives, thinking and attitude drivers of competence. With it, they are able to help reskill a workforce challenged by new competency requirements caused by digitalisation.
“We focus on the less-changing competencies driven by age-old psychological drivers,” Niitamo continues. “I could go back to the Stone Age, administer WOPI and find the same type of people we find today. There would be hunters driven by competition, leaders driven by leadership motives and shamans driven by intuitive thinking.”
Even without the disruption of occupations, he says going back to basic competencies is important today. An example Niitamo gives is the engineer. Today an engineer has to know how to sell their technical solution, calling for completely opposite thinking from what they are used to.
Training + recruiting = Traincruiting
An age-old problem in human resources is recruiting and training staff. Traditionally they were handled as entirely different functions. A hiring process might look for one type of person, but a development program may be designed for a completely different type of person.
“HR people have known this problem for decades, but they needed a conceptual solution for it,” Niitamo says. “By focusing on basic competencies the two functions can be integrated. At the hiring stage you should already have a plan to train the person’s competence and build your training on the pre-hire assessment.”
Competence Dimensions is based in Helsinki and has operations in Stockholm and Zurich. Their clients tend to be HR consultancies, but after the publication of their integrated human resource development system their target has shifted to private and public organisations. They have worked with everyone from mid-sized Finnish companies to massive multinationals.
“One interesting project concerns women as leaders in different parts of the world,” says Niitamo. “A peculiarity among Asian female leaders is their immense focus on quality and perfection, a distinguishing feature of ballet dancers as well. Is it a ‘woman thing’ or an ‘Asian thing’? We don’t yet know.
“Following the InnoFinland 2010 Award we recently received a prestigious award from the International Test Commission for our work, even though we are small compared to many of the other international testing companies,” he concludes. “We also have some great projects coming up. I am very excited about the coming year.”
Text: David J. Cord