Picture23Once you have an idea of what Activities will need to be performed in order to execute the Course of Action, you can determine which Capabilities will be needed to support those Activities. Capabilities can be technical or organizational in nature. A technical capability might be the ability to program in HTML. An organizational capability might be a strong competence in public speaking. Activities will often require one or more capabilities in order to be performed.

Capabilities are not physical in nature. They are knowledge bases or levels of experience with a given subject. Capabilities are backed by Resources and also may have to work with them in order to carry out the Activity. If an employee has the capability to code in HTML, then that employee is the human Resource that provides that capability. In addition that employee is useless unless he has additional Resources “Computer” to enable coding in HTML. Some Resources provide Capabilities as their primary benefit. A great public speaker is an example of a human Resource that provides a Capability.

Let’s return to Jack and Jill. Now that we have determined three major Activities, we can examine them and find out what Capabilities are required.

The Activities and required Capabilities are as follows.

Activity 1: Set up and tear down table and chairs for lemonade stand each day.

Required Capability: Someone strong enough to set up and tear down table and chairs each day.

Activity 2: Purchase ingredients to produce 15 gallons of lemonade. “15 gallons of lemonade will result in $50 of profit at the planned price point”

Required Capability: None. This is an expenditure of monetary Resources.

Activity 3: Manufacture fresh lemonade in 1 gallon batches each morning.

Required Capability: Very basic ability to read and follow simple recipes.

Activity 4: Sell the lemonade.

Required Capability: Basic arithmetic skills that would allow basic addition and subtraction.


Note that none of these Activities require Capabilities that Jack and Jill won’t be able to do on their own. This means that they won’t have to acquire any Capabilities. Let’s say for a minute though that Jack and Jill were not strong enough to tear down the table and chairs each day. This means they would have to acquire that Capability from elsewhere. This might be a parent or stronger friend. If they were not able to acquire this Capability then they would have to revise this Activity or perhaps even figure out a different Course of Action.

Let’s go over the examples from the previous section and determine which Capabilities will be required for the listed Activities.

Example 1 OBJ: Bill will start and operate a wine bar in Toledo, Ohio. He will specialize in providing the largest selection of California varieties, which are underrepresented in the area. He will make at least $80,000 a year in profit from his wine bar.

Course of Action A: Bill will start and manage an independent wine bar under a brand he develops.


1. Develop relationships with suppliers

Required Capabilities: Social skills.

2. Scout out potential locations for the wine bar

Required Capabilities: None.

3. Build a social media presence through website development and other platforms

Required Capabilities: Computer literacy, website design skills, internet marketing competence.



Example 2 OBJ: Kevin will build a decorative two story shed in the backyard of his house. It will have at least 100 square feet of space upstairs for storage which will reduce the clutter in the house.

Course of Action B: Kevin will hire the services of a carpenter to work on the shed.


1. Seek out carpenters that are able to do the work.

Required Capabilities: None.

2. Make decisions as far as design and layout go.

Required Capabilities: None.

3. Agree on a price with the carpenter.

Required Capabilities: None.


Example 3 OBJ: Abigail will organize a fundraising dinner for the Doe family. The dinner will be prepared by a local restaurateur and there will be fun and games for everyone. The fundraiser will raise at least $10,000 for the Doe family.

Course of Action A: Abigail will gather a small group which will undertake all preparations.


1. Recruit members for the planning and prep group.

Required Capabilities: Social skills, leadership.

2. Delegate responsibilities to members of the planning and prep group.

Required Capabilities: Leadership.

3. Monitor performance and make adjustments as needed.

Required Capabilities: Management skills.


Example 4 OBJ: Susan will manage a project to improve productivity by at least 5% in the company. The project will focus on introducing soft improvements which require minimal resources to implement.

Course of Action A: The project will introduce new incentives to reward higher productivity.


1. Work with Human Resources and Executives to determine what Resources are available for this initiative.

Required Capabilities: Interpersonal communication skills, social skills.

2. Determine criteria for new incentives.

Required Capabilities: Analytical skills.

3. Develop implementation plans throughout the organization.

Required Capabilities: Organization skills, interpersonal communication skills.


Example 5 OBJ: The average student test scores will improve by a total of 10%, from 76% to 86%, over the next three years.

Course of Action B: The course will be redesigned so that more time is spent on traditionally weak areas.


1. Examine the course and scout out weak points.

Required Capabilities: Analytical skills.

2. Do comparative analysis to determine how those weak points are addressed in more successful classes.

Required Capabilities: Analytical skills.

3. Redesign the course structure as needed based on Activities 1 and 2.

Required Capabilities: Analytical skills, education.


Example 6 OBJ: ACME will be the lowest cost provider of computer services in Dayton.

Course of Action B: ACME will focus on maintenance agreements and other long term relationships to keep prices low.


1. Determine which customers are candidates for the proposed maintenance agreement program.

Required Capabilities: Analytical skills.

2. Meet with customers and reach agreement with them.

Required Capabilities: Marketing, sales, legal, understanding of computer services, contracting.

3. Scale back and close out higher cost/lower margin customers.

Required Capabilities: Social skills.


Example 7 OBJ: The Jaguars will win at least 8 games this year.

Course of Action B: The Jaguars will focus on improving their preseason training.


1. Discuss adjustments with school administration and teachers to ensure it does not disrupt other goals.

Required Capabilities: Social skills, interpersonal communication skills, negotiation.

2. Increase the number of sessions in the summer from 2 per week to 3 per week.

Required Capabilities: None

3. Introduce new summer home training regimen for players.

Required Capabilities: Leadership, Communication skills, physical training skills.


Example 8 OBJ: Scott will ensure that the team continues to produce 50 widgets per week and keep the quality scores above 95%.

Course of Action A: Scott will retain the previous methods and processes practiced by the team.


1. Have meetings with staff to ensure that management and culture align closely with that of the previous management.

Required Capabilities: Interpersonal communication skills, management, leadership.

2. Monitor performance to ensure production and quality remain consistent.

Required Capabilities: Analytical skills, management, leadership.

3. Make adjustments or changes as necessary to maintain previous production metrics.

Required Capabilities: Management, leadership.


This was a very simple look at the broad Capabilities that may be required for each Activity. Remember that Capabilities are specific to the circumstances. Someone with strong sales skills in Ohio will find that that those skills don’t translate to Mexico or Europe. Narrowing down specific Capabilities for each Activity will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. You will be better equipped to know which Capabilities the organization possesses and which ones it will have to recruit.

On a side note. With each shift of an organization you will most likely see a shift in it’s Capabilities. As people come and go, they may take these Capabilities with them. That is why when I see an organization that lets go of untold thousands of employees I cringe. I do not cringe so much for the employees as I do at the realization that the organization has most likely just torn out a great many of it’s Capabilities. It then falters in some of it’s Activities, which the executive team sees as a reason to cut even more jobs. Thus more Capabilities are ripped away and the cycle continues. I believe that downsizing should be planned according to those Capabilities for which there is an excess. This is as opposed to the casual closure of plants, divisions, product lines, etc. 


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