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The Champfrogs Checklist: Mastery

09/10/2013

People like being a master at something. That’s why it’s useful to make them feel competent.

Champfrogs-checklist-masteryI’m sure you know about Instagram. It’s a smartphone app that enables people to take photos and post them on the social networks. It was acquired by Facebook for nearly a billion dollars. I think Instagram is a fantastic idea, because it enables any colorblind halfwit with a smartphone and one finger to pretend that they create and discuss art as if they’re the reincarnation of Andy Warhol. Instagram has made people feel that they make great pictures. They don’t, but that doesn’t matter. They look competent.

Have you ever ordered a macchiato? You have? I’m sorry, that makes you look a bit incompetent, in the eyes of the Italians. You see, macchiato means “stained”. A caffè macchiato is espresso stained with a bit of milk. A latte macchiato is milk stained with a bit of coffee. When you order just a macchiato you are asking for a “stained nothing”. A competent barista should look puzzled and ask you, “What do you mean? A latte macchiato, or a caffè macchiato?” To add to the confusion, in northern Europe the default macchiato is often a latte macchiato, but in southern Europe it is usually a caffè macchiato. Knowing what you will get is important, because they are each other’s opposites. When a menu in a coffee shop just says macchiato I take pleasure in asking them, “Well, which one is it?” and then watch them struggle.

Competence & Mastery

I have no good reason for telling you this story, other than to make me look competent. People seem to think I’m a coffee connoisseur. I like that. In truth, I spent only five minutes comparing some Wikipedia entries. (Did you know that the caffè latte is not the same as a café au lait? Oh, and notice the spelling.)

So, what can you do as a business transformer when you want to motivate people? Easy! Get them to believe they can become a master at something, without putting in more than five minutes of effort. People love showing others which books are the best, how to save money, where to find the best restaurants, and how to properly order coffee. They spread the word, and their arty farty photos, because it makes them look as if they have achieved mastery. That’s why you should ask yourself:

Can We Make Them Look Competent?

Also read:

Champfrogs ChecklistThis is part 4 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist, a simple tool for change agents to match their ideas for change with people’s intrinsic motivation and desires. The full checklist consists of Curiosity, Honor, Acceptance, Mastery, Power, Freedom, Relatedness, Order, Goal, and Status. The Champfrogs Checklist article is available for download via the Management Workout mailing list.

This article is written by on in Change Management. Jurgen Appelo is at Happy Melly. Connect with Jurgen Appelo on .

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/lucianadrian Lucianadrian

    I understand the idea behind offering people the chance to look competent, but I believe this can become a trap.
    There are times when people really need to be competent, not just look. Should it be there a disclaimer not to abuse this “offer the competent look” ?
    Another option is make use of common sense, and assume those in need to apply this advice know its caveats and understand that it might also backfire.