Vertical Development

Vertical Development is different to horizontal development, which is normally what organisations receive, even if they think they are paying for Vertical Development. This page will give you an idea of the differences.

Developing people: 

  • from knowing “what” to think to learning “how” to think
  • from either/or polarity to “both-and” synthesis
  • from other-dependent interaction to autonomous thinking and doing
  • from habituated reactions to considered responses
  • from subjective experience to objective evaluation
  • from limited “Logical” thinking to expansive “dialectical” thinking
  • from downloading data to developing information and insights

Developing organisations: 

  • from static task factories to dynamic learning environments.
  • from irrational hierarchy to “purposeful” decision levels
  • from short-term aspiration to values-based innovation
  • from short-term shareholder to consumer orientation
  • from profit driven to values-based provision
  • from short-term survival to long-term sustainable strategy

When you talk about a Vertical Development Programme, what do you mean? 
First of all, let’s establish that we are talking about the development of people in the context of work within organisations, in a first world society. Whilst our primary focus is on the person involved in the programme, our secondary focus is equally important and must be on the development of the organisational infrastructure within which the person’s growth, and potential contribution, occurs.

What’s the philosophy behind your proposal?
Our philosophy is that the ongoing development of adults consists of increasing cognitive complexity, with a resultant enhanced social-emotional development. This growth comes from the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills in response to challenge. Enhanced cognitive development leads to, and goes hand in hand with, an ongoing enhancement of sense-of-self in the world.

We believe this growth, under optimal conditions, to be a “natural” function of the human condition that endures through life. Given the increasing complexity of the world, however, and the radical changes in our work environment, we believe the vast majority of people can benefit from, indeed may be in need of, external support if their growth is to continue unhindered.

Development Through Dialogue 

When the unceasing challenges of change are compounded by sub-optimal infrastructures in modern organisations, the potential contribution of both the people and the organisations are constrained and can benefit from external support. This support encourages and facilitates a move from mutual dependency in thought and deed to autonomous thinking and acting. A process of through a process of raising self-awareness of thinking patterns and limitations. As a result of this enhanced self-insight, clarity of purpose, flexibility of response and purposeful action come the bottom-line results for both person and organisation.

Do you have a model or hypothesis?
We operate from a hypothesis that states:

  • There are identifiable and measurable levels of adult development beyond adolescence that are sequential but not linear in their evolution. The speed of progression through those levels can be enhanced or slowed by default or by design. These levels define the behaviour and limit the potential capability of the person.
  • There are organisational infrastructures that offer employees the conditions within which they can express their full potential, for the benefit of both parties. Such environments support and encourage adult development and the increasing capability and potential contribution of the employees. The reverse is also true and can be found in most modern organisations.
  • There is a “natural” fit between the size of any organisational role and developmental size of the person recruited into it.
  • There is a need to actively match the developmental level of employees to the complexity of roles in order to take advantage of this synergy.
  • When the natural fit between role and person is achieved, work is likely to be both more productive and more enjoyable. Such a fit will avoid the risk of stagnation and regression and continue the “Vertical Development” of both employees and the organisation.

The models we acknowledge belong in the fields of psychology, adult development, systems thinking and communications theory. Our emphasis owes a particular debt to models by Laske et al, Kegan, Jan-de-Visch, Maslow. Hall.

Ysgol means “school” and “ladder” in Welsh. Perfect!

What is our strategy for developing people? 

  • The programme takes as its basis a two year timescale between programme planning and final measurement of results. The programme operates on the basis of a five to ten year worldview.
  • Before the programme starts, each participant will have a project, with a duration of at least one year and a set of personal development criteria. Ideally the individual projects will form part of a collaborative group project.
  • All projects and personal development criteria will be set by the “manager-once-removed,” in order to ensure commitment and resources and avoid potential restrictions resulting from self-interest of immediate managers.
  • The outcomes of the projects must relate to the bottom line performance of the organisation and be measurable in meaningful financial terms.
  • The personal development criteria will form part of the ongoing appraisal in the normal role and will ideally be undertaken by the manager who set them. The manager-once-removed.
  • Whilst limited “knowledge” material will be provided in the programme, in the form of handouts or reference documents, the group will have several tutor-led sessions where relevant topics are introduced for their further research and consideration. The topics will be decided based on the assessment of group need.

Finally, the methodology outlined here is fluid as development should be in constant flux and incremental learnings. The best way to do grow your thinking is by way of a guided facilitation programme. If it’s not dynamic, it’s not complex! Give us a call today to find out more.