Category Archives: Blog

Volume assessments on social media: Cliquidity

By Maretha Prinsloo on October 11, 2019



In this third part of the 3-series blog on volume assessment and social networking, a practical solution is presented, aimed at meeting some of the associated requirements of individuals and organisations.

Cliquidity offers organisations low cost mass recruitment services aimed at online access to potential employees; holistic psychological pre-employment screening; competency-based filtering of CV and biographical information; competency-based searches for job candidates; as well as internal talent audits; selection and placement of potential role players; and automated talent management. These functions are aimed at optimising recruitment practices while reducing the administrative burden on HR. Additional functionalities might be added, such as the verification of personal profiles and assessment results through reputational scoring and data visualisation capability.

The competency-based searches involve the integration of candidates’ educational and work history, their work-related preferences, personal circumstances and holistic assessment results. These strategic searches hold significant financial benefits for organisations as they are designed to inform and facilitate performance predictions of the candidates selected, thus helping to mitigate the placement risks of the employer. It may also render their reliance on expensive, time-consuming and often somewhat random placement and search practices obsolete, especially in areas of rare skills.

In addition, organisations may wish to categorise information on specific types of candidates to create virtual talent pools for employment purposes.

Instead of job seekers carrying the burden of contacting employers, organisations may thus gradually adopt the responsibility of actively searching for suitable people. The ease and effectiveness of the processes will inevitably contribute to the strategic agility of organisations.

Besides recruitment, HR may also require a good understanding of their existing talent component. HR-instigated talent audits using volume assessments provide critical information for organisational purposes of promotion, succession, team compilation, job structuring, as well as for personal and team development. Visual analytics of the competencies of employees within the organisation and the industry will also have clear strategic-information benefits.

For individuals and job seekers using Cliquidity, the emphasis is on self-assessment and insight, networking with like-minded others, and the user-specified visibility of an individual’s profile and assessment results to potential employers and contacts. An individual can create a personal profile on Cliquidity by entering as much or as little personal information with which they feel comfortable, and which will be appropriate for their chosen networking purposes. They can also complete any of the following assessments:

  • Personality: general description of behaviour in life, work and relationships
  • Motivation: energy and motivational drivers
  • Cognitive functioning: visual-spatial reasoning capability
  • Numerical reasoning: capability to represent and solve problems numerically
  • Vocational Interests: interest in broad career fields and specific occupations
  • Entrepreneurial Orientation: commercial and business inclination; and
  • Performance Risk: risk propensity and risk taking

The assessments mostly require 10 to 30 minutes per test to complete. The person may decide which of these assessments they would like to do and can on completion immediately download their reports free of charge. They may also decide to track their development over time by redoing some of the assessments. In addition, they may choose to share their reports with others or with potential employers. Plus, they may choose to advertise their information among employers registered with Cliquidity. Personal confidentiality is assured because all users remain in control of their personal data and assessment results.

To find potential dating-, activity- or work-partners, it may be useful for individual users to thoroughly complete their biographical profile and the Personality, and Motivation assessments. With regard to job seeking, studies have shown that the majority of job openings are filled by word of mouth. The chances of job seekers who do not have the necessary connections to recommend the merits of appointing them, thereby eliciting the employer’s trust, are therefore diminished. The networking opportunities offered by Cliquidity can, however, be harnessed to grow the personal networks of job seekers. This may constitute a valuable job search resource because networking and relationship building tends to unlock viable career opportunities for job seekers.

Also, job applicants are not always aware of available employment opportunities. To be identified by recruiters and invited to complete certain assessments may thus be viewed as a welcome opportunity.

In addition, compiling CVs that will attract the attention of potential employers is particularly difficult for candidates who have few resources or little work experience. Over time, the situation is compounded by the fact that those without experience who subsequently fail to be employed tend to lose their skills and enthusiasm. However, having an anonymous online presence combined with assessment results which indicate the potential to develop certain work-related competencies, can greatly enhance an individual’s chances of being noticed by employers who conduct competency searches on social media platforms.

Job seekers are advised to enter information regarding their educational and career background as well as their work-related values and interest. It may also be useful for them to complete the Vocational Interest, Personality, Motivation, and Cognitive assessments. Should the desired position entail numerical calculations, it is advisable for them to also complete the Numerical reasoning assessment. This will enhance their chances of being identified by potential employers who do automated competency-based recruitment searches on the Cliquidity platform. Potential employers may then electronically request an introduction with the person (who is still anonymous at this stage) or send them the particular job profile in question to which the candidate may choose to respond or not.

Besides the benefits held by an individual’s personal profile and assessment results for career purposes, Cliquidity also offers a search function to identify and connect with certain types of people in terms of a variety of criteria; the sharing of personal reports with others; and issuing connection invitations to others. A function aimed at reputational scoring of the validity of personal information and assessment results may also be added to the system in future.

A person’s assessment results thus contribute to self-insight and inform potential connections and business opportunities, while allowing every user the necessary control to protect personal data and optimise intentional networking. It also reduces the risk of pursuing interaction with unsuitable others. The reputational scoring facility will further add value in this regard.

Educational institutions and government initiatives aimed at employment, also need to capitalise on psychological information related to the candidate’s potential to enjoy and perform well within a specific career field. Since career guidance services are only available to a small proportion of school- and university leavers and job seekers, access to a free online career assessment service by perhaps vocationally-uncertain or unskilled individuals can potentially prevent years of unfulfilling work in unsuitable job-roles.

The Cliquidity application can thus provide the necessary automated assessments, analytics and networking functionalities to meet the above-mentioned needs of both individuals and organisations. It is based on SMAC technologies (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) and offers a host of benefits associated with these technologies.


Volume assessments on social media: Organisational use of volume assessment platforms

By Maretha Prinsloo on October 11, 2019



Create a virtual talent pool and grow your leadership pipeline through volume recruitment and informed talent management.

Volume assessment platforms, which enable the low cost and holistic screening of candidates in terms of biographical and psychological criteria, now offer significant benefits to businesses as well as governmental and educational institutions. Such assessment platforms can be designed to clarify and visually represent the talent pool that otherwise remains obscure, thereby contributing to the contextualisation and leverage of human potential across the spectrum.

In this second part of the 3-series blog on volume assessment on social media, the focus will be on networking for recruitment, talent management and other HR purposes in both the private and public sectors.


Business usage

People are generally regarded as one of the most important assets of any business; therefore, it is of strategic importance for companies to leverage the value offered by their people in order to drive organisational sustainability.  A crucial prerequisite for this is to gather meaningful information about people and use this information for optimising job performance, job satisfaction and employee engagement.

Talent management in organisations normally involves HR initiatives aimed at attracting, developing, motivating and retaining talent. This includes recruitment, selection, placement, performance management, team compilation, succession, employee engagement, training and remuneration functions. Talent management thereby informs and optimises various aspects of organisational development, with the goal of ensuring its viability in the long term.

For an integrated HR approach, talent management initiatives should be aligned with the organisation’s value proposition coupled with its strategic intent, business structure and culture. This requires HR practitioners to fully understand the core competence of the organisation as well as its business processes and contextual challenges; all of which will in turn determine the role-related competency requirements of various job families at various levels of work complexity.

Therefore, to create a competency framework for an organisation requires the identification of job families, levels of work complexity, as well as the careful clustering and integration of the various building blocks of competencies from which the individual’s competency scores can be calculated algorithmically. The building blocks of competencies include specific biographical features, knowledge, skills, attitudes and psychological factors. The psychometric anchoring and assessment of the competency requirements of work is an important prerequisite for the effective deployment of a strategic and agile talent management approach in an organisation.  This includes competency-based audits of current staff, mass recruitment, in-depth people assessment and placement, as well as compensation strategies. A well clarified, operationalised and measurable competency framework thus forms the foundation for the integration of all HR functions.

Mass recruitment and talent audits using volume assessments for screening, may provide a cost-effective big picture of the organisation’s internal talent component as well as its potential talent pool. The effectiveness of volume assessment depends on an integrated approach to the measurement of competencies, as single discrete assessments largely fail to capture the nature of a person’s special talents and orientation. Holistic screening techniques based on a variety of measurements should thus be used. These include biographical criteria such as personal profiles, educational exposure, and work experience, as well as psychological constructs (e.g. cognition, values and motivation). The screening techniques should gather, cluster, interpret, and verify information which should be both digitally accessible and capable of selective filtering while retaining the confidentiality of personal information.

Capitalising on social networks for recruitment purposes makes sense as most job seekers are members of a variety of digital social networks. In addition, big data or large volumes of information gathered on social media can be subjected to analytics to unlock its potential value by identifying sources of high-level performance in specific contexts. The contextual nature of performance should be emphasised, as employee engagement may depend significantly on the nature of the work in question as well as environmental factors such as the organisational culture, which can potentially energise or drain the energy of employees.

Competency-based screening tools thus provide valuable guidelines for organisational development through informed selection, placement, team compilation, succession, retention as well as personal and team development and deployment.

It goes without saying that the use of a mass recruitment or staff auditing system should ideally be integrated within the organisation’s website and reflect a strong employment brand. The user interface is critical. Ideally, it should be clear and easy to understand and navigate, be perceived as professional, and provide all the necessary information online.


To conclude

The key goals behind volume assessment and intentional social networking for employers and employees are to:

  • create accessibility and provide the necessary information to facilitate career and placement decisions aimed at building a healthy talent pipeline;
  • ensure employee engagement and retention; and
  • avoid succession risks related to vacuum and crowding effects.

Such a system should thus ideally involve effective and automated access to large volumes of potential job candidates, psychological assessment or screening, data and visual analytics, and people information management.

The functional aims of such a system include simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on HR practitioners while improving the candidate experience. In order to enhance business agility and talent mobility, the future world of work will also necessitate a well-informed and populated virtual talent pool with networking access shared by all.


Public sector usage

Not only the business sector, but also governmental and educational institutions can significantly benefit from the use of volume assessment platforms.

The public sector often requires in-depth information of the population, whether for political purposes such as gathering information on public opinion and policy effectiveness or specific electoral and socio-economic purposes related, for example, to education, job creation, employment and productivity; social service administration, the health and welfare of its citizens, law and order, and infrastructure planning. This information is required to be gathered quickly, economically, and dynamically; with social media platforms now the obvious choice for information acquisition, analytics, and dissemination.

The use of biographically and psychologically based volume assessment platforms by the public sector holds the benefit of providing in-depth data of individual profiles and therefore population characteristics. For example, data- and visual-analytics can be invaluable for helping policymakers better discover/understand important features of an electorate; along with the interests, potential and talents of the school- and university-leaving population; and in turn, job market requirements.

It therefore makes sense for government and educational institutions to consider the use of low-cost information services, provided by secure assessment and networking platforms which hold benefits at both micro- and macro levels.

In countries characterised by cultural diversity, unemployment and educational challenges, the large-scale implementation of information and networking systems on social media is thus crucial for addressing the stochastic drift of declining economies.


Volume assessments on social media: Personal use

By Maretha Prinsloo on October 8, 2019



Networking” is nowadays probably one of the most frequently used terms in human resource management circles. The focus of this 3-part blog series is on volume assessment and networking for personal and organisational purposes.

In part 1, the individual use of assessments on social media for purposes of career guidance, job application, personal development and social networking is discussed.

In part 2, the deployment of mass assessments by businesses for recruitment, pre-employment screening, competency matching, organisational audits, succession planning and the creation of virtual talent pools, is addressed. Also touched on, is mass assessment within the educational milieu for purposes of career guidance and unlocking employment opportunities. Finally, government initiatives aimed at addressing population audits, unemployment and large-scale educational needs, is described.

In part 3, a particular volume assessment and social networking platform will be introduced, namely: Cliquidity; which has been specifically designed to meet the assessment and networking requirements discussed in parts 1 and 2 of this blog series.



The term networking refers to the total process of creating and utilising computer networks, including the hardware, software, wired and wireless technologies, according to certain theoretical principles found within technological fields such as computer science, electrical and electronic engineering and information technology.

Social networking, as referred to in this blog series, utilises computer and communication networks for enabling the processes of information exchange and social interaction. Through networking, information is made widely accessible, creating perceptions, aligning opinions, and connecting and empowering individuals and groups. It is often used for the purposes of initiating political movements; for marketing, advertising and commercial transactions; as well as for communication, entertainment, social bonding, educational, sport, business, relaxation and career-related purposes.  Used strategically, networking can potentially unlock powerful mechanisms within the world of work and beyond. Our networking activities make us feel well-informed, in control of our world, and accepted and supported by others.

No wonder then that social media platform organisations have become some of the most powerful forces in society. Examples include global social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+; with microblogging on Tumblr and Twitter; video sharing through YouTube, Facebook Live, Periscope and Vimeo; and photo sharing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.  Currently, billions of people globally spend a substantial proportion of their time using social media.

Networking has thus become a fixture in all aspects of our lives as it holds the potential for unlimited exposure and opportunity – for both personal and business purposes.


Personal use of online assessment and networking

Social networking facilitates a wide range of interpersonal transactions for a variety of purposes. It allows us to introduce ourselves and connect with interesting others and to follow their activities and thoughts. It also allows us to identify potential partners, whether it be for purposes of dating, business, sport, hobbies or other activities. Networking allows access to information; to professional associations or interest groups. It accelerates the exchange of ideas; enables the sharing of media offerings; and assists us to explore, make decisions, relax and enjoy, as well as to relate with one another.  A person’s career and personal life may thus benefit from adopting a networking lifestyle aimed at sharing and collaboration.

From a psychological perspective, a fair degree of social networking is, however, uninformed. The quality of social networking transactions can thus substantially be improved through the use of assessments to help in better understanding oneself, one’s own interests, work- or activity related opportunities as well as obtaining a more in-depth understanding of those one chooses to interact with.

It is for this purpose that the Cliquidity application has been developed.

Cliquidity is a platform on social media aimed at facilitating intentional social networking. It has been created in order to facilitate the ease and effectiveness with which individuals can complete psychological assessments and access their reports. Enabling a deeper understanding of themselves; helping them make informed networking and career decisions; and crafting personal and business opportunities through the sharing of reports with potential partners, employers and employees; all the while maintaining full control over their personal information.



Intellectual Capital Management: Cognadev’s Assessment Products and Constructs

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 17, 2019


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In this final blog of the 4-part series, the assessment products which were referred to in part 3 are examined in more detail.

Job Analysis by means of the Contextualised Competency Mapping (CCM) tool and integrated reporting via the Integrative Competency Report (ICR), offers the following.


  • determines the SST level of complexity of a job or functional job family
  • specifies the role-related competency requirements of a role at the applicable SST level
  • matches individual assessment profiles to the job requirements
  • compares the cognitive suitability of various candidates to the job requirements
  • identifies the required team development initiatives
  • enables competency-based performance evaluations through an online 360- degree questionnaire
  • informs reporting on the person’s competency-based match to a specific role


An example of the CCM items

9 Examples of the 46 competency requirements as reflective of 6 categories of functioning

 Examples of generic competency definitions

An example of the behavioural components of a competency at the Tactical Strategy level of work

Innovation applied at Tactical strategy

Applying an enterprising and original approach to initiate change by exploring and formulating new ideas and tactical strategies to continuously improve systems functioning, professional application or business unit performance.

  • continuous critical evaluation of the effectiveness of systems and processes
  • benchmark and implement improved systems
  • reorganise operational structures and processes
  • change tactics in allocating resources
  • experiment in leveraging resources and people skills creatively
  • apply an entrepreneurial and experimental approach
  • spot opportunities
  • show personal resilience and resourcefulness
  • show energy and optimism
  • identify and capitalise on untapped resources
  • show change awareness
  • use effective communication
  • ensure wide adoption of best practices
  • build a culture of improvement
  • reward creative contributions
  • challenge the status quo
  • show risk awareness
  • monitor transition processes

Cognadev’s approach to holistic assessment


Cognadev’s holistic assessment battery


Assessment products: Cognitive assessment by using the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP) and/or Learning Orientation Index (LOI)

The CPP and LOI have been developed for the purpose of measuring cognitive processes, styles, learning potential and complexity capabilities. Both assessments involve automated simulation exercises which externalise and track thinking processes. The results for both assessments are interpreted by algorithmic expert systems; with detailed explanatory reports (CPP and LOI) provided to support a number of HR objectives including selection, placement, career pathing and personal or team development.

Read more on the cognitive assessment approach in an article published in the journal Integral Leadership Review and in a whitepaper published on the Cognadev website.


Assessment products: Values assessment by using the Values Orientation (VO)

For purposes of the measurement of values and culture, otherwise referred to as levels of consciousness, the Value Orientations (VO) tool has been developed. It is based on a host of developmental models from psychology, consciousness theory and the spiritual traditions – the Spiral Dynamics (SD) model in particular. The VO measures and reports upon worldviews, values, perceptual systems, decision making frameworks and cultural memes. Further model and assessment information can be found in a paper published in the journal Integral Leadership Review.

The Spiral Dynamics (SD) model


Motivational assessment by using the Motivational Profile (MP)

… motivation may be just as important to job performance as ability

                                                Paul Barrett (2017)

The Motivational Profile (MP) is a non-transparent psychological tool with a Jungian flavour. It is based on the use of archetypes or metaphors and measures aspects of personal functioning for which self-reporting by a test candidate is not suitable. Many different aspects of motivational drive and energy are addressed by the MP. Graphics of the person’s motivational drivers in life, work and relationship are shown below, followed by the graphic representation of the dynamic personality patterns as specified by the Enneagram. Besides these two graphically depicted constructs, the MP also measures and reports upon many other aspects of motivational drive.


The assessment tools available on the Cliquidity volume-assessment platform


An example of an Integrated Competency Report (ICR)

A person’s assessment results on the above-mentioned tools (and several others that are available in the market) are algorithmically linked to the SST related competencies of the job/job family. The competency scores are thus holistically informed by all the various psychological aspects involved, as this example report shows.


The above-mentioned products thus inform the HR Trends of the future as identified by a Deloitte survey in 2017


Additional readings on assessment practices

Cognition: Why you should hire for potential, not experience

Values and culture: Cultural Fit: A must for candidate selection

Motivation: Motivation assessment just got a whole lot more important



Intellectual Capital Management: Practical guidelines for an Intellectual Capital Management solution

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 17, 2019

©metamorworks /


In this third blog of the 4-part series, we outline our practical guidelines for helping choose an assessment solution.

In order to manage talent, one needs to understand both the work-related requirements and the psychological factors involved. The assessment of these aspects offers a solid foundation for the entire value chain of people- or talent management. We recommend an assessment solution which is guided by the following principles:

  • Cognitive functioning forms an integral and important part of work performance. It refers to a dynamic, adaptive and multi-dimensional factor incorporating intellectual, motivational and consciousness factors, all of which need to be contextualised. A holistic approach is thus required for its measurement and management in the work environment.
  • Besides the psychological factors, cognitive functioning at work is also affected by a wide range of variables such as previously acquired knowledge and skills; physical health and well-being; nutritional factors; past and future exposure and learning opportunities; socio-economic background and circumstances; educational and cultural factors; relationships, love and acceptance by significant others; and spiritual factors related to a personal sense of purpose, to mention but a few.
  • The work and home environments in which a person operates are therefore crucial as cognitive functioning cannot be separated from its context or seen in isolation.
  • To leverage the concept of Intelligence in the work environment involves more than merely “how intelligent” a person is. Each person is perfectly suited to a particular kind of work. Appropriate and sufficient information is thus required to understand, position and develop cognitive functioning.
  • Conventional Psychometric test methodologies are often flawed and rely on limited techniques. The idea is to move away from such inadequate and cross-culturally loaded test practices and to cease assessing educationally acquired skills as is the case with various intelligence test methodologies.
  • More robust methodologies are required, based upon validated theoretical models and automated simulation techniques which operationalise, externalise and track thinking processes. Given the complexities involved in mental functioning, the analysis of candidate responses by means of algorithmic expert systems, AI or machine learning and fuzzy logic, will contribute to the richness in interpretations of assessment results.
  • The ultimate goal of an assessment battery remains that of discovering and mapping the unique territory of an individual mind to honour and position their distinctive repertoire of talents in a way which will facilitate the full realisation of their potential.


The implementation of these principles, as part of an Intellectual Capital Management solution, may involve the following action steps and products, or assessment methodologies:

1. The training and accreditation of HR practitioners in terms of the underlying theory, measurement and utilisation of the constructs which underlie competence at work. For this purpose, Cognadev provides in-depth e-Learning courses on cognition, motivational drive and levels of consciousness, otherwise referred to as valuing systems. The models and methodologies covered by these courses are at present not yet addressed by university courses.

2. Facilitated discussions between HR and line functions are required to contextualise the entire talent management approach. Here the focus should be on the nature and prospects of the industry, the organisational value- proposition, and the core competence of the organisation. The core organisational competencies will inform the job-specific competency requirements to which candidate profiles can be compared. For this purpose, functional job families also need to be identified.

3. This is followed by a job-analysis to determine the Stratified Systems Theory (SST) levels of work complexity of specific job families, as well as the identification of 10 to 12 job-related competency requirements of those roles or job families. The competency definitions need to reflect the correct SST level of work of a position or role, to inform job specs and facilitate the appointment of suitable role players. This is done by means of the Contextualised Competency Mapping (CCM) tool of Cognadev.

4. An organisational audit by means of a volume assessment system further contributes towards an understanding of the talent within the organisation. In addition, a mass recruitment exercise aimed at creating a virtual talent pool, may be useful. Together these mass assessment initiatives will resolve the typical succession problems related to crowding and vacuum. The creation of virtual talent pools will become more critical as the new world of work, characterised by a-typical organisational structures around project-based undertakings, emerges. Cognadev provides a volume assessment tool, called Cliquidity, which holistically assesses candidates and possesses the required functionalities to enable organisational audits and the creation of virtual talent pools.

5. In terms of the assessment of people, cognition, motivation as well as values and culture, need to be addressed as these three factors form a crucial foundation of any intellectual capital management solution:

  • The culture of the organisation is best determined by assessing the executive as well as representative groups of employees from various regions or functional units. Understanding the organisational culture requirements will optimise selection, placement, team compilation, leadership, developmental, and succession solutions within the organisation. For this purpose, Cognadev provides the Value Orientation (VO) assessment tool which is largely based on the Spiral Dynamics (SD) model.
  • Seeing that the proposed Intellectual Capital Management approach mainly rests on levels of work complexity, the cognitive preferences and capabilities of candidates need to be assessed. For the cognitive assessment of existing staff, Cognadev provides the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP) while the assessment of school and university leavers can be undertaken by means of the Learning Orientation Index (LOI). For purposes of mass recruitment and organisational audits, a low-cost volume assessment, the Cliquidity Adaptive Reasoning Assessment (CARA) can be used.
  • Motivation too, is a critical prerequisite of work performance. Constructs related to drive and energy; factors that could energise a person or drain their energy, self-insight, energy themes, defence mechanisms, life scripts, dynamic personality patterns, EQ and motivational patterns, amongst others, can be measured using a non-transparent assessment tool, called the Motivational Profile (MP).

6. Assessment results need to be reported upon by integrating the cognitive, values and motivational profiles of role players with the competency requirements of their work. If possible, not only the psychological results, but information on a candidate’s knowledge and experience as well as performance ratings should be covered by the integrated reports. Seeing that it can be a tiresome and time-consuming job to compile hand-written reports, Cognadev has developed an automated report generator, namely the Integrated Competency Report (ICR). These integrated person-job matching competency reports are also very useful for feedback purposes and for future performance discussions between assessment candidates and their managers.

7. Individualised feedback to test candidates contributes to their personal development as it enhances self-insight, informs their career and development decisions and optimises interpersonal functioning. Feedback can be done through the provision of written reports, or more ideally, through personal discussions with HR practitioners and/or managers. At executive levels the involvement of a psychologist or an executive coach may be required. Group feedback can also be provided and create an opportunity for team development.

8. Performance evaluations in terms of job-related competencies further contribute to Intellectual Capital Management. 360 Degree online performance questionnaires, completed by the individuals themselves, their peers, managers and subordinates, may also contribute to employee performance, self-insight and engagement. Performance discussions aimed at realistic and honest feedback on the person’s strengths and development areas are aimed at culminating in a developmental plan. The CCM job analysis tool offers a 360 Degree competency evaluation questionnaire.

9. The above-mentioned competency-based approach to talent and intellectual capital management, will enable the integration and alignment of all HR functions, including:

  • recruitment
  • selection and placement or talent acquisition and retention
  • succession planning and promotion
  • performance management
  • individual and team development
  • team compilation
  • career guidance and development
  • job structuring
  • organisational development (OD) as well as
  • remuneration and compensation.

10. The entire approach should ideally be accompanied by a ROI evaluation and reporting.

Intellectual Capital Management: Holistic Assessment

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 17, 2019

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Intelligence is typically dealt with in work and educational environments by using IQ tests aimed at measuring “ability”.  It seems that academics and HR practitioners have bought into the concept of IQ wholesale. This implies that they tend to accept that candidates who can speedily/swiftly apply logical-analytical, convergent reasoning to highly structured, domain specific test content (such as verbal, numerical and spatial IQ test items), will outperform others with lower IQ test scores. IQ is thus seen as a one-dimensional continuum; a view that has unfortunately globally permeated the understanding of cognitive functioning.

The acceptance of this view is probably based on decades of research findings that IQ tests are better predictors of work performance than say Personality test results; that there is a general factor underlying all cognitive functioning, referred to as g or general intelligence; and that different socio-economic and race groups show different levels of intelligence.

These perceptions are, however, flawed; as IQ tests assess only a small component of the cognitive skills required in complex, dynamic and vague work environments. Findings regarding g or general intelligence are also largely a function of the comparable types of test items used to measure intelligence and the statistical techniques, namely correlations and factor analyses, utilised to analyse the results. Cross-cultural differences in IQ may also be linked to the decontextualised item content and the limited nature of conventional test psychometrics.

The result of using these IQ type tests for selection purposes may just result in what Professor Robert Sternberg refers to as gathering “smart idiots”. “Cleverness”, as traditionally and narrowly based on IQ, has never impressed Sternberg. He comments: “…people who have high IQs, they have test scores and degrees, but put them in a job or a relationship and they make a mess of it.” He concludes that to “…prevent clever people falling into the fallacies of their own egocentrism, omniscience, omnipotence and invulnerability” all of which he regards as stages of stupidity, they “need to develop wisdom.”

If IQ tests have failed society, what would then best predict a person’s cognitive functioning within the work environment? To answer this question, it may be useful to list the various research questions that have been posed in intelligence research. Included are questions regarding the:

  • what” of intelligence as embraced by Differential psychology and the IQ tradition.
  • how” of thinking as reflected by the Information Processing paradigm, and cognitive and computational neuroscience;
  • when” of cognitive capacity explored by Developmental psychologists such as Piaget and Vygotsky; and the
  • where” of competence as researched by the Contextualist school.

Each of these approaches to cognitive functioning, is characterised by specific assessment and development practices. The diversity of opinions in addressing a concept as fuzzy as intelligence have thus provided many useful insights, but the research community has so far failed to agree on a definition of intelligence, leaving us with a “many worlds” conclusion.

Given the weaknesses inherent to IQ testing, combined with the seeming lack of adequate alternative assessment methodologies, most HR practitioners have thus turned to structured interviews and assessment centres – especially at executive levels. These two test methodologies are rooted in the Contextualist school with its emphasis on competence.

Structured interviews involve discussions of a person’s career progress and work experience as well as their work-related preferences and ambitions.  However, factors that may interfere with the validity of structured interview outcomes include the inherent unstandardised form of the assessment; the test candidate’s verbal skills and eloquence; retrospective justification of own performance; exaggeration of own work-related responsibilities and skills; the rapport between the interviewee and the interviewer; the subjective opinions of the interviewer; and therefore the interrater reliability of the assessment results.

Assessment centres involve the application of job-related skills as observed by evaluators. Although assessment centre methodologies largely involve real performance, which enhances the validity of the assessment approach, the cost of such exercises has in many cases resulted in the use of questionnaires that are electronically mailed to respondents for written answers. There is thus no way to ensure that the responses are those of the actual candidate. In addition, the interpretation of both real and written responses relies upon a test candidate’s previous experience and thus does not necessarily indicate their future potential, plus the responses are subjectively interpreted by evaluators.

Quite simply, what is required in the work environment is relevant information on a person’s cognitive functioning which supersedes that of: limited IQ test results that are notoriously cross-culturally biased; the subjective opinions of facilitators on self-report information regarding a person’s own cognitive functioning (as is typical of interview situations); and the application of previous management skills – which do not predict learning potential.

Ideally, an Intellectual Capital Management approach should involve:

  • skilled and informed HR practitioners;
  • an understanding of the industry, the value proposition of the organisation as well as its core competencies;
  • the job-related or functional competency requirements of work at various levels of complexity (e.g. as specified by a model of job complexity);
  • an understanding of the organisation’s potential talent pool – both currently and in the future;
  • holistic assessment of all individuals – not only cognition, but also in terms of levels of consciousness or values, as well as motivation;
  • the matching of people and job profiles;
  • job structuring where necessary;
  • developmental initiatives including performance feedback, training, coaching, mentoring, multiskilling and knowledge transfer platforms; as well as
  • continuous measurement, feedback and ROI evaluation.

In terms of the holistic assessment of people, as mentioned above, information on the following aspects are particularly relevant:

  • Knowledge and skills, in other words, educational and work experience;
  • Cognitive functioning which includes cognitive preferences, complexity capabilities and learning potential. These aspects will inform the work environment which the person is best suited to – be that of an operational or strategic nature;
  • Motivational factors, including current energy; factors that drain and energise the person; their degree of self-insight; their interests; their dynamic personality patterns; and their motivational profile;
  • Values and levels of consciousness which informs a person’s worldview and determines how they will perceive matters, make decisions and apply their talents in the work context.

Practical guidelines for how to approach assessment of these attributes are set out in part 3 of this series, with part 4 detailing the assessment products themselves.

Intellectual Capital Management: An Introduction to Cognition in the Work Environment

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 17, 2019

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“In the past, ‘human potential’ was an empty catch phrase in the face of such stultifying concepts as ‘general intelligence’. No longer is it the case that IQ is destiny.”

– Neil Lightfoot 


In our quest for survival, the tyranny of “the sweat of one’s brow” has over the centuries yielded to the power of the mind. An appropriate intellectual approach has thus become a prerequisite for present-day work performance, especially in complex environments. However, intellectual prowess alone, offers few guarantees.  In this article we review what Psychology has to offer in explaining, positioning and optimising the potential impact of the human mind.

In this 4-part blog the focus will be on:

  • an introduction to cognition in the work environment; followed by
  • the theory and practice of holistic assessment;
  • practical guidelines for the application of an intellectual capital management solution within the work environment; and
  • assessment constructs and products.

Intelligence is often regarded as the apex of evolutionary progression thus far.  But, although the human mind has improved our chances of survival on this planet, there are also signs of its potential to further our demise.

Human intellect has shaped a world where medicine (via antibiotics) has effectively removed the threat of the disease-causing bacteria which shortened our lives, but antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now a dangerous by-product of our solutions. The mind has found ingenious ways to feed, clothe, shelter, entertain, secure and enrich ourselves and to optimise our resources, but are those practices sustainable? Through brainpower, man has cleverly digitised information and uncovered many secrets of space-time and the universe in which we live. First world citizens are now healthy, wealthy, guilty and insecure. We can invite remote places into our living rooms, harbor lofty ideas about migration into space and maybe even acquire neural implants to enhance our brain power. But self-destruction remains an enduring possibility.

Our solutions seem to create new challenges which increasingly call for more integrated and insightful perspectives. To resolve these, we rely on intellectual power. But how can we develop and optimise our thinking, worldviews and consciousness?

Many factors may contribute to cognitive development, including socialisation within a cultural milieu where certain values apply; interpersonal interaction; our genetically determined cognitive potential; education; nutrition; environmental stimulation; and motivational drive rooted in emotional and physical needs.

While intellectual functioning can be limited by physical factors such as trauma, inadequate nutrition and/or genetically related system limits, it seems that social factors such as love, social interaction, language and culture probably affect mental development in the most powerful way. Educational systems, which form part of the cultural context, also play an important role.

However, it seems that the focus of education, in large parts of the world, is on knowledge transfer within specific domains or disciplines. An emphasis of analytical thinking at the detriment of integrative thinking, intuition, emotional intelligence and consciousness is also commonly found. Sorely neglected by higher education is the wisdom that comes from a transdisciplinary perspective; a recognition of the dynamic complexity of our personal, organisational and societal challenges; and a transcendent awareness.

One of the effects of such a one-sided educational and thus intellectual approach is that it has produced impressive technical solutions, but often without the wisdom to apply it to our own benefit. So where is the disconnect? Why have we ended up in a society where the big fixes that so often fail, are justified by the politics of power.

Power is brutal and can only be subjugated by a deeper awareness and understanding. But in a world where power is in control of intelligence, wisdom is conspicuous by its absence. Intelligence can only be harnessed effectively to generate sustainable solutions from which all will benefit, if it is purposefully directed by transcendent consciousness.

An intellectual capital management solution aimed at enhancing the work performance of employees, as well as the long-term implications of their work, should therefore be rooted in an understanding of both consciousness and cognition.  

An Organizational Culture Solution: Research Findings and Case Studies

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 10, 2019

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Companies differ vastly in terms of organisational culture and even within one organisation, there may be subcultures. The 20 case studies summarised below illustrate this fact.


How values and culture were measured

There are various ways in which to determine the nature of an organisational culture including surveys and psychological assessments. The studies presented here, were conducted by Cognadev and capitalise on the theoretical framework provided by Graves’s Spiral Dynamics (SD) model. Assessments were done using Cognadev’s Value Orientations (VO) tool. The samples consisted of employees representing executive leadership, and in some cases, both management and operational levels in the organisation.

The VO reflects not only the underlying theoretical structure of the SD model of Graves, but also incorporates insights from a number of developmental models in Psychology, in Consciousness theory and in various Spiritual traditions. Almost all these models are characterised by an underlying holonic structure where each level or system both transcends and incorporates the previous levels. According to the philosopher Ken Wilber this is the basic organisational structure in of the world.

The VO measures the worldviews, levels of consciousness, organising principles, belief structures, perceptual systems, decision making frameworks and valuing orientations of individuals. Values refer to what the individual or group regard as true, good and beautiful, thus important. The findings are summarised here in terms of the SD colours.

The following 20 studies were conducted in different industries, companies, job categories and geographical areas. The results are reported on through simple graphics which are commented on briefly. The emphasis is on the accepted value orientations and the rejected orientations are not shown here (except in Study 19). A more comprehensive document describing these studies can be found here.


It therefore seems that broad regional impacts on the culture of organisations and career groups are quite powerful, especially where the business focus is of an operational nature for the bulk of the workforce. An organisational culture may thus mirror the socio-geographical culture in the case of the mining, production and manufacturing industries.

Various career groups may show different value orientations depending on the employment category involved, such as management, specialist or professional work. These differences may, however, be mitigated by regional or organisational culture.

Highly qualified executives, often with experience across disciplines, industries and regions tend to show values that are similar to that of the organisational culture. This may be due to natural selection as well as HR practices regarding placement and promotion of those showing certain orientations. These executives may in fact also play a key role in determining organisational culture. At times, executives show meta-level Yellow or rarely even Turquoise values, by which the culture of the organisation is managed and calibrated to optimise organisational functioning.

An Organizational Culture Solution: Practical Guidelines for Managing Values and Culture

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 10, 2019

©ChonnieArtwork /


Key goals in talent management include the facilitation of leadership solutions; people engagement and development; the creation of diverse, integrated, energised, responsive and resilient teams, as well as constructing meaningful and effective functional systems to contribute to organizational, societal and environmental sustainability. The concepts of values and culture are of critical importance in achieving these goals.

Human Resources (HR) practitioners thus need to understand individual and organizational values to predict whether a person will flourish in a particular type of role and work environment, so as to make effective placement decisions and to create high performance teams and functional systems. Such understanding is also required to optimise diversity management, succession and the creation of trust and enthusiasm in the work context.

To enable this, the value orientations or worldviews of individuals and teams need to be assessed and analysed. To this end, Cognadev offers the Value Orientations (VO) assessment instrument which is based on the Spiral Dynamics (SD) model of Graves as well as on other psychological and consciousness development models.

The VO assesses a person in terms of their preferences for seven fundamentally different world views or value orientations, each of which underlies unique and complex systems of behavior, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts. Cultivating an awareness of the value orientation one espouses, goes a long way in enhancing self-insight and awareness and sheds light on the origins of one’s dreams, joys, frustrations and aspirations as well as the nature of one’s interpersonal relationships and life journey in general. Assessment results may contribute to greater depth in understanding of others too, thereby enhancing emotional intelligence and effectiveness within interpersonal contexts. Creating a critical mass of people within the organization who understand the issue of values and the importance of integrated diversity, could significantly contribute to productivity and organizational effectiveness.

Sustainable systems, be those organizations, nations or teams, normally show internal diversity in terms of value orientations. According to Graves, the author of the SD model, effective systems require a variety of value orientations to enrich the adaptive response of the organization to different contextual challenges, thereby ensuring its strategic agility. A prerequisite, however, is the integration of the entire system through leadership coupled with the psychological literacy of those involved.

Role players who understand and accept alternative value orientations, can contribute in bridging the divide to facilitating integration and collaboration across different clusters of world views.  The assessment of values is thus an important first step in creating a talent map. Data visualization of team and organizational profiles too, are interesting and useful in this regard.

Before embarking on the assessment and analysis of the values and culture within the organization, HR practitioners, however, often pose the following questions:


What is meant by a culture fit?

A cultural fit between employees and the organization means that those involved feel comfortable and energized within a social system characterized by certain norms and practices which they can agree upon and identify with, and where they can experience a sense of meaningful contribution to the collective goals.


Can people showing different value orientations collaborate effectively?

Some feel that the advice to hire people who match the organizational culture, versus the advice to capitalize on diversity, are contradictory.

A few points can be made in this regard. Diversity can be in terms of biographical characteristics such as gender, age and ethnic background or in terms of worldviews and values. The impact of biographical characteristics seems superficial when compared to the potential impact of value orientations. A valid framework of valuing systems is thus more useful in managing complex issues related to interpersonal resonance and work orientation, than that of biographical factors.

It should also be mentioned that although organizations and industries normally take on a particular broad value-orientation or culture, various functional units within those organizations may develop specific cultural identities.

Examples of broad cultural memes include the Red-Orange cultures of most western Manufacturing, Production and Sales companies; the Yellow-Orange of IT and Technology, and the Green combined with Red or Turquoise of NGOs. Departments or functional units within organizations are often also characterized by certain value orientations, such as the Blue-Green values required for customer support; the Purple-Blue of routinised operational environments; and the Yellow-Orange or Yellow-Blue of most executive leadership roles.

To be more specific, whereas internal audit may require role players who are rigorous, compliant, analytical and structured – as is reflected by the Blue value orientation on the Spiral Dynamics (SD) model, a marketing and advertising role may require risk-takers characterized by personal energy, capable of dealing with uncertainty, failure and opportunity as well as the necessary politically savvy to ensure the adoption of win-win solutions,  all of which are associated with the Orange orientation of the SD model.

Employees who reject the values and culture of an organization or functional unit are likely to disengage from their work or leave the company.

Cultural diversity can best be harnessed when people with different worldviews understand and appreciate one another’s contributions within the bigger organizational picture. It is the role of HR to cultivate such a meta-perspective to facilitate tolerance across cultural divides.


Can the concept of culture fit be used to unfairly discriminate between groups?

This can indeed be the case, but not when people-job matching is carefully and objectively conducted to ensure the best possible fit between role players of functionally diverse roles. Special attention may be required to ensure that leadership is trusted by all and that there is collaboration across functional boundaries.


What is the impact of the executive team on organizational culture?

Those with valuing systems which clash with that of the organization often complain that their contributions are disregarded; they feel discriminated against and may find it difficult to support certain organizational strategies.  Employees thus tend to leave an organization should they not feel attuned to its norms, values and practices.

Those who are comfortable within the culture, and whose contributions are valued due to their contextual compatibility, tend to remain in the organization in the long term and some may be promoted to leadership roles. This can result in a coherent executive where most members share similar value orientations. Even in global organizations, executive teams often hold similar worldviews. Given the impact of the executive on organizational policies and practices, their values may further enhance the organizational culture.


When hiring, should the emphasis be on culture fit or on competence?

In the case of recruitment, selection and placement of school and university leavers or other newcomers who often lack the organization’s specific competencies, hiring in terms of compatible values may contribute to employee retention and engagement.


What is the danger of creating “cultural clones”?

People are complex and even though their value orientations may overlap, their personalities, competencies and experience largely differ. The functional requirements of various roles in the organization also differ, and by effectively assessing and matching people to the most suitable roles, the creation of “clones” is unlikely.


The implementation of a cultural solution: a case study

This case study describes the use of holistic assessment undertaken by Cognadev consultants, using value orientations, in particular, to help leverage the cultural transformation of a global Manufacturing firm.

An Organizational Culture Solution: Theory on Values and Culture

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 10, 2019

©ChonnieArtwork /


In 2014 the Merriam Webster’s dictionary identified “culture” as the most popular word of the year. Many contemporary HR publications too, focus on values and culture as keys to employee engagement, productivity and leadership. The recognition of value orientations is, however, by no means new in Social Sciences, in fact, publications as early as the 1800s can be found in this regard.

Many different models in psychology, consciousness theory and even the spiritual traditions describe levels of awareness and consciousness, constructs which are closely linked to value orientations. Examples include the work of Gebser on cultural memes, Loevinger on ego states, Kohlberg on moral development, Piaget and Perry on intellectual development, as well as May on consciousness development, to mention but a few. The Spiral Dynamics (SD) model as developed by Clare Graves, however, overlaps with all the above and is briefly summarised here to provide a broad framework for understanding the worldviews and valuing systems of people.


Spiral Dynamics

Dr Clare Graves’s comprehensive model of “biopsychosocial systems development”, can be represented as a spiral of various hierarchically organized levels of human existence. According to GravesThe psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

The various valuing systems involved, otherwise referred to as worldviews, organizing frameworks, belief structures, mindsets, perceptual filters, memes or decision-making frames, represent a continuously unfolding spectrum of consciousness and awareness. Each increasingly inclusive, consecutive sub-system or value orientation, integrates and transcends previous valuing systems. The entire spectrum involves a soft and dynamic hierarchy. The seven levels depicted by the SD model below are organized around eight broad themes.

Development up the spiral thus fluctuates between a focus on “I”, or the expressive systems on the left of the spiral, and “we” or the collective systems on the right of the spiral. Over time, new levels of consciousness may well emerge for both individuals and groups, as contextual requirements may render inappropriate valuing systems ineffectual.

Each of the above-mentioned value orientations of the SD model forms complex systems of behavior, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts. A detailed description of the various value orientations of the SD model goes beyond the scope of this article, though.

Valuing systems act as catalysts in determining how people can be expected to apply their intellect, talents and personality. By identifying the value orientations of individuals one is likely to predict those in the workplace that are best suited to challenges such as: doing routine work in a team context; relentlessly pursuing goals under difficult circumstances; maintaining the status quo by ensuring quality and controlling risk in a reliable and structured manner; showing a customer orientation; flexibly generating new strategies, and persuasively creating value for all stakeholders; building relationships, developing others and creating harmony at work; as well as integrating and understanding the dynamics of the whole system to identity the leverage necessary to initiate change. The SD model thus offers practical utility within the context of talent management.

Graves simplified the model by allocating different colours to each of the valuing systems of the SD model, in terms of which the behaviour of individuals, organizations, nations or any other socio-cultural group can be understood.

Below is a rather cryptic description of each of the valuing systems that forms part of the SD model of consciousness development (as it appears in the Value Orientations (VO) reports of assessment candidates):

As mentioned, development of increasingly encompassing valuing systems on the spiral, takes place by fluctuating between individualistic, self-expression value systems and collectively attuned value systems. Graves predicted that further value systems may emerge such as the Coral valuing system which may reflect the theme of intention, alignment and spiritual empowerment.

The eight value systems currently forming the spiral dynamics model are:

The next article describes how the SD model can be used to manage the organizational culture and values.