PM Chronicles #10: Development Triangles, by Wayne S. Pon and Fred Parker

On a video conference. Present are:

  • MC – Management Coach
  • OPS – Operations Manager
  • HR – Human Relations Manager
  • PM – Performance Manager
  • LT – Learning and Talent Development Coordinator
  • TC – Training Coordinator
  • HG – Consultant (Hired Gun)

PM         Hello everyone. Good to see you.

               As you know, we have decided to move ahead with our plans for leadership development, even as we continue our training efforts.

               I have a special guest today I believe you find to be a real treat.

               May I introduce Management Coach (MC). We met recently at a conference, and I was immediately intrigued. He has some fresh and, I think, exciting insights that will help us.

               MC, please tell us a bit about yourself.

MC         Thank you, PM.

               I am a professional engineer who has worked most of my adult life for a multinational Fortune 500 company.

               However, my passion is leadership development. I personally like mind maps as a way to illustrate ideas. So, I have built one huge, and a few smaller mind maps with every concept I thought valuable for leadership.

WSP Development Triangles

PM         I persuaded MC to join us today to introduce one small part of his work, what he calls his Development Triangles.

MC         I am familiar with a number of models related to employee and team development. I find all of them helpful, but there is always room for one more.

               A few years ago, I became friends with a corporate leader who used a series of triangles. His name is Wayne S. Pon and he calls his model the WSP Development Triangles. As I said, I am a visual thinker, these Triangles immediately caught my attention.

HR         Has Wayne Pon ever published any of this?

MC         Not yet. Wayne’s goal was to help people be better through sharing his knowledge and experiences.  However, we have agreed to collaborate and he has graciously allowed me to begin promoting his triangles with a view toward a series of lessons or an ebook in the near future

PM         But you are allowed to show us the triangles today, right.

Triangle # 1

MC         Yes, of course.

               Let’s start with a normal equilateral triangle sitting on its base as shown here. The base of the triangle represents the development level of this person compared to everyone higher in the organization.

               Think of this as a highly developed person.

HR         Please explain to us what you mean, “highly developed.”

MC         To me development is the ability to apply a high degree of knowledge and understanding to the job.

               Think of your most valued members. They have a great deal of knowledge about their job and the organization. They have a good understanding of how things work among company activities, and, finally, they are able to apply that knowledge and understanding to benefit the company.

               These people are sometimes called SME (Subject Matter Experts), or SMA (Subject Matter Advisors).

LT           I’m sorry, but you lost me. I am in the knowledge transfer business. Am I missing something.

What is Knowledge?

MC         Someone define knowledge for me.

TC          To me that is what you can look up online, information.

OPS       That sounds kind of like a set of encyclopedias.

MC         So, what is the value of knowledge or information by itself? We call someone who has memorized a lot of information “smart.” Is that true?

OPS       Like I said – a set of encyclopedias, interesting but mostly useless by themselves.

MC         Good. Now what has to happen next?

PM         Someone has to analyze the information. I read a lot of history. Great historians are the ones who boil down all of the information about a period of history and explain it in ways that make it understandable. 

HR         I think I am beginning to get this. Even at that point, analyzed and understandable knowledge is still kind of useless for practical purposes. It has to be made useful somehow.

Application of Knowledge

MC         That is the key. The application of knowledge and information is what we need.

               Now back to our triangle. The person shown here has developed the ability to apply the knowledge and understanding for the good of the organization. In this illustration, they are the best at their job. They are highly developed.

TC          But what does training have to do with all this. You are talking to a bunch of trainers here.

HG         Training is vital to the process. Effective training events accelerate taking on knowledge, gaining understanding, and focusing on areas for application.

               However, training is usually just a beginning. There needs to be sufficient follow through for training to become development.

MC         That’s right. We will get more into the follow through effort in a few minutes.

               For now, do you all understand what this first triangle illustrates?  Do you notice, it is so versatile, it applies directly to training as well?

               These triangles can be used to illustrate lots of different work concepts. Today is just the beginning.

HR         I think I’ve got it. This person is better at doing their job than anyone else above them in the organization. Through training and development efforts they have come to be very proficient, can be counted to perform consistently at a high level.

MC         Yes. There is a saying I got from an old friend, “As good as the best and better than the rest.”

               Now, does that all mean that they can just float along and rest on their laurels?

OPS       Of course not. Personal and professional development is a lifelong pursuit.

Triangle #4

MC         All right. Now let’s turn the triangle on its nose like this.

               First, notice that the triangle does not come to a point. This illustrates a simple fact. Everyone brings something to the job or they wouldn’t get hired.

               However, every person in a new position, whether new hire, promotion, or transfer  starts out in this condition.

PM         Are you sure about that? We sometimes hire people for fairly senior positions who come in fully qualified for the job.

LT           I think I understand. There is always a learning and development curve. For a known professional it may be fairly short, different for recent graduates who need a lot more time and attention.

               Part of my job is to identify the gaps and assist new hires to progress rapidly.

TC          This also looks kind of like a funnel. This person has a lot to absorb.

PM         OK. Unfortunately we are out of time for today, but MC has agreed to meet with us again as we study these triangles.

               MC, can you give us a preview of coming attractions?

MC         Sure. There are two illustrations for the intermediate stages between these triangles. We also have a shape that shows a very disruptive situation we call, “I have a secret.”

PM         OK. Lots to think about until next week. We will see you all then.


Please register with us and add your comments here on the blog site.

If you have personal comments or questions for us, you may email us at

We also invite you to join our conversations related to these blogs, our facebook group, and our Linkedin group shown below.

Thank you.

Wayne S. Pon is an influential leader who believes an organization’s strength comes from its people.  Understands that investing in building relationships and creating environments where stakeholders feel respected, appreciated and valued delivers sustained results.  Known for applying globally developed skills, a key differentiator, in organizational transformational change.  

Inspires and motivates by using a collaborative approach through clarifying, simplifying and focusing on the critical few.  Helping to “connect the dots” by being open to learning and questioning to gain broad stakeholder alignment.  Driven and committed to “win” the “infinite game.”

Practical versatility gained from broad international oil, gas, mining production, development, research (patents), joint ventures, business, government and military experiences in targeted roles of increasing responsibilities and broadening assignments.  Servant leadership, active listening, clear decisiveness and technical depth with the ability to integrate stakeholder needs into executable strategic and tactical plans.  These have been key personal attributes grown over time and enhanced through formal “executive coaching.”  This has helped to ensure successes in guiding diverse/multi-cultural teams that safely achieve tangible results and create real value in the areas of organizational effectiveness, operations management and technical engineering.  

Fred Parker is the Director of Course Design and Development at Fred has half a century as a Performance Management Consultant designing, developing, and delivering performance-based training including all manner of technical training, individual development soft skills, and basic leadership. Clients include all sizes from a local sandwich shop to the military to fortune 500 multinationals. Now Fred is converting previous ILT courses to remote delivery courses available on our web site.

Choose your Reaction!
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.