PM Chronicles #13: Development Triangles #4, by Wayne 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         Wow. Time goes by. This is our fourth week studying the WSP Development Triangles.

               We are pretty familiar with first four triangles. So, MC, tell us what we are going to discuss today.

MC         Thank you, PM.

               I had expected to get to the fifth Triangle last week, but we had such a good discussion that we ran out of time. However, all good things come with time.

Triangle #5

               To avoid that situation this time, let’s introduce Triangle #5.

               Who can tell us what is going on here?

LT           Interesting. It looks kind of like an hourglass, only the top is wider than the base.

MC         What does an hourglass do?

TC          An hourglass restricts and controls the flow from top to bottom.

MC         Good. So, what might that mean in terms of the Development Triangles.

PM         Well, our performer has progressed toward Level #2, but some seniors seem to be impeding that development.

Training and Mentoring

OPS       Wait a minute! What if whoever is controlling the flow is a mentor who is being careful to move along in a measured manner, as in the hourglass analogy?

TC          Oh, that’s good. Isn’t that what we do in the training process? Don’t we deliberately measure out learning in stages that assist the learner, rather than overload them, avoiding the “firehose” effect?

MC         So this shows a positive situation?

LT           I think so. Mentoring can be a very powerful way to help the performer develop.

MC         So this is a good deal for everyone involved?

HR         I think you might be baiting us a little bit. You said earlier that Triangle #5 is a situation that can be dangerous or destructive. What did you mean by that?

PM         Something TC just said triggered a thought. TC said, “deliberately.” What if someone is deliberately withholding information?

I’ve Got a Secret

OPS       Oh yeah! I remember from my supervisor days when one of my senior team members would say, “They are playing, “I’ve got a secret!” the worst game of all.”

               What if that is what is going on here?

MC         Ok, why would someone want to play, “I’ve got a secret?”

OPS       Well, I can think of several reasons. Perhaps they are jealous of what they know. Perhaps they are afraid to share because it will weaken their position. Perhaps they think that withholding gives them job security. Perhaps they just don’t trust anyone else.

PM         That seems really childish. “I know something you don’t know, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

HG         It IS childish! Number one on my very short list of leadership characteristics is, Grow up! Be the adult!

               Unfortunately, it can be hard to find adults sometimes.

MC         So, if we think that is what is happening, what can we do about it? For instance, what can our performer do if they think they are being left out?

LT           I think I would go to my supervisor and ask something like, “I think I am missing something here. I think there may be more that I need to know.”

               Perhaps the supervisor can resolve this.

HR         That’s good. A lot of times your supervisor may already know of others who tend to keep secrets. The supervisor may be able to get what is required another way.

TC          But what if is your supervisor doing the withholding?

HR         That is a tough situation. For me, as a seasoned professional, I can usually find other ways to get what I need.

               However, for a new or young performer, they may be stuck for a while until they learn more about the organization, or they do the best they can while looking for a new job.

PM         Do you think this is a very big problem, generally?

HR         Yes, I do. The overwhelming reason people switch companies is because of their supervisor treating them poorly. “I’ve got a secret,” is fairly common, and it always causes trouble.

MC         OK, good discussion, but let’s change topics for a few minutes. We have all five of the Triangles as shown here.

Why the Development Triangles?

               The next question is, “So what?” Are these Triangles valuable for us and, if so, Why?

PM         I can see that these Triangles provide a whole spectrum of possibilities!

               We don’t have a lot of time left for today. Why don’t we list areas where we think the Triangles may be helpful.

TC          Let’s start with the individual performer. They can assess their own development.

LT           I agree, but I can also see how each person can assess different areas of their performance.

               That may help us avoid both the “halo effect,” and the “Peter Principle.”

OPS       Yeah. Separate areas me are operations and maintenance. They probably require different assessments, but I can see that the Triangles unify the process. I need to give that some more thought.

HR         So based on what OPS just said, these also apply to every performer, not just new or inexperienced people.

PM         What about supervisors? I think these Triangles can help supervisors coach and guide their team members. I begin to imagine the broad scope of the Triangles.

MC         Good! Anything else?

TC          We have a bunch of trainers in here. I think the Triangles can help us assess different jobs and skill levels to identify training gaps.

LT           Even better! We can use the Triangles to follow through after the training. That is something we often don’t do very well.

MC         So I guess the Development Triangles can resolve all your problems in training, learning, talent, development, all those areas.

LT           Well, maybe not all, but they will certainly be a valuable tool in our kit.

PM         Too bad we are out of time for today, but we will get more into each of these areas as we go forward.

MC         As an easy takeaway, look for ways to apply these triangles in your everyday interactions.

               Discussion next week will be around the question of versatility. Do the Triangles provide on-the-spot situation awareness?

PM         Thank you all. See you next week.


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 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.