Back to resources

Apply The Four Stages of Learning To Your Strategic Management Process

By Shannon Sage

Apply The Four Stages of Learning To Your Strategic Management Process

To be a strategic company, developing a foundation of learning and growth is one of the critical components for maintaining a skilled, relevant workforce. Understanding the areas of knowledge development necessary for your company is only part of the equation. Knowledge flows are tricky currents. New knowledge must be applied in an efficient way to be useful.

In David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” productivity approach, he proposes that new skills develop through a series of stages. When providing the workforce opportunities to learn, understanding what it will take to integrate new knowledge into work routines requires time and process development.Allen lists four stages on his blog to approach knowledge integration from an individual’s perspective.

Four Stages of Knowledge Integration:

  1. Unconscious incompetence. I don’t know what I don’t know about what I could know. Or, I know something is wrong, but I’m not sure what it is, and what’s causing it. Allen said 98 percent of people feel somewhat embarrassed about their “productivity” skills and systems, but they don’t know what exactly to change or how to change it.
  2. Conscious incompetence. I know exactly what I should be doing, but I’m not doing it. I know that I need to externalize, capture, clarify and review my commitments. However, I haven’t changed my habits of keeping these commitments in the forefront of my mind and I continually avoid next step decisions.
  3. Conscious competence. I know what to do and I’m doing it, but I really need to stay focused and “get” myself to do it regularly. I am keeping the process in mind so that I am able to follow it.
  4. Unconscious competence. I’m using the process to focus but no longer need to think about it step-by-step to accomplish the task. I’m free to move onto bigger things.

It’s a muscle memory approach to work efficiency, and anyone who has tried to incorporate a new golf swing or even run with a better stride knows that our habits take repetition before the new motion becomes foundational to performance. Management leaders can further the development of the learning curve with processes that identify where, when and how new knowledge can be applied into daily routines. Make the unfamiliar familiar and you might find more efficient assimilation and adaptation of skills in your workforce.


How does your process foster new skill development?

Shannon Sage

Shannon is a Client Engagement Manager at OnStrategy with experience in marketing, social media and strategic planning. She manages the survey database, supports the integration of survey results and analysis, and she answers client’s questions and concerns.




What is 5 + 5 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
All fields are required.

Success isn’t a list of flashy logos. It’s about helping anyone who wants to lead a great organization. If that’s you, join our list of clients – you’re in good company:

A Dose of Strategy.

Actionable tips, case studies, best practices in your inbox every other week.