Conceptual thinking

Management behavioural competency (PDF, 86 KB)

Definition: Applies or creates new constructs, models, theories, or frameworks that explain and gives meaning to business, commercial, scientific problems, events or situations. It involves identifying patterns or connections between situations that are not obviously related, and identifying key or underlying issues and trends in complex situations.  It includes using inductive reasoning that allows one to form ideas about groups of events or situations.

Scale progression: The scale progresses from applying guidelines to pattern recognition to theory or model building.

Level 1

Applies established rules

  • Applies simple rules, common sense and past experiences to identify business issues.
  • Recognizes when a current situation is exactly the same as a past situation.
  • Applies preset decision trees to problems or opportunities.
  • Uses established rules in predefined way.

Level 2

Sees patterns between data and information based on experience

  • Notices when a current situation is similar or dissimilar to a past situation, and identifies the similarities and/or differences.
  • When looking at information, sees patterns, trends or missing pieces.
  • Seeks a precedent when faced with new situations to inform response.
  • Identifies the links between the information and the context.
  • Identifies discrepancies, trends, and inter-relationships in the information.
  • Identifies pertinent information, and notices trends, patterns or missing pieces.

Level 3

Applies complex models and concepts

  • Uses knowledge of theories or frameworks to look at current situations.
  • Applies and modifies complex learned concepts, theories or methods appropriately.
  • Applies advanced models to identify the intricacies of a situation and how they may impact the outcome.
  • Formulates a clear explanation for complex business problems, situations or opportunities based on existing theories or frameworks.

Level 4

Clarifies complex data or situations

  • Makes complex or abstract ideas or situations clear, simple, and/or understandable.
  • Assembles ideas, issues, and observations into a clear, useful and complete explanation.
  • Restates existing observations or knowledge in a simpler fashion.
  • Synthesizes complex ideas, issues and observations into a clear understanding; takes intricate data and puts it into lay terms; "boils down" information.
  • Conducts strategic analysis of trends to identify patterns or missing pieces.
  • Selectively absorbs a large amount of diverse or complex information to identify central and underlying issues of a situation.
  • Sees multiple relationships and missing factors/gaps in systems or processes, and takes corrective action as necessary.

Level 5

Creates new concepts, theories, models and frameworks

  • Creates new concepts that are not obvious to others and not learned from previous education or experience to explain situations or resolve problems.
  • Looks at things in a novel way (i.e., breakthrough thinking).
  • Shifts the paradigm; starts a new line of thought.
  • Thinks beyond the issues and balances multiple perspectives when setting direction or reaching conclusions.
  • Thinks beyond the organization and balances multiple perspectives when setting direction or reaching conclusions.