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Is there a parallel between triathlon and personal development? In my opinion yes. As a change consultant and a sportsman – who is currently preparing himself for the 70.3 Ironman this year in Mallorca – I am fascinated by personal development. Triathlon is a multi-sport, which means you have to master different sports, and triathlon is a data-driven sport. Like triathlon, personal development is a kind of multi-sport. You have to master multiple soft skills at the same time. However, personal development needs to be more data-driven.



Why would we want to measure personal development?

Your personal development – in my view – is easily measurable. But first, let me answer the question: “Why would we want to measure someone’s personal development?” In our society, we are more likely to invest time and money in matters for which we can determine the objective Return On Investment (ROI) than in matters that have a subjective ROI. I believe that as a society (schools, universities, and business) we must invest more in the personal development of people.


Due to topics such as robotization, a growing number of people with burnout or bore-out, rapid changes, aging of society, migration, more clashes of cultures and religions and climate change, more investments in personal development is needed.
These problems cannot be solved with technological innovations only. The way we look at these problems is part of the problem and therefore also part of the solution.

Personal development is the foundation for a new, more future-proof mindset with which we can develop sustainable solutions for all kinds of problems. And when our environment is restless, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-acceptance are the sources of inner peace.

What is personal development?

Before I explain how we can measure personal development, I will explain what personal development means to me. We are social and creative creatures. We have the tendency to experience a higher form of happiness when we are “meaningful” to others. So when we are experienced as being valuable by other people.

My definition of personal development is a social cyclical process in which a person continuously rediscovers who he/she is and how he/she can bring value to others in a way that affects, inspires and energizes all stakeholders.
This social cyclical process consists of four steps:

  • Collective Intuition: the unspoken sentiment within a team and/or organization. This determines people’s trust and freedom of movement.
  • Personal ambition: the extent to which people are aware of their personal ambition and that they can and want to share it.
  • Collective mission: your personal ambitions X my personal ambition X social challenge we want to contribute to = Collectief mission
  • Personal challenge: the match between personal development needs and the improvement initiatives of the collective.

In the context of this blog, I am not going into detail about how this process works but I will give some examples of KPIs we can define per step so that we can measure the personal growth of the participants. If you want more insight on how this process works read my blog (in Dutch).

How can we measure our personal development?

Let’s approach my statement, ‘we can measure personal development in a business case with a ROI’, from a fictional business case, the implementation of new software within an IT team of 25 employees. What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can we define per phase?

How can we measure the status of the ‘Collective Intuition’:
(How safe is my team and what is the willingness of the team to engage on a new innovation?)

  • What is the ratio between successful and unsuccessful projects
  • Is the team profitable?
  • Are people making jokes?
  • Do you experience resistance or enthusiasm when planning the project kick-off?

Personal ambition: what is the degree of self-management of my individual team members

  • The request for feedback, is it growing or declining?
  • How many teams members have a personal ambition that is specific, achievable and inspiring?
  • How many team members are aware of their soft skills development needs?
  • How many team members define what skills they want to develop on the specific project?

Collective mission: How inspired, empathetic and engaged are we?

  • How many improvement initiatives does your team define?
  • How often can team-members make a match between their ambition and an improvement initiatives
  • How often do people pick up new projects/initiatives?

Personal challenge:

  • How many team members are committed to an improvement initiative?
  • How many teams members are successful?
  • How many team members don’t execute on their improvement initiative?

My conclusion:

A few KPIs have been defined above but starting up the social cyclical process of personal development is more complex than defining a number of KPIs of course. With this blog, I want to inspire you to look differently at the development of soft skills. With the right indicators and metadata, we can monitor and predict the personal development of people.

Organizations need to start investing in the personal development of their employees based on a business case. With this, I expect that personal development will increasingly become a must-have activity instead of nice-to-have. Based on my experience I dare to state that a productivity increase of 10% is achievable.

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Steven de Lira

Founder and teamcoach at FutureFit Platform

Steven de Lira (Curaçao, 1973) engineer, tech entrepreneur and specialist in engagement management. Steven can build bridges like no other between different worlds where others see challenges or impossibilities. With his method, he is now building a bridge between what he sees as the non-concrete world of personal development and data-driven decision-making.

M. +31 6 41 25 47 50
E. steven@silkbricks.com

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