0 – 5

Everyone uses rating scales, with our first introduction in elementary school. Most schools use 0 – 100 or A – F, then in college it becomes GPA of 0.0 (Mr. Blutarsky!!) to 4.0. In many areas of business, a different scale is often used: 1 – 5. The first instance I can trace is Phil Crosby’s Quality Management Maturity Grid. Lots of customer satisfaction models use a 1 – 5 score, as does the Capability Maturity Model for software engineering. A rating of 1 is out of kindness and may mask the reality that you’re nowhere. I prefer to call a 0 a zero and acknowledge people and organization’s that have at least made a start of it by giving them a 1. I use a similar scale when calibrating the level of expertise a person has in any field. It helps to making sure you have the right person for the job.

Level Descriptor Characteristics
    0     Ignorant Never heard of it
    1     Aware Minimal awareness (heard of it), but little understanding
    2     Novice Beginner’s understanding, can listen to a conversation and understand most concepts, with only limited contribution
    3     Literate Understand most everything that is said, can contribute to the conversation in ways valued by the group
    4     Fluent Know the domain in-depth, an important contributor in sorting out issues
    5     Expert Practitioner with authoritative knowledge and contributor to body of knowledge whom people seek out on key issues

The word Literate is in bold because I believe that every participant should be a 3 or better, with some 2s in the mix so they can deepen their expertise with the support of those ahead of them. So much of what we do at work uses acquired knowledge, not innate. A friend cautioned a young colleague with a stereotypical youthful hubris to study for a licensing exam because ‘nobody is born with this knowledge’. Every Expert at Level 5 started out at 0. It’s OK to be  below 3; it’s not OK to stay there. The scale is not linear; it may not be precise, but it’s probably more of a log scale. Going from 0 to 1 is so easy — just use  Wikipedia. Most professors reject citations from Wiki as not being from a scholarly work, but it can start an inquiry and lead you to deeper understanding. Knowing something about a subject enables you to know more. Knowledge has become a commodity… applying it is the value-added. But you can’t apply it if you don’t have it. So… getting from 0 to 1 is easy. How do you climb? More to follow. Stay curious.


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