Behavioral MetaDYNAMICS – Languaging

Behavioral MetaDYNAMICS Languaging @F-L-O-W

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Capability @F-L-O-W


BmD: Capability: Part 6 –


  • Declarative

  • Cumulative

  • Serial

  • Parallel

  • Third Order

  • Fourth Order

  • Fifth Order

This system comes directly from the work and research of
Elliott Jaques, HUMAN CAPABILITY, 1994

Over time, it has been called many things, but my
preference for identifying the ideas have to do with how
people language their being, doing, having, becoming and
contribution, and for that reason, I chose languaging to
identify this particular model.

From Gower Publishing:

A major breakthrough in understanding human capability,
intelligence, and development theory is reported with the
results of Cason/Jaques’ conclusive 3-year study. Their
field work demonstrates with high reliability and validity
that when heavily engrossed in work, individuals process
information in four and only four ways which recur in a
series of higher orders of information complexity.
Further, this hierarchy of mental processing methods
corresponds with levels of individual capability and is
congruent with levels of work complexity, explaining, at
last, the very nature of managerial systems.

This book also presents support for the concurrent theory,
first formulated by Dr. Jaques in 1956, that individuals
mature in capability within predictable patterns, a
maturation process that continues throughout life. The
authors demonstrate the nature of this maturation beyond
adolescence and into old age, and discuss how this view
compares with that of Piaget and of IQ studies which posit
that capability and intelligence are fully mature by late
adolescence. The ability to plot and predict the growth of
human potential capability throughout life will alter
dramatically our present conceptions in developmental
psychology. The social consequences of this work are
likely to be substantial and extensive and are
addressed by the authors.

An important outcome of this study is the further
development of managerial procedures that enable companies
to match people with roles, and to develop programs that
effectively meet the organization’s future human resource

The importance of languaging?

How we language our being, doing, having, becoming and
contributing can actually be assessed using Jaques model
of information processing. Jaques named his process
Complexity of Mental Processing which later evolved to
"Complexity of Information Processing" or CIP.

CIP has two parts, "Orders of Information
Complexity" and "Mental Processes." The former
measures the level of abstract thinking of which a
person is capable on a scale ranging from First Order
(an inability to think beyond the realm of concrete
entities) to Sixth Order (an ability to think in
"universals"). The second variable, "Mental
Processes," describes the complexity of the arguments
a person can master. – Debatable outcomes, By Drake

Excerpted from:

Potential Capability And Organizational Transition:
An Application Of Elliott Jaques’ Stratified Systems
Theory In A Family-Owned Business, Sandra King, PhD

Mental Processing

Jaques states that mental processing is the individual’s
"mental working processes by which you [an individual]
take information, pick it over, play with it, analyze it,
put it together, reorganize it, judge and reason it, make
conclusions, plans and decisions, and take action" (Jaques
1996: 18)

According to a study conducted by Jaques and Cason, an
individual will use one of four types of mental
processing, each of which has distinctive phrases or
processes, when solving problems (1994). The four
processes are declarative, cumulative, serial, and
parallel (1994). In addition, they found the "four methods
of mental processing can be observed in each of two
different orders of information, symbolic and abstract,
used by adult subjects; they are recursive and maintain
their hierarchy of complexity" (Jaques and Cason 1994:

Complexity of Mental Processing

Jaques points out that an individual’s PC [Potential
Capability] to perform work is determined by his or her
level of complexity of mental processing (1996). He
defines complexity of mental processing as the type of
mental process together with the level of information
complexity that an individual uses when solving problems.

Therefore, the process of identifying an individual’s
complexity of mental process is a two-part procedure.
First, the researcher observes the type of mental process
used and second, the order of information complexity.

According to Jaques and Cason, the range for most adults
is from declarative/symbolic, level 1 to parallel/abstract
conceptual, level 8 (1994). They suggest "there is one
category [of complexity] of mental processing that matches
the span of level of work for each specific organizational
stratum in the
managerial hierarchy" (1994: 61). Table 1 provides a
summary of the complexity of mental processing associated
with each managerial role. The table includes the logic
used, pattern of mental process, order of information, and
the managerial level associated with each organizational
role in Jaques’ MAH.

Table 1: Level of Managerial Role Associated with
Complexity of Mental Processing in Jaques’ Managerial
Accountability Hierarchy

Pattern of Mental Process:        

What you need to know?

How we language our: "mental working processes by
which you [an individual] take information, pick it over,
play with it, analyze it, put it together, reorganize it,
judge and reason it, make conclusions, plans and
decisions, and take action"
–> is important to
understanding our potential capability, but also where our
capability can be scaffolded now, near and far.

Jaques understood that how people make use of their
mental processes could be codified and studied, matched
with roles and complexity to work in a collaborative way
to get work done.

While NO THEORY or practice is the final answer, using
the idea that how we lauguage these mental processes is
critical to "self-knowledge>>self-awareness" transitions
through discreet levels of CAPABILITY is a great tool for
postmodern leadership.

While now half way through our discussion of CAPABILITY
DYNAMICS, the downside is really the upside as we begin to
assemble the remaining group of elements.

I hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas and tools during
this process, which you can use for your own

development as well as your work and leadership with others.

If you have comments, please feel free to leave them here on the blog.

You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting,
coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer
developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are
interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and
contributing… to helping people have lives.

PS: To learn more about our 2015 Program,
Behavioral MetaDYNAMICS and to enroll in the experience,


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