Multifaceted Capability @F-L-O-W

Capability @F-L-O-W

Multifaceted Capability (MFC) and WHY Its Important
During my Year-Long Guidance Program in 2013, my first topic and discovery session is going to be Multifaceted Capability.  Each of these topics will have a free introductory session, as well as 4 discovery sessions, approximately 40 minutes in length.  To learn more and to register for the Year-Long Program and get all the discovery sessions at a discounted fee, click here.
For years, perhaps decades, or even centuries, we have been occupied with trying to understand "capability" and it’s many forms.

There are two essential questions I will address:
What is capability?
And more so, WHY is it important?
Capability In the wiki:
 is the ability to perform actions.  As it applies to human capital, capability is the sum of capacity and ability.
In the dictionary:
1. The quality of being capable; ability.
2. A talent or ability that has potential for development or use.  Often used in the plural: a student of great capabilities.
3. The capacity to be used, treated, or developed for a specific purpose: nuclear capability.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The capability approach is a theoretical framework that entails two core normative claims: first, the claim that the freedom to achieve well-being is of primary moral importance, and second, that freedom to achieve well-being is to be understood in terms of people’s capabilities.  That is, their real opportunities to do and be what they have reason to value. 

The approach has been developed in a variety of more specific normative theories, such as (partial) theories of social justice or accounts of development ethics.  It has also led to a new and highly interdisciplinary literature in the social sciences resulting in new statistics and social indicators, and to a new policy paradigm which is mainly used in development studies, the so-called ‘human development approach’.

Despite some philosophical disagreements about the best description of the capability approach, it is generally understood as a conceptual framework for a range of normative exercises, including most prominently the following:
     (1) the assessment of individual well-being;
     (2) the evaluation and assessment of social arrangements; and
     (3) the design of policies and proposals about social change in society.

In all these normative exercises, the capability approach prioritizes certain of peoples’ beings and doings and their opportunities to realize those beings and doings (such as their genuine opportunities to be educated, their ability to move around or to enjoy supportive social relationships).  This stands in contrast to other accounts of well-being, which focus exclusively on subjective categories (such as happiness) or on the material means to well-being (such as resources like income or wealth).

You can see, that while we have a base of information about capability, and a philosophical foundation of why it may be important, we know nothing really about capability from these definitions we didn’t already assume before.

If we view capability from a ValuDYNAMIC, we might see it related as follows:

From a power system:

Capability is used to identify people as tools to accomplish things, so the emphasis is on "what can someone do and what does it cost for them to do it".

From an avoidant system:

Capability may be defined as the limits to someone’s ability, how to categorize them into particular levels of capability in order to give "each to his own."  Attempts would be made to avoid limiting people, and to suggest that people are governed by their limits.

From an achievement system:

Capability might be deployed as work across a system to provide win-win opportunities for the use of capability and what the capability can produce given particular resources.

From an affiliate system:

Capability might be noted in relationship to individual and collective development and the human aspects of capability would be reinforced to provide dignity to people who might be less capable, and fairness in a system with equal justice.

From a differentiated system:

Capability may be defined as multifaceted, and work, or an organization may be designed to promote levels of fitness, which when used together might provide all of which we have discussed in other systems, but look at the individual and collective "contribution" by the system and the resources in it to judge overall capability.

While it’s important to take into consideration all the various ideas about capability previously noted, the focus on capability, and more so, multifaceted capability may be critical when we look at social systems in which people live, work, and relate.

Regardless of how we view capability, at some level and perhaps more levels, we need to begin to consider how to provide ways, or designs that are able to understand capability across a broad spectrum of capability; more so now that we have interconnected so many resources and consequences.

In retreating somewhat from the larger picture, which is basically too complex to conceptualize at its scale–which is accelerating–we look for those attributes which are not random, but perhaps scale-free (network effects) that can allow us Pareto distribution where getting a few key attributes provides us with large amounts of affect, and effect.

The model is based on the idea of fitness, an inherent competitive factor that nodes may have, capable of affecting the network’s evolution.  According to this idea, the nodes’ intrinsic ability to attract links in the network varies from node to node, the most efficient (or "fit") being able to gather more edges in the expense of others.  In that sense, not all nodes are identical to each other, and they claim their degree increase according to the fitness they possess every time.  The fitness factors of all the nodes composing the network may form a distribution ρ(η) characteristic of the system been studied.

Bianconi and Barabasi proposed a new model called Bianconi-Barabasi model, a variant to the Barabasi-Albert model (BA model), where the probability for a node to connect to another one is supplied with a term expressing the fitness of the node involved.  The fitness parameter is time independent and is multiplicative to the probability. 

Enter Multifaceted Capability (MFC), as a hypothesis

Let’s look at criteria for why MFC is important:

  • Scalable, as a power law
  • Increasing levels of fitness
  • Identifies the likelihood of resources available and resources needed
  • Applicable across domains
  • Promotes well-being, social function, happiness, and success
  • Leads to resilient social policy

The question that I have been asking myself in my work:

"Are we capable enough to find ways in which to develop very simple notions about life, work, and relationships, which explain large numbers of effects?"

Learning is slow and variable

Developmental webSkSkills are constructed over time, and as Dr. Fischer’s research has shown, variability in skill performance is normal. Development is not like climbing a ladder, where each step up equates to the perfect achievement of a new set of skills.

 Instead, development is like a spider’s web, with growth in change through many pathways at once.  Different skills can be at different levels of complexity at the same time.  There can be differences across domains, where (for example) math skills might run ahead of social studies skills.  Or there can be differences within domains, where multiplication skills might run ahead of division skills. 

There is also variability within a single skill.  Students may demonstrate a skill in one context, and fail to do so in another.  A period of building skill followed by regression is also normal.  When students are building a new skill or concept, they are likely to "forget" what they’ve learned a few times before the new skill can be taken for granted. –

In the past, and in my search for "Occam’s razor" in development, we have had MANY competitors for this simple Pareto affect: Intelligence, "g", genetics, memetics, and all those theories intertwined, such as education, social economic status, and even income, wealth, and happiness.

Certainly the MFC Hypothesis is yet another one of those competitors, and while it’s relatively new in terms of its use, it’s broadly applicable to live, work, and relationships, with practice.

What is an added benefit to this particular notion of "performance and development" is that in the practice of the work, the practice is valuable.  There is a term for that which escapes me at this moment, but perhaps someone reading this piece can help me with this "utility", which is described in the pursuit of something that actually provides benefits in addition to possible gains that arise from the results of the pursuit itself.

Thus far, the MFC hypothesis contains the following elements:

  • Perspective
  • Subjectivity
  • Ego Position
  • Languaging
  • Task Performance
  • Strengths
  • Sense-Making
  • Sentiment Analysis

This is a long list for sure.

However, judging capability is a key factor in almost every decision we make each day; and in MFC, the outcome we want is to be able to design living, work, and relationships in ways that provide the returns to investment that are critical for people to willingly provide resources to do so.

What is key behind each of the systems in MFC is that we are able to correlate our "judgment" to larger, more in-depth systems of analysis which can provide for more profound information about MFC, so we are not just making snap judgments without a deep underlying foundation of research and development.

As noted before, the mere introduction of these elements into the search space creates a complimentary benefit to us, as well as to the assessment process.  Just getting information on these elements begins to create the necessary tension for maturation to be catalyzed in cases where it can be.

 Fischer’s Dynamic Skill Theory (Fischer, 1980; Fischer & Bidell, 2006) has added a generative set of methods and concepts useful for researching and modeling learning sequences.  First outlined in the 1980s, the General Skill Scale (Figure 2) is the backbone of the general approach.

The Skill Scale is a model of the basic structural
transformations characteristic of skill development and has been empirically refined in light of decades of research.  Importantly, in this context the term skill should be taken in a very general sense, as the basic or generic unit of psychological process.

All skills are richly multidimensional, intrinsically involving emotion, cognition, context, and social support.  Skills are built actively and dynamically by individuals in specific contexts and they are built hierarchically, with more complex ones transcending but including less complex ones.

As individuals build unique skills in different domains, learning sequences unfold across the different tiers and levels: actions lay the groundwork for concrete representations, which serve eventually as the basis for the construction of abstractions.  Within each tier, there is a series of levels, as the basic skill-type (action, representation, or abstraction) is coordinated into increasingly complex forms of organized behavior.  – Redesigning Testing: Stein, Dawson, Fischer, Unpublished

Brief History:

What led me to this journey myself in the 90s was an experience depicted by this chart below:

You see, if all capability was correlated, we would not see the range of hierarchical task capability in a variety of ego levels as depicted.  This is the underlying reason why scaffolding must be multifaceted as well as multidimensional.

In the end, MFC must create increased levels of awareness, purpose, competence, well-being, and results, in whatever form to be utilized by individuals and the collective to promote freedom for people to be who they are, and in doing so, a greater good.

This perspective of the greater good actually emerges from the wellth and scaffolding of the individual good.  So an equilibriation is clearly necessary in identifying how society maintains each level in a scaffolded network of effects, and why "inevitable changes" are of the deconstruction and construction of this individual and collective good.  Mike addresses how to find your authentic MFC in view of collective scaffolding.

If you would like to know more about MFC, it’s application and the elements listed in the model, I have a discovery session planned for four weeks starting on Feb 6, through 27, 2013 at 5 pm est. Just click here to register before Feb 6, 2013. Early Bird registration is $197 and is good until February 5th at which time it goes to $297.

To take advantage of all our programs for 2013 visit

More Info @F-L-O-W

Disclaimer  |  Terms of Service  |  Earnings Disclaimer  |  Privacy Notice  |  Contact Support Buy the Book