The Competence Lemon

The Competence Lemon is HEP's Foundation

The Competence Lemon is our evidenced-based competence framework that HEP is based on. It was created based on research within the field of competence, learning, motivation, organizing, and more. Consisting of six dimensions, the competence lemon considers the impact of context, culture and identity. Competence can evolve and diversify depending on these factors.

Knowledge and Experience

  • Knowledge within a subject matter
  • Experience in a similar area
  • Knowledge needed to solve problems
  • Subject matters can include: technical knowledge, business knowledge,negotiation, process development, etc.

Social Capability

  • The ability to share knowledge and communicate with others
  • The ability to listen, be open to other opinions, cooperate with others, respond to questions, and explain

Ability to Manage Complexity

  • The capability to manage complex and constantly changing situations
  • Being able to take in information and link different domains to a conclusion
  • Have a holistic view and see things from a different perspective
  • Being capable of thinking several steps ahead and anticipate consequences
  • Being able to make decisions based on fact: balancing advantages and disadvantages

Ability to Learn

  • Being fast to learn new things
  • Knowing how to get information
  • Ability to take in and interpret new knowledge
  • Being updated with the latest knowledge

Leadership Qualities

  • People management skills
  • Capable of leading a team in the right direction
  • Being able to lift and support others
  • Providing information for others to solve a problem
  • For a project manager: being able to manage different kinds of projects
  • Being able to manage suppliers

Personal Capability

  • Personal characteristics, interest in, and attitude toward work
  • The ability to use knowledge and experience in current work
  • Being responsible and safe while doing what is expected
  • The ability to understand and solve a problem

Organization Culture and Identity

  • Share values, beliefs, goals, and expectations
  • Influence how people in an organization behave
  • Identity in a group


  • Situations related to industry, size of organisation, globality, market maturity, and similar parameters
  • nature of a task. (sales, administration, software development, etc.)
  • Impacts on how a person can use his or her competence

Origin of the Framework

The Framework stems from systematic research on competence, learning, motivation, organizing and leadership. It brings prior research forward, by forcing it to look at competence as something dynamic; especially in our current knowledge- intense world. Furthermore, it highlights two previously unknown dimensions of competence: the ability to learn and the ability to manage complexity. Both of these new dimensions are directly related to the knowledge-intensive area.
The Competence Lemon even covers how competence can be impacted by organizational culture, and how it should be applied depending on the context.
More about the Competence Lemon can be found in the book: “Managing Project Competence: the Lemon and the Loop”, by Rolf Medina.

New Way of Assessing Competence

The broader way of looking at competence, where knowledge and skill are looked at separately: first considering a task, and then seeing which context it should be performed in. This forms a holistic view of competence.

Finding Hidden Talent and Competence

Making competence transparent, and including knowledge currently not used.

Keeping Track of Current Competence

Aggregated view of an organisation’s competence, and the ability to keep track of peoples’ competence journeys.

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