Main assessment methodologies: Korn Ferry, CCL, Talent-X7

Learning agility and performance - how they are connected?

In 2002 Lominger, the company later renamed Korn Ferry coined the following definition of potential: "Potential refers to learning new skills or developing existing skills to prepare to work in new circumstances". Then there was a link to two research papers that stated that people who could learn from their experiences progress in career faster.

In 12 years Korn Ferry published new research. According to this research employees with learning agility were two times likely to be promoted than employees with lower levels of learning agility. The conclusion was that companies who could identify and hire people with higher levels of learning agility had less problems with leadership candidates.

93% of high potentials are also high performers.

According to Korn Ferry research, high potential employees had the following characteristics: learning agility when working on new tasks, highly adaptive to uncertainty and complexity, open to alternative possibilities, ready to take challenges. It seemed reasonable, but the devil was in detail.


  • High Potentials as High Learners
  • Fast rising talent

GMA and performance - how they are connected?

In 2004 Frank L. Schmidt and John Hunter researchers who worked in the area of personnel selection published a revolutionary research. They proved that General Mental Ability (GMA) can predict future performance better than any other assessment methods even compared to work experience.

So if you need to choose 50 employees out of 500 who would be considred to take managerial positions, it is better to consider their learning agility. The correlation between GMA and performance is higher than any form of assessments. And the higher the managerial position the higher the correlation.

For a manager with 12 years of experience, the correlation coefficient between GMA and Job Performance Rating is 0.59. It is a very high correlation. For comparison, correlation for Viagra and improved "performance" is 0.38.

GMA is essential in high velocity unpredictable environments, when high adaptability and cognitive flexibility is required. For HR professionals it is important that cognitive activities in one type of tasks is comparable with another type of tasks.

It is important to note that unlike all other models of potential assessments research on GMA is absolutely valid.

As stated in the In 2004 Frank L. Schmidt and John Hunter research paper "GMA predicts both later occupational level and performance within one’s chosen occupation — and predicts both outcomes more strongly than any other trait". Why do HR consultancies need to develop anything else?

GWA is not widely used nowadays despite proven effectiveness and validity.


  • General Mental Ability in the World of Work: Occupational Attainment and Job Performance

Models HR consultancies use

Leadership assessments used bu large HR consultancies have two things that are a bit off.

First, the theory that underpins it is a bit "shaky". CCL changed its methodology two times in the last 15 years, Korn Ferry - five times. People from academia in their publications prove that these models are not proved scientifically. It doesn't stop enterprise clients from buying.

Second, when we look at most of them, we gave a feeling of deja-vu. Let's have a look at the illustration above. Different accent, the same content.


  • The paper published more than 10 years ago, but still relevant: Allan H. Church (PepsiCo Inc.) «The Pearls and Perils of Identifying Potential»
  • Korn Ferry (2016)
  • Talent X7 (2017)
  • CCL (2019)

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