Competency Questions – The Studio/E Compass Part 2

Part 2 in a 3-part series.

We created the Studio/E Compass as an exploration tool to help you chart your direction in the unknown — where directions are seriously lacking! — and drive you toward a desired outcome. In Idea and MVP: The Studio/E Compass Part 1, we walked through the first three steps of the tool. Now, for step four, it’s time to really think about your Idea. We designed it so that a turn around the Compass enforces thinking about each of the competencies we believe you need to launch an Idea.

Make the most out of this tool by filling out steps 1-3 (outlined here), then: Go around the Compass clockwise and answer the questions in the outer ring, beginning at the top with Current Means. These questions were designed to get you thinking about your Ideas in ways that will propel you forward incrementally (remember, small steps add up to big momentum). If you’re an overachiever, you may be tempted to move into the inner rings of the Compass and fill out Declarations and Actions — but resist the urge for now!

Here’s a breakdown of the competencies and their corresponding questions:

Current Means

Current Means is asset-based thinking. It allows you to think from a place of positive abundance and use what you have right now to get your Ideas into action quickly. In other words, instead of making a list of what you need, you think about what you already have at hand to get started.

Question: What do you have to put toward your Idea right now?


  • You have experiences – you have done cool things and gained knowledge of what to do (and what not to do).

  • You have skills – these are things you have learned to do well.

  • You have relationships – you have family, friends, and connections you’ve made through your past activities.


Ideation is the act of generating Ideas. It allows you to make your Ideas unique, valuable, and tangible so you can share them with others and receive feedback to make your Ideas better.

Question: What makes your Idea of unique value to its user?


  • How does my Idea meet the needs of my user? (e.g. their jobs, pains, and gains?)

  • How can I add empathy to my Idea?

  • How can I make my Idea the “only?”


Boundaries are parameters you declare for your explorations into the unknown. When you run into a Boundary, like hitting the maximum amount of time you are willing to spend on your Idea for example, you can then decide if you want to keep going, pivot or kill your Idea altogether.

Question: What are you willing to invest in your Idea to take the next step? (e.g. time, money, reputation, other opportunities).


  • What are you not willing to invest in your Idea to take the next step?

  • Can you take this step (can you get your narrator, or your inner voice, on board?)


Enrollment is the art of inviting another to combine their desire with yours. This practice of strategically including others is a catalyst to making your Idea better. Enrollment is about relationships, while selling is about transactions. Keep that in mind when answering the Enrollment question.

Question: Who can help make my Idea better and why would they help?


  • Where is your Idea incomplete?

  • Who has the ability to make your Idea more complete?

  • Why would they help you?

Once you answer the four questions above, you’re ready to make declarations and decide on actions. We’ll get into those in Part 3.

Read Part 1 (Idea and MVP) and Part 3 (Declarations and Actions) of this series on the Studio/E Compass.

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Do This: Think of an Idea you are working on or would like to begin working on. Go around the Compass and answer the four competency questions. How does that change the way you think about your Idea?

[Photo by Chris Knight on Unsplash]

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