An Enterprise Process Performance Improvement Framework for Analysis

With a Process Orientation 

And a focus on Performance.

E- Shared and Unique P and S

The Framework?

I’ve been using this – or some variant of this – since the mid-1980s.

EPPA - Building Block View - Department

For More

There is a book available – and many Blog Posts – search on “Management AoPs” – to find those.

2011 e D-Y M-AoPC Book Cover

Book info – available as a Kindle and/or as a Paperback – here.

# # #

Zeroing In on the Critical Business Issues

Sometimes There Are Many CBIs – Critical Business Issues

And you don’t have the people and/or the funds to chase them all.

CBI Bulls Eye 4

And once you cull the important many down to the critical few – the affordable few – you can worry about clearly stating the Problem/Opportunity – the Issue – and begin your problem sizing and solving approach.

CBI Bulls Eye 1

Bulls Eyes and CBIs

To me the Issue – the Bulls Eye – is a Gap. From standards, expectations, past practice, stretch goals. Whatever. Something that misses the mark.

CBI Bulls Eye 2

The Value of each Gap is determined at each Enterprise using their current Metrics.


Most of the time.


The Key framework I use to define Gaps – at any/every level – is this … where it’s ALL ABOUT Performance Competence.

Performance Competence

Which I define as follows…


Gaps are the differences in Outputs and/or Tasks – from the Stakeholders’ Requirements.

And Stakeholders – plural ALWAYS – include the Customers – but doesn’t stop there. With Customers. They are just one type of Stakeholders – and they don’t Rule.


Customers may lead the definitions of Output or Task (Process) Requirements – but they do not ultimately rule in determining Requirements if and when there are conflicts.

In my models.

Your models may differ.

# # #

You Are Either Adding Value – Or You Are Not

And that is a problem. Not … could be a problem.

Adding Value – like beauty – is in the eye’s of the beholder. That’s part of the Problem. Only part of your Problem with Adding Value. But it’s critical.

And in business, the beholder cares about their CBIs – their Critical Business Issues. Not yours.


They care less about YOUR CBI or CBIs than they do about THEIR CBI or CBIs. Unless your CBIs are in the way of addressing their CBIs. It can be that simple.

And … some want immediate satisfaction on several, competing, CBIs – all at once.


So it can also be quite complex and demanding.

Back to Adding Value…

To quote my friend and colleague from my Professional Home, NSPI now ISPI, Dale Brethower, Ph.D.:

“You Are Either Adding Value or Subtracting Value”

To me – you cannot get to the point of adding value if you are not properly aligned and resourced. It just can’t happen.

Alignment is key.

But alignment to what … and how?


I tried to portray its importance – and the teaser for the what and how – via my graphic for the cover of my 2001 T&D Systems View book…

2001 TDSV Book Cover 1

… and … in this graphic …

TDSV w Callouts

The move to an alignment approach to governance might cause some some or many “stops and starts” – as the Enterprise takes the reins/ wheels/ keyboards – and learns the ropes. And they’ll make mistakes..

Such is the life of being aligned in complex and/or fast moving Enterprises and their key functions IMO. You get whipped around a bit. You need to deliver quality and be nimble and be quick.

When aligned more formally than not – the business itself can be assigned with making the ISD/PI assignments – picking the projects and goals – and the ISD/PI functions can go about executing their best practices – in a business like manner – and in enough control – to guarantee the quality of their output in cooperation and coordination with the customer and other key stakeholders.

They can also help the other organizational entities or groups that need to be involved – if asked to do so. They might not be asked. They might not be assigned that role. Don’t assume the role – but be ready to take it on if asked. Or no one else goes for it. Or unless someone went for it and it failed – or is failing.

Often, CBIs are going to take the coordinated efforts of many functions. If not always.

Are you ready to respond – and lead if needed?

Do you have the Processes, Infrastructure and People in place – well enough?

Start there – with your in-house efforts – and get your act together – as you work to help your internal clients.

Practice what you would preach.

That book … T&D Systems View … offer a process-orientation to your self assessment and improvement effort – all focsed on ROI. Not improvement for improvement’s sake. Improvement for the sake of the shareholders and stakeholders.

Stakeholder Hierachy Example 1

The clients you serve likely have stakeholders that can be framed and assessed via some model similar to this.

The framing using a hierarchy – implies that certain stakeholder’s REQUIREMENTS might over-rule another stakeholder’s REQUIREMENTS.

It happens, and your people might need to know how to sort thorough these kinds of dilemmas – quickly.

And it may help you in your focus to get after the right CBIs – and get aligned.

Here is one model of alignment – from the T&D Systems View book.

TD Gov & Adv Structure

Why Bother?

Why bother?

You wouldn’t bother – unless you were attempting to improve your own organization’s maturity.

Effectiveness and Efficiency.

ISD Maturity Model

Unless you believe that every response to a need should be free form, artistic in nature, and should just flow naturally in an unplanned manner.

But you would have bailed by now.

# # #

My 1st Friday Favorite Guru Series: Ryan Watkins

We begin the First Friday of this month, July 2015, with another of my Favorite Gurus, Ryan Watkins, Ph.D.

I met Ryan at NSPI/ISPI – the International Society for Performance Improvement, back in the early 1990s.

Ryan follows the NSPI/ISPI tradition – in that he freely shares – and in his case it’s his research on the research in many related and non-related fields – Ryan reviews many scholarly journals and shares his insights on the impact of research elsewhere to the discipline and practice of Human Performance Technology (HPT).

Ryan is someone to follow – IMO – if you are involved in the improvement of enterprise process performance.

About Ryan Watkins

From his web site short bio…

Ryan Watkins, Ph.D. is an associate professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC.  Some of his most recent publication include The Art of Knowledge Exchange (World Bank, 2014), available for free online, and A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results (World Bank, 2012), also available in print and free online. In 2013, A Guide to Assessing Needs was the most read online book available through the World Bank, with more than 57,000 reads.

Ryan is also an author of the world’s top-selling text on e-learning (with more than 150,000 copies in press and in its 4th edition), the E-learning Companion: A Learner’s Guide to Online Success (Houghton Mifflin, 2005, 2007; Cengage 2010, 2013), along with other books including the Handbook for Improving Performance in the Workplace – Volume 2 (Pfieffer/Wiley, 2010), Performance By Design: The systematic selection, design, and development of performance technologies (HRD Press, 2006), and 75 E-learning Activities: Making online courses interactive (Pfieffer, 2005).

The Handbook for Improving Performance in the Workplace won a 2011 ISPI Award of Excellence in the field of performance improvement.  In addition, he has co-authored three other books on organizational planning and more than 100 articles on instructional design, strategic planning, needs assessment, distance education, and performance technology. His articles are frequently cited in the performance improvement literature, making him the 4th most cited author of journal articles in the field.*

Ryan is an active member of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), the American Evaluation Association (AEA), and was a vice president of the Inter-American Distance Education Consortium (CREAD).   In 2005 Ryan was a visiting scientist with the National Science Foundation, and he routinely works on projects with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank on applying needs assessment, instructional design, and performance improvement to international assistance programs (including  work in Kenya, Tunisia, China, Mexico, and Laos PRD).

*Citation data provided in “HPT Roots and Branches: Analyzing Over 45 Years of the Field’s Own Citations.” by Linda Huglin (2010, Performance Improvement Quarterly).

Articles by Ryan

From his web site:



Books by Ryan

From his web site:


Videos of Ryan

Here is a 12 minute video I did with Ryan in 2010 at the ISPI Conference.

My Lessons Learned From Ryan

Ryan’s focus on the research and his willingness to freely share that – has always inspired me.

I appreciate all that he does.

Ryan on Social Media

Twitter – here.

Facebook – here.

LinkedIn – here.

Ryan’s web site – here.

Consulting Service Offerings

Adapted from his web site:

From two-day workshops on designing effective e-learning courses to six-month needs assessment projects, Ryan offers a variety of consulting services to organizations large and small. If you are interested in learning more about the consulting services he offers, please contact him.

His consulting capabilities include services in…

  • Needs assessment
  • Performance by design
  • E-learning design and development
  • Online student success
  • Instructional design
  • Strategic and system planning
  • Training and organizational development

Contact Info for Ryan

Ryan Watkins, Ph.D.

Educational Technology Leadership
The George Washington University
2134 G Street NW #103
Washington, DC 20052


Share Your Stories

If the work of Ryan Watkins has been a valuable influence and/or resource for you – please share your stories about that in the comments section below.

Or simply share a URL there that is relevant.

And – thank you – for sharing!

The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series

We each have many influencers, mentors, both active and passive, knowingly and unknowingly in their respective roles in our development.

This series is my attempt to acknowledge all of them… one by one… in no particular order… as I attempt to consciously reflect on what I have learned and whom I have learned it from, regarding all things “Performance Improvement” – my first focus.

I have a long list.

Lucky me.

Next month – Timm Esque.

Links to All of the Past Posts in the MFFF Guru Series

Here is a page with links to all of the Past Posts from this My First Friday Favorite Guru Series, as listed below – find that – here.

  • Timm Esque – August 2015
  • Ryan Watkins – July 2015
  • Ken Silber – June 2015
  • Roger Chevalier – May 2015
  • Darryl Sink – April 2015
  • Jeanne Farrington – March 2015
  • Don Clark – February 2015
  • Frank T. Wydra – January 2015
  • Philip B. Crosby – December 2014
  • Donald L. Dewar – November 2014
  • Joseph M. Juran – October 2014
  • W. Edwards Deming – September 2014
  • Bonnie B. Small – August 2014
  • Walter A. Shewhart – July 2014
  • Carl Binder – June 2014
  • Ruth Clark – May 2014
  • Rob Foshay – April 2014
  • John Carlisle – March 2014
  • Miki Lane – February 2014
  • Harold Stolovitch – January 2014
  • Bill Wiggenhorn – December 2013
  • Will Thalheimer – November 2013
  • Roger Kaufman – October 2013
  • Roger Addison – September 2013
  • Ray Svenson – August 2013
  • Dick (Richard E.) Clark – July 2013
  • Allison Rossett – June 2013
  • Carol Panza – May 2013
  • Jane Bozarth – April 2013
  • Judy Hale – March 2013
  • Margo Murray – February 2013
  • Neil Rackham – January 2013
  • Robert (Bob) F. Mager – December 2012
  • Joe H. Harless – November 2012
  • Thomas F. Gilbert – October 2012
  • Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi) – September 2012
  • Geary A. Rummler – August 2012
  • Dale Brethower – July 2012

Here is a page with links to all of the above Past Posts in the

 My First Friday Favorite Guru Series – here.

# # #

Final Friday of the Month: Part 6 – Assessing Your T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Systems

In this month’s Final Friday Feature we will address…

5 O’clock: T&D Product and Service Line Design System

5.1    T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process

5.2    T&D Product Line Design Process

5.3    T&D Service Line Design Process


This 12-part Blog series addresses the systems and processes of an organizational entity addressing T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management.

Original source is my 2001 book… T&D Systems View

2001 TDSV Book Cover

Free Book PDF

For more on this model please see the free 400+ page book: T&D Systems View at – which is intended as both an analytic and design tool – here:

The T&D/ L&D Clockface Model

We are “rockin’ round the clock” – so-to-speak – starting from the 12 O’Clock portion of the model – the most important sub-system in the system you have in place for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management – IMO.

Your models and thoughts may vary. And may need to.


The T&D Clock-Face Model

The 12 clockface positions of the T&D Systems View model each represent a subset of the total system’s Processes of T&D. Not all are of equal consequence, and therefore, imporatnce – and then worthy of improvement efforts. Sometimes you need to live with it as it is and do the best given current realites. But othertimes you need to address the improvement potential inheirant in any poor practices, policies and processes.

The T&D Systems View model’s (sub) Systems are organized into three groupings. Each of the 12 Systems’ Processes – the target of your assessment/analysis and/or design/development of improvement efforts. The 3 groupings are:

– T&D Leadership Systems and Processes

– T&D Core Systems and Processes

– T&D Support Systems and Processes

Here is the “big picture” – with System Call-Outs – for your once over…


Back to the model…

5 O’clock: T&D Product and Service Line Design System

5.1    T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process

5.2    T&D Product Line Design Process

5.3    T&D Service Line Design Process

T&D Product and Service Line Design System – This system’s processes organize the efforts to systematically define the performance-based T&D product line and the T&D service line required to deploy those T&D products to the appropriate learners for business high-payback, critical needs, not the needs of medium and low importance.

5.1. T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process

Outputs and Their “Utilities”

The key outputs from the T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process include the following:

Key Outputs Key Utilities
A list of prioritized T&D project targets with CONC (Cost of Non-Conformance) and COC (Cost of Conformance) figures from each advisory group to calculate ROI projections This will enable the Governance and Advisory System to make rational business decisions as to where to “strategically place their bets.”
A final priority list of target projects for T&D to address These are the marching orders for the T&D system for either product/service line design projects and/or product development efforts.

Is It Broken? Clues and Cues

Your T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process may be broken if

  • Projects undertaken by the T&D system are not the most critical to the enterprise.
  • Return on investment and economic value add forecasts do not exist or suggest a low-payback for the efforts.
  • You’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop/acquire generic content, e.g., time management and communications skills, when strategic and/or critical enterprise initiatives have been underresourced in the past.
  • No project management portfolio exists.
  • The portfolio is not aligned with business or T&D organization strategy.
  • The portfolio is not logical, and it doesn’t align with functions and/or management’s model of business.

5.2. T&D Product Line Design Process

Outputs and Their “Utilities”

The key outputs from the T&D Product Line Design Process include the following:

Key Outputs Key Utilities
T&D product architecture for a target audience and priority gaps in that architecture Provides a blueprint for process performance improvement via human enhancement of knowledge and skills.

Is It Broken? Clues and Cues

Your T&D Product Line Design Process may be broken if

  • T&D efforts are “one-offs” and not part of a comprehensive effort to understand the total, critical needs of targeted audiences and address those high-payback needs on a priority basis.
  • “Chunks”/products don’t maximize potential for appropriate reuse.
  • There are gaps in critical content.
  • There is redundant content between T&D products.
  • T&D products don’t directly target performance and impact performance adequately.
  • Key, critical jobs do not have a logical menu and path for career development—members of key target audiences don’t know what T&D to complete in what order.
  • Your product offerings don’t align with critical, high-payback business/T&D strategies and needs.

5.3. T&D Service Line Design Process

Process Outputs and Their “Utilities”

The key outputs from the T&D Service Line Design Process include the following:

Key Outputs Key Utilities
T&D service architecture and priority gaps in that architecture Allows the T&D Governance and Advisory System insight into the other potential offerings needed by the enterprise for their resource allocation decision processes.

Is It Broken? Clues and Cues

Your T&D Service Line Design Process may be broken if

  • Portions of the enterprise are complaining of a lack of needed services from T&D or are recommending/demanding them.
  • T&D efforts are “one-offs” and not part of a comprehensive effort to understand the total, critical needs of targeted audiences, and then address and meet those high-payback needs in a priority basis.
  • T&D services don’t directly target performance improvement.
  • Service offerings don’t align with critical, high-payback business/T&D strategies and needs.

Part 6 Summary

If you don’t have a deliberate and flexible/responsive architecture of products and services via some master planning efforts in collaboration between customers and suppliers – the critical business issues will not be properly addressed because the T&D System may be aligned to something, but it is mis-aligned to the enterprise’ Critical Business Issues – CBIs. And done so in a manner that communicates to all areas and concerns. IMO.

For more on this T&D Systems View model – please see the free 400+ page book: T&D Systems View at – which is intended as both an analytic and design tool.

For the free PDF to download – or the paperback book for $20 – please go:  here.

Prior Posts In This 2015 Series

Part 1: 12 O’clock: The T&D Governance & Advisory System – January 2015

Part 2: 1 O’clock: The T&D Strategic Planning System –  February 2015

Part 3: 2 O’clock: The T&D Operations Planning & Management System – March 2015

Part 4: 3 O’clock: T&D Cost/Benefits Measurement System – April 2015 

Part 5: 4 O’clock: T&D Process Improvement System – May 2015

Clock - no bg copy

Free Book PDF

Again – for more on this model please see the free 400+ page book: T&D Systems View – which is intended as both an analytic and design tool – here. It is also available as a $20 paperback.

Guy W. Wallace

Guy W. Wallace, has been an external ISD/HPT consultant since 1982, is the president of EPPIC Inc., and is a past president of ISPI – the International Society for Performance Improvement.

He has consulted with 75+ clients on Instruction and Documentation efforts since 1982, including projects with more than 45 F500 firms.

gww - EPPIC Inc Info

Guy is also the author of the book:  leanISD, a recipient of an ISPI 2002 Award of Excellence. He has authored/co-authored 13 other books. See the Resources tab at his web site at:

1999 lean-ISD Book Cover

lean-ISD – is available as a free PDF and/or a $30 paperback – here.

Guy may be reached via email at:

See Guy’s LinkedIn Profile – here.

# # #

The PACT Process for Establishing Areas of Performance (AoPs)

As the Analysis Framework for Ideal Performance and Gap Analysis

Introduction to AoPs

When modeling performance, it is critical to establish good Areas of Performance (AoPs) up-front in the process. The AoPs create a configuration—an organizing scheme for the performance data that will be captured on Performance Model (PM) charts.

There are many means/paths to the ends of AoP creation. You, the analyst, can create them, or you can facilitate an Analysis Team in creating them. It depends on your desire to have your customer really own the AoPs versus you the supplier owning the configuration. As long as I can use it for my downstream needs, I would rather that my customers own the configuration of their performances!

The example below is a set of AoPs for an account representative (salesperson) for the American Boat & Canoe Company (the ABC Company).

AoPs Sales Rep

Each AoP is then defined further via the Performance Model charts.

Here is another example.


A Performance Model (PM) chart is a device that captures specified data in a specific format about human performance within business processes. The example chart below is one of many pages of PM charts articulating the ideal and gap performance of ABC account representatives.

TMC SM Perf Model Chart

One of several pages for AoP #1

AoP Definition and Examples

AoPs are the segments of the total performance. They create a framework for the performance (or the piece parts of the performance) that when all added up, represent the whole job (whether it’s a job, a role, a process, or a departmental function—whatever scope the PM effort is charged to address).

AoPs are more process oriented than content oriented. They reflect major output and task sets.

Some good examples of AoPs are shown below. The first set is linear, and the second set is nonlinear. Both sets are appropriate given the specific performance they were intended to capture.

AoP Linear and Non- Linear Flow

Some examples of nonlinear AoPs are also illustrated – above.

AoPs need to provide a logical structure for looking at the work performance. A set of AoPs created by one analyst would certainly vary from AoPs created by another analyst for a similar performance—the variation between the background and experience of the facilitator and the team members pretty much guarantees it. There are probably approximately 88 good ways to segment performance . . . and 88,000 bad ways. It’s not an exact science, and it’s rarely easy, but there are ways to make this work reliably with a group.

Creating the AoP Structure/Framework

Creating the AoP framework for analyzing performance is like dividing an elephant apart to study it further. An elephant is too big to analyze all at once. As the saying goes, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”We could break the elephant down into thirds: front, middle, and rear. Or we could divide it by top, middle, and bottom. Or we might divide it into proper scientific classes of anatomy. Or we could focus in on just its front end, or just its legs and feet, or just its skeleton.  AoP Segmentation Scheme

What’s correct depends entirely on your terminal objectives that caused your need to analyze the performance elephant in the first place. Our terminal objective is usually to design, develop, and deploy performance-based T&D within our PACT Processes, lean-ISD methodologies.

It’s also critical that your customers perceive the AoPs as appropriate and complete in representing their performance.

How do you judge the appropriateness and completeness of a set of AoPs? As almost always, it depends. It depends on the scope and terminal objectives of your project. It depends upon the Risks and/or Rewards inheirant in the Current State situation.

To challenge your first cut at a set of AoPs, ask yourself the following:

  • Does it directly conflict with or contradict any other prevailing/established models of the process or performance? Will this politically sell? (We want it to!)
  • Do all the tasks and outputs of the process/performer fit within this AoP framework? Are there any missing AoPs? (We don’t want any!)
  • Does this AoP framework minimize all overlaps and gaps? Will the same outputs or tasks fit into multiple AoPs? (We want it to be very clean and clear, with no overlaps and gaps, if possible.)

AoP Examples 1

But what about “voice of the supplier” (VOS)? Do we get a say in the appropriateness or completeness of the AoPs? Yes, we do!The approach we take in our Analysis Team meetings is to ask the team numerous front-end questions as we waste a page or two of flip chart paper attempting to create some semblance of order out of the many things performers do in their jobs. That gives us “voice of the customer” (VOC).

As the T&D supplier, we have to judge the set of AoPs we are to work with in terms of how well this AoP performance framework will allow us to further analyze the performance targeted by our project.

AoP Examples 2

Will the AoP framework assist us in specifying ideal performance, conducting a gap analysis, and then deriving all of the enabling knowledge and skills? Or will it hinder us? And finally, will it help us later in our post-analysis efforts to configure and sequence instructional content, detail the design, develop the instruction, pilot-test and update, and then finally deploy performance-based training and development (T&D) that has process performance impact for the good? Will we end up with a positive ROI and EVA when the dust settles?

If the AoP framework will help us, cool. If it will hinder us, then start over, even if the Analysis Team loves the non-useful AoP configuration! This may be difficult to sell, but if we ISD suppliers can’t use it as a means to our ends, what good is it?

Utility of the Analysis Team

If we want our Performance Models to be good, we need to ensure that the framework we start with will serve us well and not lead us inadvertently into a blind alley or deep ditch. We always take our time at the front end of our Analysis Team meetings to warm up to the group and create this framework with their assistance.

The Analysis Team is there to help us help them, not to impede us. If we can’t do our job with the models that they demand we use, they hinder our ability to serve them. We must often sell them on helping us meet our needs as well as meeting their needs. This may take some time at the front end of your Analysis Team meeting.

Get your Analysis Team master performers and subject matter experts engaged in this PM process! They usually do want to play, even if they are resistant at the start. This is their world we are trying to model, and it usually is really important to them to get it right. They simply don’t often know what we are looking for as we start, and it feels awkward to everyone (including you, the facilitator-in-charge).

Going slow to go fast is our motto.

Pre-Analysis Meeting Preparation

Ideally, you would have had some familiarity with the performance you are to model prior to attempting to facilitate the Analysis Team meeting. You may have had the opportunity to

  • Read job descriptions (which usually won’t tell you much, but it is sort of a “due diligence” task you should complete).
  • Observe some of the performers in the work environment(s).
  • Interview performers at varying levels of skills and experience and at different ends of the work process and organizational hierarchy. You might talk with one or more

–    Master performers

–    Average performers

–    Rookie performers

–    Supervisors/managers/executives

–    Customers

–    Suppliers

You may build a straw model of AoPs for sharing with the Analysis Team to jump-start the meeting. Or you may decide to keep the straw model in your back pocket and not share it with the Analysis Team because you perceived a potential issue with sharing/imposing it on them and think it best to use it only if the group gets stuck. (Too often the use of a straw model of AoPs inhibits the Analysis Team at the early stages of the meeting, and they aren’t willing to challenge a model that they may find suspect, for whatever reason.)

You may present your straw model, ask for challenges/suggestions/comments, and then move on assuming acceptance when/if everyone is quiet. Maybe they are deliberately thinking through the underlying complexities of your straw model as it compares and contrasts with their other models for how they look at or think about their performance. Give them time. Go slow to go fast . . . later.

Keep in mind that everyone has at least one mental model for what they do in their jobs. They may have gotten theirs from the organization they work for, which may have articulated a model of some sort. They may have been through an extensive process mapping exercise, and the process map now represents how they view their world of performance.

Or maybe a consultant gave them one many (or a few) moons ago, and it’s how they now think and converse about their world. It may exist. Do you know if one already exists or not?

If they’ve got one, great! Latch on to any prevailing models first, and try to make them work for you. That is the politically astute thing to do.

But, if they’ve got a model or framework for their world and you feel it doesn’t work for you, for your needs downstream in our PACT Processes, you’ve got an issue (or a problem or opportunity, depending on how you like to look at your half-filled glass).

You may have to sell them on why you need something different, and then explain what you’re looking for, how you will know in the end if it’s any good for your needs or not, and what it is that is salvageable about their model (if that is true).

Be good. Be lucky. Be whatever it takes.

But don’t allow yourself to get saddled with an inadequate set of AoPs to start your analysis effort. That’ll be the slow kiss of death for your overall effort.

You’ll see and feel the real pain of poor AoPs when you later

  • Define the ideal performance and existing shortfalls/gaps.
  • Derive the enabling knowledge and skills.
  • Assess existing T&D for its fit and appropriateness.
  • Read out your analysis data to your Project Steering Team.
  • Use the AoPs to configure the Curriculum Path’s AoP-derived Modules and Events in the Design Phase.

Hopefully you find a set of client data that works from the get-go or enables you to create a straw model that will help and not hinder you with the Analysis Team in the analysis meeting.

Otherwise, you’ll need to build your own set of AoPs with the Analysis Team looking over your shoulder as you waste a page or two in the slow start of your analysis meeting. Remember that their role is to judge your work as you do it, to build the quality in rather than attempting to inspect the quality in later. That’s why they are in the room with you—to help guide your activities and outputs and to reduce your later rework.

Either pay now or pay later; and paying later always costs more!

Analysis Team Meeting Tips for Getting Started

We start the effort with the Analysis Team by declaring that, “We are going to waste a page or two (of flip chart paper) just to get started.” The first part of the process, developing AoPs, is the most critical and the least procedural—it may/will feel very messy to the group. They may not be sure any of this is going to work until you are well into the Performance Model charts. You will feel their need to speed up and get to the charts—but don’t give in.

It is important as a facilitator to announce your intentions to the Analysis Team, to think out loud, etc. Allow no surprises, help the team understand what you’re looking for, and anticipate the next steps. They’ll like it better if they don’t always feel like you’re making it up as you go, as if you’re leading them and you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there.

Always tell them what you know about their performance and how, where, and from whom you received your information. Then attempt to place a stake in the ground. Ask them for a big task-set, a major portion of their performance.

Write the first input you get on your doublewide flip chart easel paper, squarely in the middle of the page (unless it’s obvious that it will end up near the front- or back-end of your AoPs). This is the “stake in the ground.”

Then ask what happens upstream before this, and backward chain additional potential AoPs (and be sure the team understands that they are potential AoPs, not necessarily the final version at all). Exhaust that until you bump into the beginning of the performance, and then go back to the stake and work downstream.

Once you have defined end-to-end performance, probe for other things they do that aren’t yet captured on the chart—sometimes things like maintenance duties, housekeeping, handling emergencies, etc., don’t come out if the group is focusing on a linear work process.

Lead the group—this isn’t a pure facilitator role or open brainstorming approach where the group contributes input and you simply scribe it. Instead you will need to propose ideas, rework ideas, probe for clarification, and rationalize changes so the group agrees with what is emerging on the flip chart page. You may often be forced to capture seemingly contradictory and/or irrelevant suggestions and then integrate them in a way that doesn’t alienate the participants but that, even more importantly, doesn’t pollute the AoP framework. (Remember, you and the rest of the group will be living with these AoPs for the rest of the meeting as well as downstream in the project.)

The key to analysis is recognizing patterns—try to look for and understand the following:

  • The heart of their performance

–    What is the “core” performance—what are they on the payroll for?

−    For lumberjacks and lumberjills it would be “sawing down trees”

−    For product managers it would be “managing a product through its life cycle”

−    For sales reps it would be “selling to customers”

  • The prevailing cycles of performance

–    Is there a part of the job that continually repeats itself?

−    For lumberjacks and lumber jills it would be “planning and sawing down trees” and then doing it again, unless they have to drag the trees off to the sawmill.

−    For product managers it would be “managing a product though its life cycle” and then doing it with other products simultaneously, each at various stages of their life cycles.

−    For sales reps it would be “preparing for and making sales calls on customers” and then attempting to sell to the next customer. Also one hopes there is the “paperwork” of closing the sale portion of the job.

AoP Examples 3

For example, if you were analyzing a TMC store manager role, you might have made “Financial Management” the AoP and lumped payables, banking, and tax returns (which have different cycles) together. If you were analyzing the bookkeeper role, you would probably use separate AoPs because you would have a different level of focus and detail on these different areas.Some jobs have multiple cycles—managing a store has daily cycles like opening and closing the store, monthly cycles like closing the books, and annual cycles like taking the complete store inventory. Work performances with vastly different cycles usually need to be kept in separate AoPs. But sometimes it can be better to cluster performance of like kinds and separate cycles at the output level.

AoP Examples 4

  • The prevailing linear flow to their performance

–    Is there a dominant flow to their job performance?

−    For lumberjacks and lumberjills it could be something like, “find marked tree, plan tree felling, make first cuts, make secondary cuts, fell tree, saw per job order, etc.”

−    For product managers it could be “develop product concept for management approval, assemble cross-functional product team, develop full-blown business case for approval, conduct marketing research, design product and manufacturing process, ramp up and implement the manufacturing process, develop sales channel and sales support system, develop service channel and system, manage product through its life cycle, prepare and plan for product discontinuance”

−    For sales reps it could be “portfolio and account planning, territory planning, sales call preparation, sales call conduct, sales call follow-up, sales administration”

  • Any cycles within cycles within each major AoP?

–    If any one (or a few) of the potential AoPs is at the heart of the performance, then there are probably AoPs within.

−    For sales reps it could be that “sales call preparation and sales call conduct” are the heart, repeating over and over again. We may need to break these out further.

Sometimes the physical layout of the workplace can provide clues, especially in production work. Often the work process makes its way from one end of the plant to the other with clearly defined “handoffs” designating the boundaries between AoPs.  In the same manner, you may see clues in the organizational structure—separate functions, roles, titles, etc., may indicate different work.

Depending on the types of jobs you have had prior to becoming a “performance modeler,” you may be able to identify similarities between the performance you are analyzing and your own experience. For example, have you ever worked in a fast food restaurant or gas station? If so, you should be able to conceptualize at least some of the customer service elements of a bank teller or customer service rep or store manager or airline counter clerk role.

One last general consideration is the overall nature of the work you are analyzing. Try to get an overall sense of the job, such as whether it is a job with many routine repetitive tasks or if it is one in which the performer has to first plan, then execute a string of complex, time-consuming tasks. Is it a job with many little miscellaneous tasks and fire fighting, or is the performer worrying about the “big picture?” What is the time frame of the job—is it managing projects that span months or managing a shift every day or managing a job every hour (like a print shop)?

What is the primary accomplishment? Do the AoPs reflect this? It will be easier for reviewers if the AoPs are in proportion to the real emphasis of the job rather than having one giant AoP that is 90 percent of the job and equal billing given to a bunch of peripheral tasks.

If you’re going to study multiple jobs in one analysis meeting, you will want to find the similar/shared AoPs and make sure they are common. Sometimes Analysis Teams resist this because they more readily see the surface (and sometimes unnecessary) differences and not the underlying similarities. While the Analysis Team owns the content, we own the process to ensure that we later see potentially shareable information. It’s called data configuration control, and we need to affect it throughout our ISD processes.

Compare the following jobs:

PACT Process for Establishing Areas of Performance _AoPs_ - GWW_Page_12

In the example jobs above, it is likely that the Security Check AoP is the same performance for a sky cap and gate attendant (you know the drill, “Has anyone unknown to you asked you to put things in your luggage . . . etc.”).

However, the Workstation Setup AoP may be slightly different performances. You would need to do some probing for additional outputs, etc., the gate attendant performs because they have to be prepared to check in passengers in addition to luggage. You won’t know as the analyst, but you will have to facilitate a sound group decision—their first reaction may or may not be right.

How Do You Know When You Are Done?

A good approximate target would be five to nine AoPs for a typical job title or small job family. For large, complex, cross-functional processes, you may end up with more than 20 AoPs.

The number of AoPs isn’t critical; there is no right number. The number and total scope of the performances being analyzed and whether or not they have a repetitive nature dictate what the right number and configuration of the AoPs might be.

If the performance of New Plant Development is to build major production facilities around the world . . .

These AoPs Are Better Than these AoPs
•   Define Project•   Assemble Project Planning and Oversight Team and Orient•   Plan Project (Macro)•   Assemble Project Working Team and Orient•   Plan Project (Micro Details)

•   Recruit and Contract with Additional Internal and External Resources

•   Oversee and Manage Project Construction Phases

•   Oversee Plant Start-up and Pilot-Testing

•   Oversee Plant Transition to New Plant Management Team

•   Plan Project•   Implement Plan•   Transition

The AoPs for the New Plant Development function should not include the following:

  • Interpersonal Communications Skills
  • Negotiating
  • Understanding the Local Culture

These are important and necessary to performance, but they are not AoPs. They are knowledge or skill items that are used to or enable someone to plan projects, oversee plant transitions, etc.

Do not confuse and do not allow the Analysis Team to be confused over the enablers of performance and what performance we are looking for. The difference between data on the AoPs and Performance Model charts versus the data on the Knowledge/Skill Matrices is the most easily misunderstood aspect of the PACT Process Performance Modeling by people unfamiliar with the method.

It certainly helps to have seen it done once or several times by a seasoned PACT Practitioner before attempting to go solo. But then again, there is something to “learning by discovery” when your first AoPs don’t work so smoothly in your follow-on analysis efforts or later in your design efforts. You will find a way to self-correct.


A good set of AoPs sets the stage for the downstream efficiency and effectiveness of the additional analysis efforts and later design work.

AoPs are a segmentation framework for the performance being analyzed. There are many right answers (sets of AoPs) that will work well for you. But there are even more poor answers (sets of AoPs) that will make it harder, if not impossible, to get out all of the knowledge/skill enablers and then design quality, impactful, performance-based T&D.

One thing we haven’t addressed in this article is how to structure AoPs for processes involving multiple roles. For this we employ an organizing scheme that maps the macroprocesses of their organization within which the AoPs fit (sort of like creating “super AoPs”). Needless to say, this makes the task of defining AoPs even more complex. But, it allows multiple analyses to be integrated and improves the efficiency of the analysis process in a large-scale effort (and management AoPs are also tricky). Stay tuned for future articles or maybe even an advanced workshop covering these topics!

Regardless of the project scale, however, your goal should be the same—create a set of performance-segmenting AoPs that

  • Defines the work performance in total with minimum/zero overlaps and gaps
  • Is useful for our additional analysis efforts (deriving knowledge/skill enablers)
  • Is acceptable to the customer and doesn’t violate their other views of the performance (and is ideally from their world in the first place, already in use, and with some level of management and target audience acceptance)
  • Will help us ensure that our later T&D designs reflect an orientation to performance first and content second

PACT Process and lean-ISD are service marks of EPPIC, Inc.

More is available in the Resources section of the web site – including free articles, presentations and books.

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