An Immersive Learning Design – Driven By Analysis Of Authentic Performance – From Back In The Day

Back in the day – back in 1987 - I developed a 10 day course, shortened post-Pilot to 8 days, that was a very intense-immersive learning experience. It was a survival skills course of sorts.

And then I co-delivered that 31 times including 5 times in The Netherlands. It was so intense that it once inspired poetry from a participant. It was a Basics Course for Product Planners and Product Managers. Total target audience of 1100 – overseeing the investments of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. A huge lever – as seen by some smart management.

This course was a wrap up to the Learning Path/ T&D Path’s Phase 1 – the Orientation/ OnBoarding Phase – which included all of the basic survival skills needed by all in the target audience – regardless of which of the 5 business units they came from, nor the nature of their products, nor its place in the life cycle.

It was the wrap up to a very flexible front end of the curriculum architecture – needed to accommodate the very different job needs – despite the job titles being all the same no two jobs in the 1100 target audience were the same - and then there was the variances of the incoming knowledge and skills – from people off the street, out of college, out of some other job in the company, and others who were from other parts of the industry’s supplier chain.

In this 8-day intense, immersive, no-computers in the room, we had a simulation exercise – 5 rounds of 5 products going though 5 life-cycle phases – and a game board with Breaks Cards. Breaks to add variances for each team of each product from class to class. Conduct a meeting based on your data, collect data from others, update the plan and then present the plan for critique – by me and the other facilitator (of the learning experience).

This was all based on a Curriculum Architecture Design effort conducted in the summer and fall of 1986 - followed by an ADDIE-like effort in the spring, summer and fall of 1987. The course was Pilot-Tested in October of 1987. We had 20 attendees plus a handful of observers. The Pilot-Test was a big success – except for one attendee who couldn’t see that her job – a tiny slice of the whole due to her products investment size, price and scale compared to almost all others (out of the 500,000 products they were “managing”). She left before we were done. That too made my client happy. More about why later.

The 1251 module – the 8-day course – is the last blue box in the column on the left-side – the 1000 Series. The prior modules were all short. Many on the new CBT system in place. Some were pamphlets that were 3-hole punched. There was one video – 11 minutes – which is the first blue box at the top on the left below. A link to that comes later.  The 57 modules preceding this 8-day event addressed those variances – with a blend of strategies and tactics – including Interview Guides for defining your job with your Boss and Product Team and Peers. And then doing the training plan (in Module 1054).

A Learner (Participant) wrote Nick Bridges and I (the facilitators) a poem at the end of one of the 8-day sessions after that 10-day pilot-test. Lucky her.


The sentiment expressed by the poem’s author was shared by many in the course. It was indeed an intense 8-days. It was drill-and-practiced, and then some more, and more, more and finally the last more. 5 times.

Years into this I discovered why my client came to our evening dinner/ celebratory party on the last night – before the last day – and to the last day’s read outs of the teams’ final Product Plans – in the Decline & Discontinuous Phase of their life cycle – and he almost always brought a couple of executives along for both.

They all got a chance to see these new folks – even if it was during their post-dinner awards acceptance speeches for the goofy awards we had cooked up – so that everyone could be recognized (lampooned if we knew they’d like that more) – and then again when they shared what they thought they had personally learned with each other – and the guest executives. They were doing some talent scouting in that evening and next day’s final Product Planning read outs. Those read outs were to be of plans that did not put the rosiest of spins on the data and projections. That was not the game.

The game was to be able to take the data presented by the case materials – and factor in the Breaks (good and/or bad) – and then plan accordingly. The guest executives often didn’t like the bad news from bad news’ sources. Our attendees sometimes fought back with the data that they had – and resisted the temptation to agree with these bosses of bosses of bosses. Those that had the guts to “talk back” and correct these guests – often scored huge points with these guests. Career making points. And of course, some may have doomed their careers. I don’t really know.

Talk about authentic!

I saw as it a way to help my client keep the 8-day format intact – an immersive learning experience don’t you know – that produced real capabilities back on the job – by showcasing the testimonials from the attendees that last evening and day. He saw it as a way to see who was smart, presented well, and didn’t cave. He told me this after we’d been doing the program for years. I ended up delivering this 31 times between 1987 and 1994.

Here is a 10 minute video of me back in 1989 presenting Lesson 1 of that 8-day course – introducing it to the attendees: here.

The Analysis Report from 1986 was 131 pages – these next graphics are the first 8 pages – of the Areas of Performance – AoPs – that all other analysis data links back to, including outputs, measures and tasks, the gap analysis, and all enabling knowledge/skills, etc. And one Performance Model chart.

Here is the model – in the analysis report – that is explained in both videos – one referenced earlier and one referenced at the end of this post.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7


Page 8


And then all the rest of the analysis data details – about the Performance and the Enabling Knowledge/Skills. And an assessment of existing T&D content for reuse potential in this Curriculum design.

All the way to page 131. I’ll spare you that. It was a very complex job, in a complex organization, in a complex industry – with high stakes.

Here is an 11 minute video – introducing the new-to-the-job Product Planner/Manager to their development tools – their Curriculum Architecture and their Supervisor’s T&D Planning Guide – to create an individualized training plan – see that … here.

This was pretty unique at the time - and still pretty unique. How many individual jobs get this treatment?

How many should? That is the real question – to a good steward – of shareholder equity.


Focus on Performance Competence and Enable That

It just seems to me that many, too many, in the “Learning Space” don’t focus on the ends (performance) – but focus on the means (methods/tools).

I like tools (gizmos) – and technology (applied science, not gizmos) as much as the next fan. But for the purpose of Performance Improvement, most often; for pure fun, less often.

In an Enterprise Learning Context (versus Educational Learning or Personal Learning) I use the above graphic/model as my mental model – unless I feel it OK to make explicit and draw it out by hand – or call up the graphic from the wizardry tools of IT.

I focus on Performance Competence requirements – the ideal state and the current state – as driven by the Processes – which themselves may be the “nut to crack” to get after improved performance. Perhaps making the Process itself doable, lean and with reduced variation – or – increased variation (innovation) as needed.

Stakeholders, including BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE CUSTOMER, set the metrics, measures and standards – whether you like it or not.

And once the Performance Competence Requirements are clear – and appropriate/ not “out-of-balance” with the Stakeholder Requirements – then any gaps in the enablers required can be determined and traced back to their “Provisioning Systems/Processes/Organizations” to see where their processes and enablers may need to be addressed. Perhaps they need different enablers. Or a fixed Process – lean and/or with Six Sigma levels of variation. Or other enablers.

Check out the Big Picture of EPPI – or Gilbert’s BEM – or Binder’s Six Boxes – or the dozens of other, overlapping/more-alike-than-not models and methods we operating in this space have created.

But – focus on performance and enable that. That focus BEFORE starting will provide you with what L4, L3 and L2 will require. L1 of course has been shown to be less than valid - often (see Roger Chevalier: here).

Come to ISPI 2011 in Orlando to learn more about all of this! Learn more about ISPI 2011 here.

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The Awareness/ Knowledge/ Skills Required for Those Practicing ISD Via The PACT Processes

It seems there have been a few lists such as the following out on the Internet lately – according to my Google Reader’s flow of content the past few weeks.

The following graphics lay out my view of the Knowledge/Skills need by PACT Practitioners – who follow the adopted/adapted methods of The PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management. This is covered in lean-ISD’s appendices C.

What I’ve left off of this list are specifics about your authoring tools, LMS/LCMS, and various Social Media – which you should be familiar with to a greater or a lessor extent depending on your job’s task assignments and what your Enterprise uses. Add those as appropriate to your situation.

The PACT Process Facilitator Knowledge and Skills Assessment and Planning PDF – here is the document as a PDF.

Click on the following graphics to enlarge/copy – or just click on and then copy the PDF above.

There are some key attributes, values and knowledge required…


What is being facilitated – is key…



Yes – it’s a lot. Have you made significant progress on those items where you have the greatest need?

lean-ISD is available as a free 410-page PDF here.

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90 Minute Video: Project Planning for HPT and ISD Efforts: Guy at ISPI 2009

Here is a video of my conference presentation – sorry about the one stationary camera approach – at ISPI 2 years ago on Project Planning.

In my experience – and I’ve been doing written project plans since 1979 – most major activities are preceded and then followed up by minor (yet important) tasks that aren’t often seen in context of what they enable/support.

Imagine that this next graphic were used twice - first to capture the initial meeting with the client – and the conduct of a survey (which I almost never do in my practice BTW).

Project are typically “one Task/Activity Block” after another…

Of course, many Project Activities might be done in parallel…

Here is a planning sheet…

What do you use to plan projects and collaborate with your client and stakeholders?

Point us to that please.

BTW – I have been training my staff and client staff on my approach to Project Planning for ISD and HPT efforts since the mid – 1980s.

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Quit Treating All Learners The Same – Unless It’s Only Your Equity That You Wish To Reinvest

In an Enterprise Learning Context…

It’s all about the Benjamins.

Especially if you are THE shareholder – the single shareholder – or even one of many.

How do you wish “YOUR MONEY” invested – or spent – or paid out in dividends back to you?

You might wish to put your money where the returns are – addressing opportunities and problems – where the R’s clearly outweighs the I’s – the Returns outweighing the Investments.

Or – you might not care about Returns exceeding Investments.

If it’s your money – you can certainly do whatever you want.

But if it’s someone else’s money…?

A good steward of shareholder equity would be looking after the Benjamins.

So avoid low hanging fruit that “is applicable” to many – as the Returns are typically nil – unless the authenticity will be high for everyone. Put your investment dollars – for more costly Formal Learning than lower cost Informal – where there are potentially significant Returns to be garnered.

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Enterprise Performance Data Linkages

My focus – as an Instructional Designer and Manager in the Instructional/Performance Improvement space – has always centered on Performance Competence first, Learners/Performers second, and the Enablers third. Some of those enablers are Instructional (before and/or during the moment of need) – most are not. And – Performance Competence is measured against standards set by the Stakeholders – including but not limited to Customers. At least in my EPPI – Enterprise Process Performance Improvement methods – my version of HPT – Human Performance Technology.

I needed my model, methods, tools and techniques to be scalable – either tightly focused on one small task-set, or ever larger task-sets that comprise a job effort, team effort, departmental effort, a functional effort - or an entire Enterprise effort.

And although my focus is typically on the “Awareness/ Knowledge/ Skills” of the Performers (Learners) – I have to be able to help my clients and project participants see that it’s not always an inadequacy in the Awareness/ Knowledge/ Skills of the Learners/Performers – it could be something else. They get that logic when they see these not-so-simple graphics. And then they see it all in simpler terms.

This model (in the next graphic) portrays the scalable nature of process analysis efforts.

Imagine looking at a budgeting “process” that is used by each department of each function – and used by teams for cross-functional projects. Up and down and across the Enterprise – this process has deliverables (outputs) that can be measured and task delineated – even if there is more than one way (a lean way) to do this – we’d pick one for teaching the new Learners/Performers.

Once we understand the Process Performance Requirements (Process Competence by another name) we can systematically derive the enablers that need to be provisioned to the process.

There are two types in this EPPI Methodology-set: Human and Environmental.

Once we understood “what’s not adequate” (not six sigma perfect) enough for our targeted processes (tasks, jobs, teams, departments, functions or the Enchilada) we can look elsewhere in the Enterprise – and it’s suppliers – to see where the assets that enable are being provisioned from. Where do the “required” Awareness/ Knowledge/ Skills come from – how do these get into the mix?

Same with Data/ Information required to enable a process or processes.

The Big Picture of EPPI…

The Stakeholders and the Provisioning Systems that enable a process or an entire set of processes – at any level.

Search for more by using “EPPI” – in your search on this Blog.

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