Without a Focus, upfront, on desired Performance Improvement – regarding Outputs produced and Tasks performed that meet Stakeholder Requirements for one or both – measuring IMPACT after the fact is left to measuring Learning Activities or a Desperate Seach for the Holy Grail of What Changed after the dust settles.
This, for me, goes back to a binder of Praxis workshop materials from 1972 I reviewed back in August of 1979 – my first month out of college and in my first T&D/L&D job, that included this paragraphic…
… Praxis was the consulting firm of Geary A. Rummler, Ph.D., and Tom Gilbert, Ph.D. back in the late 60 and into the late 70s.
In my experience since 1979 – including my time as an ISD consultant since 1982 – MOST L&D processes, practices, and practitioners – DO NOT focus on major accomplishments or outputs (the results of the activity) of the job.
So they cannot measure IMPACT – the deltas between pre and post Performance Competence.
Performance is sometimes quite complex – and can vary situationally – and without a focus on the Outputs that are Inputs downstream in someone’s Process/ WorkStream/ WorkFlows – it remains a mystery without very many concrete clues regarding IMPACT – have a strong effect on someone or something – such as improving the production of Outputs better, faster, and/or cheaper.
In that case, a lot of time and effort can be expended searching haystacks for results of L&D – unnecessarily.
And that’s something itself that should be a target for Performance Improvement, intentionally.
Joe was a scary inspiration at NSPI/ISPI back in the day. His presence was imposing at times – but he was as friendly and as helpful as anyone. I often encouraged others new to NSPI/ISPI conferences to introduce themselves – and, if they dared, to ask him a question.
In 1979 I learned the phrase: Avoid Cold Storage Training. Meaning, don’t expect people to hold in memory that which will not be reinforced by need and application soon after learning.
I was taught to give them a Job Aid, instead of what’s known today as a Learning Experience. We called it Training back in the day.
Turn Into the Skid
When I was 17, in the suburbs of Kansas City, my father taught me about driving in the snow and on ice. He took me to a local parking lot that was empty and had me drive on the ice and then slam on the brakes but not turn the steering wheel. We spun around in a circle – or a donut.
He then had me do it again and told me to turn the steering wheel. I did, and we spun around again. Then he had me repeat that but turn the steering wheel non-intuitively into the skid rather than away from the skid.
Later that evening… driving his car on a date… going up an icy hill, my wheels started spinning, and the car began to descend rather than ascend.
The direction I was then going would have had me off the road and down the hillside and into a lake – had I not turned into the slow skid to regain control and then ease back into my lane and down the hill, where I turned around and headed off in the opposite direction and around the lake the long, but flatter route.
My father’s lesson from back in late 1969, has been reinforced numerous times, as I have lived a good portion of my life where wintertime meant driving on snowy and icy roads was a necessity. I’ve taught several kids my father’s lesson, along with my story, made more dramatic for effect (hey – it was my car they’d be driving!).
Tuck and Roll
When I was in my mid-30s, I was riding my bike late one evening on a converted railroad bed that was now a walking/biking trail in the western suburbs of Chicago. I hit a hidden patch of stones and went into a skid that soon threw me off the trail and off my bike.
When it was all over, I realized that I had automatically done the “tuck and roll” and had ended up on my feet, fairly unscathed by the experience.
I hadn’t thought about “tuck and roll” consciously since I was a youngster on my bike and saw a friend use it when his front wheel landed in a ditch and his bike flipped, but he did the “tuck and roll” as if it was a well-rehearsed circus act and all of a sudden he was on his feet and his bike sat there upside down as if he were about to adjust the wheels or some other kid & bike maintenance chore.
I’ve tried to teach others, including my grandchildren, about “tuck and roll,” but I have heard no reports of it coming into play, to save the day, for anyone, yet.
The Learning-Applications Lag
These aren’t my only two experiences in pulling some long-lost lessons out of thin air for immediate applications. And there have been other times when I wished that would have happened and saved my… day.
So while it happens, I wouldn’t count on it – cold storage training or learning.
If the Performance Context allows for a Referenced Performance Response – provide Performance Guides/ Job Aids/ Performance Support for use when needed.
But if the Performance Context demands a Memorized Performance Response – provide Instruction/ Training/ Learning/ with plenty of Practice with Feedback. And if the applications of “it” isn’t often enough to really reinforce the learning – provide Spaced Learning – to keep it top of mind – because the demands for a Memorized Performance Response won’t leave time for referencing any guidance about what to do and how to do it when the time comes to Perform.
Difficulty of Knowledge & Skills Required Analysis Data informs Lesson Mapping…of the number of cycles that may be needed to ensure its memorization and/or application capability. Too often Instruction and Learning Experiences give short shrift to knowledge and skills that are difficult, and treat every K/S as if they were equally difficult to learn. They are not.
Effective Lesson Maps are informed by Performance & K/S Analysis data. Efficient Lesson Maps are informed by Target Audience & Existing Content Analysis Data.
Go for Performance – in your Design of Instruction and Learning Experiences – to add value for your stakeholders rather than potentially subtract value.
Two of the awards my work received were from outside the T&D/L&D Profession. I’ve received awards and recognition from professional affinity groups and from individuals starting back in 1989 when my work for AT&T Network Systems’ Product Managers was recognized by NSPI (now ISPI).
But the two that have meant the most to me came from sources who weren’t focused exclusively on T&D/L&D.
From General Motors 1998
General Motors Corporation’s MFD (Metal Fabrication Division) Tool and Die Supervisors College was awarded the 1998 Chairman’s Award Given by General Motors Corporation CEO Jack Smith, recognizes one of the “best of the best” global business initiatives in 1998 that has helped to move the business forward. Each division within General Motors, whether in North America or in other countries, has an opportunity to win the award. The College received the honor for the structured recruiting process and the rigorous training and development 18 months long program designed by Guy W. Wallace, that prepares new supervisors for a very skillful and challenging job.
From Siemens Building Technologies 1999
Our client’s “Time to Performance” effort in the late 1990s for critical field positions included certifying job holders for certain critical job performance capabilities. Using the adapted PACT Processes that I had created back in 1987 we conducted analysis and design and then developed both classroom and on-the-job support tools, a battery of certification/qualification tests that were all performance tests (no written tests), and the administrative systems to support both the roll-out and the ongoing management by both the field and headquarters. Our client won an Internal President’s Quality Award.
You can review most all (as I may have missed some) of my Professional Awards & Recognition here.