The K/S Matrices – Capture and Report Out the Enabling Knowledge/Skill Analysis Data

K/S Analysis

The goal of knowledge/skill analysis, the third of 4 types of ANALYSIS in the PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management…

…is to derive, systematically, the enabling knowledge/skill (K/S) items – and document them on Knowledge/Skill Matrices.

K/S data for use in additional analysis – AND – later in design – and then later yet again in development/acquisition after design.

Captured in the same meeting that follows-on analysis of performance, and maybe including design — or Analysis and Design are strung out in multiple meetings – appropriately depending on the type of PACT Project – and the scope of the performance and the anticipated content: the performance-based Information and Instruction to enable the workflow…the process performance.

K/S Items
The K/S items documented are the enablers that lead to the ideal, high-performance state.

These are knowledge/skill items that are not just thought to be needed, but known to be needed.

The Knowledge/Skill Matrices link each knowledge/skill item to the performance that it enables (as described in the Performance Model). Thus, the Performance Model ensures that the discrete knowledge/skill enablers in the Knowledge/Skill Matrices are performance relevant.

And, in turn, the performance orientation is passed on to the design work products for which the Knowledge/Skill Matrix is an input. And then to development/acquisition work products: performance-based Information and Instruction.

To develop a Knowledge/Skill Matrix, knowledge/skill items are identified and listed on a matrix chart. The process uses a list of predefined knowledge/skill categories, shown in the graphic below, and covered in detail in my book: lean-ISD.

The Starter List of 17 K/S Categories
Where did I get the starter list of 17 knowledge/skill categories? It was originally derived from Tom Gilbert’s knowledge map – see his classic book: Human Competence – in 1979, and my list had evolved to its current form over many, many projects by the mid-1980s.

Additional data points are gathered for each knowledge/skill item on the matrix; these are captured in the columns on the right-hand side of the matrix.

The data in the columns of the Knowledge/Skill Matrix is captured live by the facilitator during the same two- or three-day meeting in which the Performance Model is built.

A list of project specific K/S categories is reviewed – it is typically, but not always a “customized list” really a subset of the total list of 17, appropriately downselected for this project; and perhaps with additional “sub-K/S Categories” spelled out- providing a predefined set knowledge/skill categories that guides the team and allows the analyst to control the brainstorming session.

To make sure everything gets covered in the allotted time. Unless time and productivity of this group is not important. And how could that be?

By structuring the brainstorming effort in this way, the analyst can keep individual knowledge/skill items closely linked to Performance Competence – as described in the Performance Model charts from that prior analyses. That will be very helpful in downstream efforts for Design.

The columns after K/S ITEM and LINK to AoP/Performance:

The select/train column differentiates those items that are attended to (if indeed they are) by the selection process, not the training process. If the knowledge/skill item is supposed to be taken into account during the candidate selection process, the item should not be an issue for the T&D system. It won’t be an issue if the selection system really screens for these enablers. However, if some people get the job without having the required enabler, there is a residual T&D implication to deal with. The analyst appropriately marks training items with a “T” and selection items with an “S” as dictated by the Analysis Team consensus.

The criticality column gives an assessment of the importance of the knowledge/skill item. Critical items should definitely be included in high-priority T&D Modules and Events, as prioritized in the last phase of the Curriculum Architecture Design effort, or should receive extra emphasis in Modular Curriculum Development and Instructional Activity Development projects. The analyst marks each item as H, M, or L (high, medium, or low criticality) as the Analysis Team dictates.

The difficulty column indicates how hard the Analysis Team assesses it will be for the target audience to grasp the awareness, knowledge, or skill related to this knowledge/skill item. The analyst marks each item H, M, or L.

The volatility column is an assessment of the amount of maintenance required by the content covering the knowledge/skill item. Volatility impacts packaging and deployment/distribution strategies. For example, an ISD professional might not want to put a volatile piece of content into a complex, expensive Simulation.

Also, later in the design process, it’s a good idea to avoid placing volatile and nonvolatile content in the same T and D Module; separating the two types of content in design “to-as-great-an-extent-as-possible” reduces life-cycle maintenance costs for T&D products. The analyst marks this column H, M, or L.

The depth column indicates the depth of coverage needed for the eventual/potential training to cover the knowledge/skill item sufficiently for the learners to know how to apply it to performance. Thinking about prior, incoming knowledge of the targeted learner.

The analyst and team may decide that the appropriate depth is at the awareness level (A), the knowledge level (K), or the skill level (S).

Side Note: When I first began using these methods in the early 1980s I only used K and S. But then groups started protesting putting a K down for some items. They were afraid that every K would lead to a two hour module…when what was needed might take 5 minutes OR LESS Guy!

So I started using “A” for awareness and refer to it as short-shrift, a fast overview of the K level…whether needed or not by any more than one target audience. There has to be one Target Audience (theoretically) IF it made it to the K/S Matrices, even if it deserves no more than 2 minutes or less.

Example: K/S Item: System Safety Switch:

The system safety shut-off switch is right here. Flip it down for shutdown” – any questions?

Side Note 2: Oh- and when I am doing this for multiple audiences – then this is marked for the deepest need across all “primary” target audiences. My design methods later, always design in a building block fashion…from awareness to knowledge to skill – and so if some of the audiences need less than a “S” or less less than a “K” I don’t worry about it here. That will be facilitated by the PACT Design philosophies, methods, tools and templates later.

How Detailed to Get?
As mentioned, the Knowledge/Skill Matrix lists knowledge/skill items and links them back to the Performance Model. Usually this linkage is made at the Area of Performance level, but it could be at the output or task level. Outputs and tasks are listed for each Area of Performance in a Performance Model.

Some of our clients found it useful to link each knowledge/skill item to the role for each task. We usually link to the Area of Performance and will use the Design Team members’ knowledge of the more detailed linkages during the design process to accomplish what this more detailed effort would have accomplished earlier.

In PACT, we like to defer the details until just when they are needed. The increased cycle time required to link at a lower level may add a day or two depending on the amount of data generated during the analysis process. And that smells like analysis paralysis.

If you can defer until later in your planned efforts…do so. Many things may fall by the wayside in the journey through my or your ISD process, from analysis to design to development, and the more you defer until later the better off you might be. The quicker you’ll be.

Of course you need enough analysis data to review for ACT (Accuracy-Completeness-Timeliness/Time Completed/Deadline) with your Project Steering Team.

And your process needs to anticipate and plan for additional interactions with at least some of the members of the Analysis Team in the Design Team or Development Teams.

Many approaches to ISD seem to be a “get it all at once and don’t bother me again” approach to working with SMEs…or the lack of any process allows drift and drag and endless time is consumed with little to show for it. The only iterative part of PACT is meeting and interacting with some of the same PEOPLE in efforts following a trail of planning, analysis, design, development, pilot-testing, revision and release to ongoing deployment systems.

The PACT approach to ISD is about NPD – New Product Development. Determine requirements of the human performers. Design (inform selection systems and the client and) training systems to enable the learners/Performers to performer in the workflows of their potentially many processes responsibilities. Hand that off, the performance-based Information and Instruction – or – Instruction and Information that is performance relevant and enabling – to whatever delivery systems you have to get your content to the learners/Performers!

Importance of the K/S Data
The Knowledge/Skill Matrix and Performance Model are crucial to the PACT Processes because of the way they confer a performance orientation onto subsequent work products.

That’s how the PACT Processes work…efficiently capturing data from a group of recognized Master Performers brought together to define the requirements – Performance Competence via the Performance Models – and the enabling Knowledge/Skills…and other enablers depending on whether your effort is more ISD or more HPT…

…Instructional Systems Design or Human Performance Technology…with ISD being a subset of HPT in my model.

Oh, and my thoughts regarding content in the varied ISD spaces addressing FUN and GAMES and Telling Stories…

…Learning only needs to be made into GAMES or FUN or Stories only – if it isn’t directly performance related.

Any Learning Product that isn’t self-apparent to be Performance Relevant by the Learner probably isn’t. And therefore – a questionable Investment. From a business perspective.

What perspective are you expected to be taking? Learning for the sake of learning?

Or: Learning for the sake of Performance?

Or: Learning for the sake of the Enterprise? For ROI.

For experienced assistance with this performance-based vs. competency-based approach to ISD and HPT – please contact me:

Guy W Wallace

Certified Performance Technologist

President, EPPIC Inc.

office: 704- 895- 6364

mobile: 704- 746- 5126

I offer formal 3-5 day Workshops and less-formal 1-3 day Coaching Sessions for PACT Performance Analysts – teaching them “how to conduct the PACT Analysis methods using groups of Master Performers” – and have taught hundreds of practitioners via these formal and informal means since the mid-1980s.

For Workshop participant testimonials:

Final Note 1:

“Rule of 8 NOT” – many sharp readers are going to recognize and potentially misread a pattern. A pattern of 8. As in the number of AoPs in Performance Modeling examples I use…that also makes it way into the number of columns on the K/S Matricies in the “link to performance” set of columns. Clients back in the early 1990s saw that and assumed it was my recognition of 8 being a good number to strive for when breaking performance down into Areas of Performance – AoPs.

I never intended to suggest that. My examples come from workshops used to train groups in increments of 8 so that everyone gets a turn at learning the skills taught to PACT Practitioners. In my real world projects the numbers of AoPs have gone from 3 to 27. With a number between 6-12 being more typical.

Therefore I never go into these Analysis or Design meetings with my flip chart columns all neatly drawn on the flip chart paper. I got burned many times in the early days and eventually I learned. And I see many of my clients do that to save time in the meetings.

They don’t want to waste the groups time as they draw out the framework to populate. After all – Master Performers are VIPs. But I tell my VIP groups that I do this chart drawing as MY TIME to think “off-line” about what’s just happened and what – if anything – should I do to address something, redress something…or…to just plow on.

And I continue drawing my charts while they take a break.

Master Performers don’t often sit all day long and the more physical stretch breaks you give them, without disrupting their FLOW, the better. Draw up several charts at a time. Don’t break for every new chart.

Final Note 2:
Regarding Category 0: Performance Requirements. Of course the Performance Requirements are themselves an enabling Knowledge. But as they are already captured in the Performance Model charts (and electronic or paper databases) they are not covered redundantly in the K/S Matrices.

My design process uses both sets of data to guide content organization in the design steps at either the CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design level of ISD or at the ADDIE-like level which in PACT is MCD or IAD – Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition or Instructional Activity Development and/or acquisition.

See more about this and other topics and offerings go to:

And in my book, Lean-ISD, available as a free 404 page PDF at site.

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2 comments on “The K/S Matrices – Capture and Report Out the Enabling Knowledge/Skill Analysis Data

  1. Pingback: Old Made New – Tried and Tested Practices for Learning Pros | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: Target Audience Data | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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