Brick Building One-Offs Versus Building Buildings By Design

Brilliant or Blunder
Arming your SMEs – or better yet – your Master Performers – with the concepts and tools to build performance-based T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management “Instruction/Information” can be a brilliant tactic. Or a costly blunder.

The IT revolution has brought us the capability to enable anyone and everyone to build Instructional/Informational bricks by the dump truck load.

Only these I/I bricks being built are too often not adding up to much that is worthwhile. Not always. But often.

Effective Instructional/Informational is often expensive to develop and deploy and administer and maintain. Yes, prices/costs are coming down. First costs anyway. But what about the Life Cycle costs?

Is the new-found freedom for anyone/everyone to develop content – due to the availability of less-expensive development tools – going to add up to improved/sustained PERFORMANCE by the learners/Performers? For strategically important performance? For performance that really matters?

Empowered and Enabled
Imagine independent brick builders building bricks of varied dimensional sizes and quality.

Stacked loosely because the bricks don’t fit together tightly, some of the foundational layers cave in from the weight of those on top and/or those on top topple over. Gaps and overlaps when a solid wall was called for are caused by chaos in brick making – a lack of standards – or ignoring what research has discovered/uncovered.

Building a ton of bricks and loosely assembling them for “easy accessibility” – and then leaving it to the learners/Performers to navigate the pile to build their knowledge and performance capability – won’t work for the majority – according to the research. High levels of prior knowledge and high levels of motivation are required for the Informal approach to learning to really work. You’ve got to be able to and really want to recognize “bad bricks” and “good bricks” to navigate a Free Range of Content in the existing, let alone future, Info-Glut.

The Glut Is Here Now For Many
One client just a few years back found 27 two-hour versions of “Active Listening” in their internal Inventory of Content during the ETA – Existing T&D Assessment step in a CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design project. We were trying to boil the choices down to a more reasonable number for the learners/Performers of the Target Audience so that they wouldn’t have to do what my client did…spend over 20 hours himself trying to determine which was the most appropriate and effective 2-hour version. Or versions.

Just the fact that all 27 were two hours in length was a key clue/cue. What a coincidence! Imagine that! The bricks had one dimension of uniformity. But we were both skeptical.

Robust For Use/Misuse and Inevitable Change
If you enabled anyone/everyone to build your Awareness/Knowledge/Skill bricks have you asked yourselves: What happens when the content is no longer valid? What happens to that old content when the law or processes, or procedural tasks, or tools change?


No longer Best Practices that is.

Pay Me Now Or Pay Me Later
The tools of content development are becoming less expensive – but the costs of bad buildings has not.

First Costs are cheaper, Life Cycle Costs are not.

Control the Chaos Via Loose/Tight Approaches
Should you stop deploying tools to SMEs and Master Performers and ask them to stop creating content? And take control back?


Do you insure that an architect/engineer structure a valid design and that a building committee get involved and stay involved for oversight and maintenance?

I think so.

In my PACT Process for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management approaches those would be the ISDer as the architects/engineers – and the Governance & Advisory Board and Councils and Project Steering Teams as the building committees.

Using collaborative tools such as Social Networks and Wikis and all of the ever-changing/evolving DEVELOPMENT TOOLS at hand. To create a robust blueprint of where all those bricks might go – to add up to something worthwhile. And then to manage it as the inevitable change occurs.

Building bricks for Performance Competence – and not building bricks just for the sake of building bricks. Or just because one can.

Because your Enterprise cannot afford it over the Life Cycle of those resulting bricks and buildings.

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