Use a Group Process for Analysis & Design of a performance-based On-Boarding Path

Sometimes Instructional Needs Analysis Via Observations and Interviews Isn’t Practical

Sometimes the performance to be analyzed cannot be observed – from a practical standpoint – in a thorough and quick enough fashion. Who has time to observe all of a Brand Manager’s job tasks done during all of the phases of a New Product Development life cycle – multiple phases –  cradle to grave – taking multiple years in reality?

Interviewing all of the players in all of the various phases across product lines might be an alternative. But very time consuming. Other jobs are just as difficult due to their complexity. I’ve done the analysis on many.

The best approach for complex jobs in my opinion is: a group process. Bring the master performers together and have them come to consensus on ideal performance and their gap analysis for all non-Master Performers. And – just because you ask them and they tell you doesn’t make them right. But who else would you ask? And who else can correct anyone else on the topic – but another Master Performer – or a handful or two? The trick is to get them to challenge each other without it becoming a fight.

I’ve applied this group process to defining a managers job – where we created a performance-based T&D Path – an On-Boarding Path – leading to performance competence – if you will – 16 times now.

Here are some examples from a project done for the US Navy about 8 years ago – for two levels of management in the Production organization at a naval shipyard.

We started with this segmentation scheme for Manager’s Areas of Performance (AoPs).

Click on each graphic for a larger view – and to copy from.


Then we produced over 20 pages of Performance Model charts – describing the job outputs, key measures, tasks and roles/responsibilities – as the next graphic portrays. Here, next, is the first page for that first AoP (top left corner).


Note the gap analysis data. See how many items are not about knowledge/skills – for incumbents? But for new folks – it would almost all be a K/S gap.

Then we used the following sub-set of my 17 categories of Knowledge/Skill…to systematically derive all of the enabling K/Ss…


And we generated over 20 pages of this kind of data, next, about the knowledge/skill enablers. All in a 4 day Analysis Team meeting with hand-picked Master Performers.

Note the link of  the K/S item: Purchasing – back to 3 AoPs. We need content on Purchasing that enabled the tasks associated with the outputs back in those AoPs – not some generic set of content on Purchasing. The Level 2 and Level 3 tests would be performance and not knowledge – and would reflect that Performance Model data.

Then we used that data as we searched and reviewed “tons” of existing training and non-training content that my client had “in inventory” – including 26 2 hour modules on Active Listening – to see what might be used “as is” or “after modification” in the next Phase.

In that next Phase – Design – we processed the analysis data from the Analysis Phase. And made real-time decisions and groupings and estimations, all in a 4 day Design Team meeting with a Design Team that included only those from the original Analysis Team.


That 4 day meeting produced the following T&D Path…

Plus this T&D Path…

Plus this T&D Planning Guide…


In the 4th, final phase, decision are made about gap priorities – for action – build or buy – post-CAD.

It helps to have a proven process – to make this go quick.

The outputs of a typical CAD effort. I’ve done 74 since 1982.

This is from the first publication, Training Magazine, in September 1984 – on using the group process to create a curriculum architecture. I’d done 5 by then. Read that here.

My book, lean-ISD cover Curriculum Architecture Design – as a set of Products and as a set of Processes. I’d done 70 when this book was written.

The 1999 book, covered designed by the late Geary A. Rummler, is available as a free PDF here – and as a hardbound from Amazon here – or a Kindle here.

Here is what current ISPI President Miki Lane wrote as a book review in 1999…

lean-ISD takes all of the theory, books, courses and psuedo job-aids that are currently on the market about Instructional Systems Design and blows them out of the water. 

Previous “systems” approach books showed a lot of big boxes and diagrams which were to supposedly help the reader become proficient in the design process.  Here is a book that actually includes all of the information that fell through the cracks of other ISD training materials and shows you the way to actually get from one step to another.  Guy adds all of the caveats and tips he has learned in over twenty years of ISD practice and sprinkles them as job aids and stories throughout the book. 

However, the most critical part of the book for me was that Guy included the project and people management elements of ISD in the book.  Too often ISD models and materials forget that we are working with real people in getting the work done. 

This book helps explain and illustrate best practices in ensuring success in ISD projects.

1999  –  Miki Lane   –  Senior Partner   –  MVM The Communications Group

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