The Group Method
This “method/ technique” – as first described in a Training Magazine article from September 1984 that I co-authored back in 1983 the way that publishing cycles worked back in the day – is similar to a focus group, or a process modeling group. You bring together a group of the right people and process them, or facilitate them, to some ends. And do it – lean. As the data suggests that most SMEs can miss up to 70% of what a novice needs to perform (Richard E. Clark, EdD) – we need a way to combat that – and loose the “N of one” approach to instructional analysis.
In my ISD methods/processes I have the PACT Practitioner facilitate Project Steering Team Gate Review Meetings, Analysis Team Meetings, Design Team Meetings (one for CAD and another for MCD and yet another for IAD efforts), and one for MCD/IAD Development Team Kick-Offs, and also for Pilot-Test Kick-Offs (as appropriate).
A whole lot of facilitatin’ goin’ on! For both analysis and design – and also client gate reviews – for quality assurance – and command and control.
I use SMEs when we have a need for specific subject area that is integral to the targeted performance.
Just so you know – I differentiate between SMEs – Subject Matter Experts and Master Performers – and have been doing so since being burned by “SMEs” back in the early 1980s as discovered in those Pilot-Test sessions. I quickly discovered that handpicked Master Performers – handpick by a Project Steering Team versus just my client – would lead to a robust product – if I had a robust process to produce that robust product. I’m using “robust” here in terms of something being robust and able to withstand normal use and expected abuse – to some level.
I use Master Performers minimally – or I warn the client and other stakeholders of the PST – Project Steering Team accordingly. And then we plow ahead. And there have been a couple of projects where the PST said: there are no Master Performers. So we were left to create a “future state” model versus the “current state” of current Mastery (and not the blended average of Mastery and non-Mastery). We assembled the best cross–functional and level and enterprise “Analysis Team” to invent the Areas of Performance details: outputs and their metrics/standards, the associated Tasks, and some clarity about who does what with a Role/Responsibility table within the Performance Model’s optional data-set. Examples follow later.
I use Novice Performers when the real focus is on new-to-the-job and less or not on incumbents. And where the PST decided that the cast of the Analysis Team needed to be balanced by fresher eyes, those who had been up the learning curve most recently – versus 20 years ago. But they’d need to be able to stand up for their ideas with these Master Performers – who all have – by definition – big egos. Hmm. Tricky.
Managers / Supervisors
I use Managers and/or Supervisors when the situation suggests that even the Master Performers have a narrow view of the Big Picture and that could be broadened by bring in various manager levels into the process – if that won’t shut down the free-flow exchange (often in retrospect termed violent agreements by me and agreed to by all present – as we worked out the inevitable semantics of the targeted Performance Context).
Facilitating a group of Master Performers down your process is difficult – as they often see a better way to do things. Of course they would. So I preempt that – head it off at the pass – by bring it up first and letting them see the whole process and how the downstream steps require this data-set that I will facilitate them to develop – and then talk about my experiences in doing this (going back groooooaaaannnn decades now).
But what sells them on intending polite participation – is my declaration that: I own the Process and they own the Data Produced. And then I have to demonstrate what that means – about them owning the data and how my facilitation techniques lead them to a consensus where all of their voices may be heard – and where disagreements/challenges are all for the purpose of continuous improvement – and not a personal attack.
As I said, it’s tricky. And…
It’s all about Performance Competence.
The measures/metrics are always established by some group of Stakeholders – who either care about the Process, or the Product, or both. And sometimes more than one stakeholder cares about one aspect and has requirements that are in conflict with another stakeholder. I’m sorry, but someone wins and someone loses in this situation. It’s a business decision. Get that decision made so everyone can move on and perform, competently.
And Performance Competence is defined via the left-hand-side of the Performance Model Chart
An example of a Performance Model chart with the R/R column…
An example of a Performance Model chart without the R/R column…
And so your analysis is much more than a list of Tasks. It’s Tasks within the Performance Context of trying to produce Outputs to the Requirements (Measures) of the Stakeholders. That’s very different – and immediately give you the applications exercise specs, and the Level 2 and 3 specs. Look at those examples above and dream up the application exercises and the Observations Checklist for Ability to Perform post Learning (L2) and then Back at the Ranch (L3).
And then what? In the Analysis Team Meeting – what’s next…
Those enablers include what – for Learning/Training?
And if those are deficient – at the process – at the moment of need – including but not limited to the knowledge/skills of performers – those others would would include…as I segue from Learning to Performance – with my clients…
And where do we need to go within the Enterprise to collaborate on a fix or two appropriate to what we find? This template will enable you to figure out the specifics in your context…which of course, if different enough from others to make this a necessary step…
See this 106-page collection of my quarterly columns published by BPTrends – Business Process Trends – 2005 though 2007 – here – that covers all of this – Process Architecting and Process Improvement via my EPPI methodology/process-set – my version of actionable HPT – Human Performance Technology.
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