More On – Mostly Meaningless Numbers

The 9-9-9 (say it with emphasis!) model is somewhat familiar to many Americans – those who pay attention to the early rounds in the political process in America. Talk about needing ToC, lean and Six Sigma; but I digress.

I saw a recent opportunity – with the “discussion” of the 80-20, or the 70-20-10 Models – to revive and retool two models/concepts I have been using since the mid-1980s. In my model for Training (a catch-all phrase to replace another catch-all phrase: Instruction) – and in doing a Curriculum Architecture (a.k.a.: Instructional Architecture, Development Architecture, Learning Architecture or Learning Continuum) – I called out 3 levels of depth for any Content to be developed/acquired – as not EVERYTHING needed formal, skills-building Training. Sometimes knowledge-building Education would do – depending on the topic and the prior knowledge of the Target Audience. And at other times – awareness-building Communications was all that was necessary. Again, depending on the topic and the prior knowledge of the Target Audience. Always depending on that.

And at other times – some of the Content that could be, should not be – and if the Governance-Advisory System enabled the Business Decisions to take hold and provided Command & Control & Collaboration – then some Content that could be, would NEVER be. That would be left to what I use to call from the early 1980s until the mid 2000s: Un-Structured OJT – now known as Informal Learning.

At those other times, perhaps many/most of the time, perhaps only for a slim-minority of the times, Target Audience depending – always Target Audience depending – doing NOTHING would be best – for the Shareholders – who don’t wish to see any of their potential profits invested in things that don’t return more than their cost.

Most Learning folks don’t “get” that a dollar not spent falls directly to the bottom line – and that bottom line is paid out to shareholders in the form of dividends – which is why they bought stock – or started the Enterprise – in the first place. For the Returns.

Do the/their Math!

Models Such As 9-9-9-73 Don’t Mean Much Specifically

They are at best GRAND AVERAGES – and if they are good grand averages – then they have some meaning when looking at how an Entire Enterprise spends (Invests for Returns) its available resources, money and time – time is after all, money.

But is there any value in using such a set of numbers in looking at “the spend” for any one job title, team, department, function, business unit, division? Well maybe for the Division and maybe at the Business Unit.

As always, it depends.

As Always, It Depends – On the Target Audience

And the Risks to be Avoided and/or the Rewards to be Achieved – the R’s in ROI.

For any such model, 9-9-9-73 or its cousins, if any one Target Audience needed exactly that – that would be cause for doing at least two things:

  1. Run Out and Buy a Lottery Ticket – NOW – for this is just too coincidental to let this lucky day go by.
  2. Then go back to your desk and redo your math. Something is fishy – as they say.

Ask Yourself

  • Would you use 9-9-9-73 on your Scorecard – and proudly show the Enterprise Executives where you stand and how/if you are making progress towards the state of Nirvana?
  • Would you restructure your budgets to reflect 9-9-9-73?
  • Would 9-9-9-73 be used in the Request Screening Process on the front-end of your ADDIE-like (or not) Process for creating and/or acquiring Content for your Target Audience(s)?
Well?

From Most Formal to Most Informal

9 – the % of Instruction (and Information) developed or acquired as formal Training – to enable Performance – from the total of what ‘could be.” The most formal of the 3 modes of formal Instruction (and Information).

9 – the % of Instruction (and Information) developed or acquired as formal Education – to enable Performance – from the total of what ‘could be.” The mid-level in terms of formality of the 3 modes of formal Instruction (and Information).

9 – the % of Instruction (and Information) developed or acquired as formal Communications – to enable Performance – from the total of what ‘could be.” The least formal of the 3 modes of formal Instruction (and Information).

73 – the % of Instruction (and Information) not developed or acquired at all (no nickles spent) to enable Performance – from the total of what ‘could be.”

I’ve had many a Design Team worry that their Training function would go into their typical mode of “Overkill in the Extreme” and do two hours when less than 5 minutes was needed.

“Just tell them!” the Master Performers on the Design Team would scream (sometimes).

“You tell them that THIS has changed to THAT – and they’ll know what to do!” they pleaded, loudly – as we made those kinds of design decisions – collaboratively – in the madness of my ISD methods. Voice of the Master Performers – when you really want to be accurate, complete and appropriate – I tell Project Steering Teams who wonder why we would want to use those non-Training resources in the design process.

Them knowing “what to do” is, after all, the point of performance-based Training/ Instruction/ Learning/ Knowledge Management in a Wiki or whatever. Even of Informal Learning – what to do, when, etc. – is the point.

The Path to Get To the Right Numbers

I use the formal Curriculum Architecture Design process – and have used since 1982 – to figure out the performance expectations/requirements, the enabling knowledge and skills, the current content’s coverage of those two needs – and then design a Path (or Menu) of Content that includes all modes of feasible media and methods of deployment and access – and uses whatever already exists “as is” or “after modification” (as appropriate) – for a specific Target Audience or two or three or dozens (project scope depending).

For grand averages – such as 9-9-9-73 – don’t generally mean a thing – without THAT- THAT specific analysis data in hand that is. THAT has meaning, specifically.

Meaning to and for the learners, to their management, to their executives, and to their shareholders and other stakeholders. Those who count in the final analysis – for they do the counting.

It’s not about Learning – it’s about Performance.

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