Kicking the Tin Can

I get it. And then again, I don’t.

This Tin Can thing.

Tracking Your Learning Experiences

Image liberated from

Short Video on Tin Can

(The video has been removed/moved?)


And the Value of This Is?

Why, tracking Data about Learning Experiences of course.

As if all Data were meaningful.

As if all Learning Experiences were meaningful.

As if.

The Problem Is “Not Tracking What One Can Really Do” – That’s Valid In the First Place

Versus tracking the Learning Experiences. That may or may not lead to Performance Competence.

Or – tracking that one has taken a test. Even a Performance Test – a test to perform something.

Where is the SCORE about the Authenticity and Validity of those Tests?

And that the Tests were up to date?

Were the Test Criteria really:

  • Complete
  • Accurate
  • Appropriate

It’s still all about Activity. Where have you been? …

… not What Have you Accomplished?

Know where the Martian Rover “Curiosity” above has been is one thing – what it’s Accomplished is another.

Too Much Trust Me

What will the “Noise to Signal Ratio” be?

I did this.

And I did that.

I also did this other thing.

But – who says that this, that or the other thing have any real world validity and that you learned it well enough to actually be Performance Competent?

Or is all the “this, that and the other thing” just noise?

Begin with the End in Mind

Performance Competence – or Capability.

Capability To Do XYZ.

Then validate the Test.

Do we really care about how one became proficient? If so, why?

I think: Only if we are selling Data about All That Stuff.

Label me jaded. That’s OK.

For I have been Burned – and I have Learned.

Focus On Performance and Enable That

Track That. Store That. Report That.

Tell me when the old That has been put to rest and that there is a new That in its place – that is valid.

Or if I am two Thats behind. So I can skip to the latest That – and prove That I can do That. That latest That.

For More About Tin Can – So That You Can Decide Its Value For You

My intent here is to give you another perspective.

Perhaps in YOUR CONTEXT – for what other Context really matters? – this is exactly what you need.

Well then, BINGO!

Waiting For Results Versus Behaviors

I’m going to wait to get Breathless – when we have something meaningful to track, something besides Activities.

It’s because of my orientation to Performance. Not to Activities.

It’s my orientation to Results and not Behaviors – ala Tom Gilbert and “Human Competence” and being against the Cult of Behavior (per Tom).

It’s because I was schooled in that Performance Orientation (but you shouldn’t care) at NSPI and ISPI going back to 1979.

What you should care about is that my focus is on Performance (Results) first, then on the Behaviors (Activities) second – and tied with 2nd is “all of the other enablers” that make Performance possible – brings Results from the work efforts I do.

Not where I learned it.

Or even what I learned.

Means Versus Ends

Those “may” simply be means to the ends – or not.

It all depends on how tight those lines are between Performance Ability and Learnin’ That Stuff are.

Your thoughts?

About This and That? Please share.


See the Comments – the link/ bubble – is at the top right of this Post.

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7 comments on “Kicking the Tin Can

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  6. Thanks Steve. We may be in violent agreement.

    It has promise, true. But it also has a great potential for operator error and running amuck, tracking too much irrelevant data. I saw some of that with the advent of ERP in the 1990s, went it stretched MRP beyond MRP II, especially in the people/HR applications. But some of the Tin Can video suggestions as to what one might track, are probably what I was reacting to. Too many Activities and not enough demonstrated, valid Results. I’ve been involved in architecting performance-based assessment (qualifications/certifications) systems since 1987, and performance-based Content (Group-Paced, Self-Paced and Coached) since 1979. I’ve been in the herd run amuck per the directives of others.

    Let me now dream the dream of the potential.

    If this could be started with the terminal performance of Society (Kaufman’s Mega), then of the Enterprise, then the Organizations, and then of the People/Jobs, and then the learner/performer and their team/management was presented with a checklist for their local adaptation, to assess the learner/performer’s level of performance competence in key task-sets, and when critically important (only), assess demonstrated awareness, knowledge and/or skill in other required and critical enablers.

    Then I would wake up rested. And happy even while knowing that this probably wouldn’t be perfectly implemented, but it would at least be generally aimed at something with more R for the I.

    Thanks for your comment. And thanks for sharing elsewhere too. Cheers!


  7. I think you have a valid point here, Guy. There’s definitely potential to focus on activity and completely miss outcomes. On the other hand, there is great potential for the system to track accomplishments and outcomes or capture these things as an aggregate of activity. There’s lots of things we simply don’t see.

    In the context of my organization, much of our qualification pathing is based on observed performance. This manifests in something you’re probably familiar with, the PQS or a variant of the PQS. We capture these things quantitatively (GO/NO-GO) in a hierarchical structure of activities that are supposed to individually or collectively represent accomplishment. There is some resonance between this type of pathway tracking and the opportunities presented by Tin Can.

    If you apply the system features to track irrelevant activities, you’ll end up with useless data. If you align and apply the system to capture accomplishments, to fill in the gaps throughout the system that can paint real pictures of the stuff that happens when we accomplish the missions of our organizations, we might be better positioned to interpolate accurate maps, make better assignments, pinpoint performance gaps as a natural process rather than an overlaid activity.

    Tin Can is about more than activity streams, though. It also presents an opportunity to break learning activities out of the LMS fortress. In my org, this translates to potentially setting up a smart LRS node onboard deployed units to capture and relay accomplishments (Steve replaced the oil in the port side diesel, Joe experienced a fishing vessel boarding in the south pacific as a boarding team member, Susan piloted a C-130 for 4 hours).

    Extrapolate this a bit and apply this technology reporting standard to equipment. So now an engine can report a malfunction to a system that cross-walks to a human performance stream. Engine XX onboard XXXX malfunctioned. Steve repaired XX engine. Engine XX failed with the same failure. Looking across the organization at trend data AND performance data, we might see some useful business metrics emerge. As it stands, many of these data points are spread across disconnected systems. We can’t transform this data into useful knowledge without some method of capture and reporting (sensing) what’s happening — making clear the relationships and connections between one thing and another.

    It’s just a technology standard. But it’s a technology standard that’s being designed based on the evaluation of the tech standards it’s replacing. I get the apprehension to track activity. But I think you’re missing something if you aren’t accounting for the potential for the system to capture and paint meaningful pictures of accomplishment.


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