Performance Analysis – To Protect and Improve the Enterprise

First Protect – Then Improve

If This Is True in Your Context – How Can You Leverage?

The “This” being the message of the graphic above.

Especially when those at the top – the so called SMEs or Master Performers or Exemplars – cannot tell you “how they do it?”

But they’ll be happy to tell you “something.” But Research shows that they can miss up to 70% of what a novice needs to perform.

This has major implications for those wishing to use Social Learning, Social Media, Communities of Practice, Informal Learning – and Formal Learning based on the inputs of SMEs to the analysis, design, development of Learning Content.

Thinking about arming your SMEs with authoring tools so that can cut to the chase and Create Content?

Think again. Please.

That may be Rapid.

But in producing garbage. GIGO.

The Research


There are as least three powerful insights from recent studies of the brain that support cognitive science research findings:

First, our brains learn and process two very different types of knowledge; non conscious, automated knowledge and conscious,
controllable, declarative knowledge. Evidence also suggests that we believe we control our own learning by conscious choice when in fact nearly all mental operations are highly automated, including learning and problem solving;

Second, human beings have a very limited capacity to think during learning and problem solving and when that capacity is exceeded, thinking and learning stop without us being aware. Thus instruction and self managed learning must strive to avoid cognitive overload;

and Third, nearly all of our instructional design and cyber learning theories and models fail to account for the influence of non-conscious cognitive processes and therefore are inadequate to deal with complex learning and performance.

Evidence for these points will be described and their implications for instruction and the learning of problem solving and higher order thinking skills will be discussed. Models of learning and instruction that appear to help overcome some of these biological and cognitive barriers will be described. In addition, suggestions for new research questions on interactive learning environments that take account of the three insights will also be described.

What Can You Do to Tease Out Facts From Fiction from Your Master Performers?

Besides using a facilitated Analysis Team methodology and techniques during the Analysis efforts, I use the same group – or subsets of them – in the Design efforts, in the Development efforts, in the Pilot-Test efforts – and then we let them get back to their day jobs.

This has been my approach to what is now called CTA – Cognitive Task Analysis – since the late 1970s.

Because I recognized that at each stage of ADDIE – or some semblance of ADDIE – mine is different – we should be scratching the surface of Performance Requirements and the Knowledge/Skill enablers “just enough” to complete that Phase – and dive deeper into parts of it.

That’s why I use the same folks at each stage/phase – because if you bring new folks into the mix, into the fray, downstream, you uncover the meaning behind the phrase “you had to have been there.” Or, you should have been there when we discussed all of that, made our decisions, and moved on.

New folks almost always the team to “go back” and revisit things, re-hash them out. Spin their wheels.

And it’s almost always over the things that are quite arbitrary – not the things that are clear cut.

Think about that.

What’s clear is clear – and easy to come to consensus on.

What’s not so clear, and is in fact arbitrary – isn’t easy to come to consensus on in the first place. And that’s the stuff that Teams get mired in – it’s predictable. And then, sometimes, they need to revisit and re-rationalize their arbitrary decision – when they add new people to the effort. That leads to extra iteration. Spin – as in spinning of wheels. Lack of traction. Etc.


Even though asking a Team of Experts what needs to be done and how to do that is problematic – who else would you ask?

But make no mistake, just because you can facilitate a group of Master Performers to come to a consensus about Performance – doesn’t make them right.

But again, who would you ask?

That’s why using an intact team as one progresses, as the Team progresses through whatever you have in place that logically, rationally, creates and makes available Learning Content and Performance Support Content – is one Best Practice – that can mostly be adopted versus requiring to be adapted.

The Traditional Approach

Can a trained “observer” really understand , via interviews and observations and document reviews – the nuances of Performance? Can they tease out all of that Non-Conscious knowledge – the stuff that gone underground (so to speak) in the Master Performer’s mind – to enable them to be on automatic pilot – to clear their heads for more conscious thought for the issues at hand?

I think not – based on what I’ve experienced myself.

And I believe therein lies the reasons so many need to iterate – to get it right – and cannot predict their schedules and costs for getting the job done. The whole job, or just that analysis stuff.

Which is why Analysis Paralysis is a well known phrase in the Learning, Training, Instructional domains.

Our clients taught that phrase to us.

For more about my Group Process approach to analysis, see the free article from 1984 – or the book from 2011.

Models and Matrices- NSPI PIJ -1984 – 5 page PDF – the first publication of the performance and enabler analysis methods for ISD, from NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984.

For information about the book – please go here.

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One comment on “Performance Analysis – To Protect and Improve the Enterprise

  1. Pingback: T&D: Complex ISD Analysis & Design … via a FGP … with Empathy | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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