After “Focusing on Performance to Enable That” – Then What?

1st: Focus on Performance to Enable That

To positively improve Level 4/5 (Results/ROI) and Level 3 (Transfer) metrics – focus on authentic performance – the Tasks that lead to Outputs that both meet Stakeholder Requirements.

That is what people, in an Enterprise Learning Context, need to learn “how to do.”

And it certainly won’t impact Level 4 Return – which I learned in 1979 was ROI (now for some Level 5) – if it is not “all about” the authentic Performance Requirements.

And it won’t transfer very well if it is not authentic  as only 5 to 15% of Learners can learn out of context – learning something in one context and transferring to another – such as learning about something that isn’t authentic for them personally – and transferring what they learned later into their context. Which unfortunately is what too many clients and their Instructional Designers/Developers expect to happen.


OK. But Then What?

OK. You’ve nailed the Terminal Objectives – those that relate 1:1 on what the job performance requirements are.

Then what?

2nd: Focus on Both the Learning & Performance Environment

Understand when, where and how the Learners might be expected to Learn “How To Perform.”

Is that on-the-job – with all of the potential distractions of doing the job while trying to learn it?

Or is it in some isolation from the job, in some off-the-production floor (so to speak)? Or in some Classroom learning environment? Or both?

Are there others in the “Performance Environment” there to help the new Learner out – as required?

Can the Learner learn some basics off-the-job and then – using Social Learning with peers and supervisors – learn the rest on-the-job?

Will what they need to learn be reinforced each and every day – and perhaps “all day long” – and the learning reinforcement happens naturally? Or do some critical Performance Requirements pop up – in no predictable pattern – and have to be dealt with as they occur – without anyone nearby to assist?

Does the Learner Have an Albert?

My last job during college was as a retail sales clerk at a DIY Lumberyard in Lawrence Kansas. My first day started in the morning on a Saturday. I had very basic training: here is the Price book (5-6 inches thick), stand here at the counter, and – good luck.

Informal Learning here I come! Using Social Learning as the main mechanism.

Saturdays, I soon discovered was our busiest day. Did I mention it was BUSY? I looked up midway through my first sales transaction to see 7 people standing in my line – and there were 5 other Sales Clerks helping customers at that counter. Yikes. Luckily Al (Albert) had positioned himself next to me.

Al was the old guy on the floor. He was our resident expert. I, Guy-bert (so named by the cashier) called on Al for almost every Sales Transaction I made that day – and for many in the first few weeks. What code is plywood under, I would ask. What code are 2×4 studs under? Where on the Sales Floor will I find this and that and the other stuff on this Customer’s list?

I would look each up and/or run to this or that corner of the store as he patiently answered my questions – as he had done for dozens and dozens of rookie Sales Clerks like me for years and years before I showed up to distract him from his customers.

Al was my mentor, my coach.

Many, but not all jobs have such. When they do, some learning can be Formal before that Informal Learning mechanism kicks in.

No Albert in Sight 

In the US Navy my General Quarters station (you might call it Battle Station as you would be right) was one deck under the flight deck where I manned the communications equipment to inform CIC (Combat Information Central) what my Repair Party was doing – or to pass instructions to them. You know, the ship has taken on a hit to the flight deck and my Repair Party is off, partying, doing whatever Repair Parties do in the heat of the battle. There was no training for this, my role (huh!?! you might wonder). Yeah, me too.

I also manned the device that monitored the radioactivity where I sat. You know, to radio the readings off to CIC so someone else could calculate how much longer my Repair Party and me, had left to live, before they (in CIC) would need to send replacements. The battle goes on. No training, Formal or Informal for that role either. Again, yes, huh!?!

It is what it is – or rather – it was what it was.

So I talked to other sailors in my role, those handling communications for other repair parties, as to how to do this or that. I was especially interested in the device that measured the “roentgens.”

Today, just now, I searched online for some answers to my questions from back in the day. Lot’s of Results popped up. Too many to be of help in the moment of need.

You see – we would be pretty damn busy in the heat of the battle – in the moment of need – which is why we “practiced a lot” before the moment of need. Every time General Quarters was sounded – which on a ship with 3000 souls, made a pretty distinctive sound. One that could not be missed, and could wake a sailor from the dead – of sleep – no matter what his state of sobriety had been when retiring for the night.

What Wikipedia tells me about Roentgens is this:

The roentgen (R, also röntgen) is an obsolete unit of measurement for the kerma of X-rays and gamma rays up to 3 MeV. The unit is still used in the United States Navy nuclear propulsion program.

Hopefully that measure was not obsolete back in 1972-1975 – when it was an important measure for me and my crew mates.

But I digress.

Informal Learning – Unstructured OJT

Informal Learning – what I had labeled Un-Structured OJT back in the mid 1980s – is feasible at times. At other times, not so much. The same with Social Learning.

Sometimes they are the best approaches to lot’s of the Learning Requirements – and sometimes they are just not ideal or practical.

It depends on the Contexts of the Performance – and the Context of Learning.

It is not a good idea – IMO – to default to them or to over-generalize their applicability.

As always it depends.

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