Is L&D on THAT Tobacco Road? Blow It Up, Tear It Down, Start All Over Again?

Tobacco Road

From Wikipedia

Tobacco Road” is a song written and first recorded by John D. Loudermilk in 1960 that was a hit for The Nashville Teens in 1964 and has since become a standard across several musical genres.

I remember this myself from the version by The Animals, circa mid-1960.

“… blow it all up, tear it down, start all over again …”

Read more: The Animals – Tobacco Road Lyrics | MetroLyrics

blog 1

In L&D Too?

Some call for this. The “blow it up, tear it down, start all over again” refrain for L&D.

I’ve been hearing it/reading it for 35 years myself.

It goes back longer than that – and more on that in a minute.

But is it necessary to completely destroy what we have – as if everyone in L&D had the same Performance Context – they don’t – rather than fix things along the way?

Do what is called in the Quality world as Dis-Continuous Improvement versus Continuous Improvement?

Can Continuous Improvement (CI) not be enough to “get there” some target destination that is other than where we are right now?

Yes – why not Continuous Improvement versus Dis-Continuous Improvement?

Well, as always – it depends.

01-LiMl 66155-Lessons_in_Maki-sfull

How bad is it?

If not too bad – then I suggest starting with CI, and not DI.

Regardless of Your Targeted Metrics

I’m not a fan of Training/Learning/Knowledge Management goals such as 80-20, 70-20-10, 50-50 – because they are so general as to have no meaning – IMO.

Who specifically do they speak to?

They seem to suggest that L&D is trying to do too much – and should back down to only 10% of what a learner requires to be addressed via Formal Learning. The rest – IMO – is left more to chance via

But – all Learning started as Informal. The decision to make it more than that – into the 20% or the 10% – is a business decision that too often – IMO – is left to those in L&D – who could not (typically) understand the nuances of the Performance Requirements, Processes, all of the enablers necessary including Performer awarenesses, knowledges and skills.

Your goal IMO should be to help your internal/external/channel partners “Achieve Rewards” such as increase revenue, win contracts, improve capability and capacity -situation depending.

Your goals also include IMO helping your internal/external/channel partners “Avoiding Risks” and if they are unavoidable – helping with the pro-active contingency plans – for those really big Risks.

Who decides which Rewards to pursue and which Risks to proactively avoid or deal with?

Back to that in a minutes, right after addressing the earlier comment that “It goes back longer than…” – the drum beat for “low it up, tear it down, start all over again.”

Same as it ever was.

Road to Performance

Rummler said it/ wrote it in 1967 – here – is my post on that. Her is a graphic from that post…

Targeting is critical. Having proven Processes is a must. People’s Performance Competence at Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management is too.

I believe I have both – and that yes, others do as well.

Here are some of mine.

Road to Performance Resources

Besides my audio podcasts (over 20), video podcasts (over 190), hundreds of book chapters, articles, and thousands of blog posts – here is something that might be of interest – for a fee and for free…

6 Pack – For a Fee

PACT 6 Pack

Older Versions – For Free

The 6-Pack above is an update and combination of the following 3 books ….

3 Books Available as Free PDFs and Paperbacks


… plus this book from 1994 …

1994 QRM Book Cover


Again, I have Resources on this – as do others.



Where to Start for CI?

IMO: Targeting.

With a more-formal-than-not Governance & Advisory System.

Example only…

L and D - Formal Goverance and Advisory Structure Example


It’s THE MOST CRITICAL COMPONENT of your overall L&D System… which is somewhat complex as a system. Here is my model for that complexity – to make it more simple.


At the top of the clock – so to speak … is where that sub-system should sit. IMO.


Then – after getting agreement on the Targets – you can further assess your Capability – and Capacity – to address those targets successfully.

And then address any gaps there as you launch into the real top priorities of your Enterprise.

Work – collaborate – with all of your Customers and other Stakeholders – for success.

Best wishes for that success in 2015!

# # #

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.