Lesson Mapping – Conceptually & Physically

For Bringing Some Level of Structure to Learning

In most cases in Enterprise Learning, for the Learners … I prefer the term: Performers … the learning situation is totally informal for most of their jobs.

Their organization might offer them some awareness, knowledge or even skills training, but even its authenticity is most often an issue. The examples and exercises aren’t really reflections of the learner/Performers’ job tasks and outputs. Perhaps someone elses. Perhaps really no one’s. Over generalized. Generic.

Learning/Training with “face validity” by title/label – but not true “performance validity” in the content’s specific ABILITY to affect Performance, IMO. And in my experiences. Most of the time.

Such as “Communications Skills” – good for every context and situation within all those contexts – authentic enough? “Presentations Skills” – needed by many – but the nuanced differences required in different contexts – and/or initial reactions – the real skill required – may not be covered in this class.

If the Learning is not authentic for anyone … transfer at best will be 5-15%.

Enough of a return for the investments?

And that was for Formal.

Informal is worse.

Both are fixable:

Get authentic and provide a little structure. 

This post is about my downstream design frame of mind – a conceptual and physical framework – for what I need to get when doing the upstream Performance Analysis.

The Lesson Map. For any mode or media blend … or single set.


And this post is to extend my critique of what the 70:20:10 Reference Model is missing – with some of my proven approaches in bringing some of the structure needed – to the totally informal learning of the current state – when that isn’t cutting it. Because sometimes it does.

Note: not everything one needs to learn how to do in one’s job is even worth structuring – creating some minimalistic “Guided Informal Learning” stuff … as not everything is worth even that minimal level of effort … that potential Learning content is what I have been categorizing as Unstructured OJT … since the 1980s. It’s just not worth it … needed as it truly is … from an ROI standpoint.

Sometimes it is well worth it – to the shareholders’ and their invested equity – to just live with any inefficiency and ineffectiveness that is of little consequence.

Because not everything is of equal value in the first place – and so – much can be left to “by hook or crook” – so to speak. And still be responsible from a management fiduciary responsibility perspective. The final criterion IMO.

But I digress.

I most often do this kind of design work – with groups of Master Performers, but I don’t get that luxury all of the time.

Sometimes I have to do design after a series of Interviews and Observations. Sometimes this is initially mapped out on the client’s whiteboard in the very first meeting. More on that – later.

As if … they could articulate it all. As if … I could capture it all. Ha! But with Master Performers and the right process … mo better. Much mo better. Much much mo better.

Anyway … these are my 7 steps in thinking about a potential lesson downstream … on THIS … or a lesson on THAT … or  lesson on THE OTHER THING … upstream in my first meetings with the client and then when doing analysis and of course when finally doing the design.

I always see the APPOs first. Even the series of APPOs at times, with various real-world monkey wrenches that would be thrown in – to “mess with” the APPO participants – to better prepare them for the real world’s monkey wrenches … er … situational variables.

Adapt these 7 steps and language as necessary for your real world.

Adopt what you can … and Adapt the rest.

Here is a PDF of most of the following slides/graphics … plus some: Lesson Mapping Conceptual and Process Flow Model – the source for this post.

Note: this “process” is simply backward chaining … for one chunk of Instruction … one Instructional Activity … for engagement with authenticity at its core. No phony baloney engagement tactics. Not necessary if Learning is with truly authentic content and is indeed understood to be authentic by the learner/Performer – as sometimes they are so green that they just don’t really know.

And … unless the learner/Performer just ain’t motivated in the first place – authentic content is engaging enough.

Not that you can’t make it dry and lifeless … and BORING. You can. So – watch out.


Looking for the Performance Competence Requirements – as defined in the next graphic – is my first objective – regardless of my terminal objective. Learning or working on some other variable. Data. Or the recruiting & selection system in place. I’m open to all the possibilities … and someone is asking for help. And I know that they would agree that ultimately what they want and need and desire … is Performance Competence.

Without that – that insight into first the Performance Competence Requirements – and then any Gaps – all of this is a waste of time exercise IMO. And in my experiences.

Which is why I sometimes take the client through this exercise despite their probable inability to answer (typically – not always) and fill out my Lesson Map at the detailed level. But it was/is good for them to see what we need. We.

And no mouse in my pocket – so to speak – kemosabe. We.


The Framework – above and below. Adapt as necessary.


Copy and Paste – for sooner – or later.


1- What?

What’s It All About, Alfie?

Do this mentally if you don’t wish to write it down. Because if you don’t know where you are going – anything will do – and all of the following steps are inappropriate and a waste of your and my time.

Go forth and do: whatever, whenever, however.

In any order.

Otherwise, define the what – somehow.


2- Define Your Objective or Objectives

Formally, 3-part behavioral, or otherwise. First pass/draft. Refine later. If needed.


3- What Would You Like to Learn “How To Do”?

This ties to the prior step. Do it again, please, at a deeper level.

Think about the tasks and outputs … beginning perhaps with the outputs (but not always) and the Stakeholder Requirements – of Processes and/or Products. At a little more detailed level.

Is this APPO … real work, old real work that someone has already done for real? Or is it a simulation of various levels of authenticity – from real authentic to mickey mouse to what!?! – because of who will be playing in the simulations – and they don’t know enough to keep it from becoming ridiculously unreal – through no fault of their own.


And of course, maybe more than 1 application will be required. To incrementally build a valuable skill.

For sure. For most things – performance-wise – worth addressing in the first place – will require more than one pass at applying.


Note: not every lesson has to have an APPO. Or the next item a DEMO. Sometimes a string of INFO type lessons lead to an APPO. And sometimes strings of INFO-DEMOs lead to a big or a series of APPOs.

I always try to facilitate a group of Master Performers into all of those decisions. But again, I don’t always get that luxury. So I flex my desired approach … and get real.

4- (Optional) Demonstration

Not always required – but when needed – is often very critical for the learner/Performers’ ability to “do it” themselves … later. We are backward chaining still.

The DEMO: Do we need to do this at a normal speed and then again at a slow-motion-speed … to break it down … to avoid cognitive overload?

Steps by Step? Sub-step by Sub-step? Repeat as often as necessary. Watch out for cognitive overload. Perhaps bounce quickly from an INFO to a quick DEMO to a quick APPO. Or – make them each bigger.

BTW: IMO: There is no magic number of seconds or minutes to the length of any Instructional Activity. It needs to be complete – holistic – and not so partial that I can’t see the forest … for the seedlings. I always trust the Master Performers, if I get them, to tell us all when to break… and what to do next. Always. Who else would know better … even if not always right?


5- Information Required

What do you need to know to make sense of the demonstration and to attempt initial application?


Most Likely – More Than 1 Chunk of Information Will Be Required.

And the sequence may or may not be important.


6- Close

How will this be brought to closure and if needed … provide a transition to what’s next in the flow, the incremental build up of awareness, and knowledge and skills?

Is there a final debriefing in the Close as well as in each of the APPOs? I would.


7- Open

So what’s the appropriate Open – given how this set of Instruction fits in any overall flow – including the performance and learning objectives and an overview of the flow of the entire Lesson – formal or not?

Even in taking something that used to be Unstructured OJT – and making it a little more structured or very structured. All that experiential and exposure to the right people and work examples … including the process for producing.


This picture of the flow of content elements – instructional activities – once painted – can be used to design your coached modules, your self paced modules, your group paced modules.


An example…


And another, an earlier example, from 1991, and the first use of this format for capturing a Group Process for designing a Lesson … after that group had participated in the Group Process for Analysis.

1990 Ill Bell Labor Relations Detailed Design Document_Page_078

It Requires a Data Logic – a Performance Data Logic

Here is mine… at the Macro level…

PACT Data Logic

And here – at the Micro level… for one Lesson…


The above is what one needs to consider when addressing the Experiential or Exposure to Boss or Experts … the 70:20 part of the Reference Model 70:20:10. For the learning worth addressing, even minimalistically.

Not everything is worth addressing at all, no?

In my view. Yours may vary.

In an Enterprise context – I believe in Learning for the Sake of the Enterprise – not in Learning for the sake of Learning.

How to Best Do This?

Again, the only way I know how to best put this all together – more right than not the first time – is to collaborate with a group of Master Performers –  and other Subject Matter Experts as needed – and – as handpicked and approved by the key stakeholders. Formally.

Get real.Get politically aligned too.

And respect those Master Performers when they tag content or performance or enabling knowledge as not needed – too mickey mouse – as they are helping you to sort the wheat from the chaff – the good stuff from the could stuff … and just because you could – doesn’t mean you should … as not everything that should be learned needs to be formally taught.

It’s an ROI kinda thing. Important to me because I wish to be a good steward of shareholder equity … and to not be a squander of that equity.

The job will do some of that informal learning – some of the time – well enough – even without the prompt of putting it on a list. They – the Master Performers should know – not perfectly again – but who else would you ask? And if too risky to “just take their consensus word for it” – so to speak – then verify it first – to the extent that the Risks and Rewards might dictate. Be a good steward.

And have the backing of those Master Performers for all of the Learning stuff and the need to perhaps also address any other barriers that could perhaps be reduced or removed – if management challenges what is needed and designed.

As if that could happen, huh? Well … it should.

That good steward thing … at their level.

Ah … the ties that bind.


And measure success using their existing metrics … for your level 4/5 Returns…ROI. They might be interested in level 3 as well. But not 1 and 2. Not sharp business people that is.

You go for that data only if the other two are off and it isn’t a transfer issue – IMO. They know that – if they understood your 4 Levels of Evaluation (or 5).

Here again is the PDF of the 7 steps slides in this post: Lesson Mapping Conceptual and Process Flow Model

In the Beginning

It all begins (typically) as Informal Learning – and most often unnamed.

Then it might get named as an Informal Learning Need – or Social or Experiential … or left untouched … and is what I have called since the 1980s: unstructured OJT.

Needed to be learned – but not worth addressing with Formal Performance Support – including any Training or Learning. That happens. If you can’t afford it all – you prioritize – and get the biggest bang for the buck. So to speak.

Bang is the ultimate business metric at your Enterprise. Find out what that is – or what they are – where you contribute. Really.

But value – risks avoided and/or rewards achieved – are not always static – or black and white – but exist on a continuum of worth and likelihood that changes over time.

How you capture and keep evergreen – in sync – this kind of insight and data – for design – is perhaps your next issue. Tie it all to an overall architecture of process performance. An ECA … if you’d like to search this site for more on that. Make sure it captures what the client articulates – in their language.

Collaborate to Define Perf Comp

Work with your clients in proven collaborative processes – and focus on their Performance Requirements.

And then … enable them.


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