L&D: Enabling Timely Informal Learning

The Experts’ Needs Are Different Than the Novice Performers’ Needs

Experts need less Formal Learning – by and large – than the Novice Performers.

Informal Learning will happen all of the time for both – but the expert will learn differently – separating the wheat from the chaff – so to speak. Whereas the Novice can’t tell Foo Foo from Shinola – so to speak.

The same is true in the L&D profession. How many believe the Learning Styles Foo Foo?


Whadda I Need?

Is unique to each Novice Performer – based on their incoming Knowledge/Skills – based on their Education and Experiences. But it is merely all or a subset of the total set of awareness, knowledge and skills required to Perform.


And so it also varies based on the assignment variances from job to job – even with the same Job Title – as Job Titles are a  convenience for HR (pay systems, etc.) and don’t reflect the similarity – or not – of the actual assignments in the real world.

But you probably already knew that.


Whadda Ya Know?

If you start a Sales job thinking that asking Open Questions is the key to success and Closed Questions are bad …

Well, that’s wrong – as the research by Neil Rackham – of “SPIN Selling” fame – and his associates proved … waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the 1970s.



Avoiding the Invalid

So if you’ve heard – as I had many, many times before I met and worked with Neil – that asking only Open Questions was the only route to Sales success – or you heard it as you took that first or next Sales job – you wouldn’t know to reject that notion and what to replace it with.

Here is that book – click on it to read more at Amazon…


Unless someone warned you and proved it – or attempted to prove it – as sometimes (many times) we cling to what we know and reject anything that contradicts anything that suggests that we are wrong. Unless someone “heads that invalid content off at the pass” so to speak.


Where Are the Valid Resources?

And even if I kinda believed that what I knew was wrong – or was suspicious about my new learnings – where do I go to confirm or deny those new things?

On the Internet?

(Excuse me while I LAUGH OUT LOUD).



Figure Out What Is Needed and Provide It 

Head ’em off at the pass – by doing Performance Analysis – which includes learning what the Outputs & measure are – what the Tasks and measures are – who does what – and what are the typical barriers that one might face and how to avoid and what to do if unavoidable.


Then you can systematically derive the enabling Knowledge/Skills – those that enable Performance Competence.

Here is a link to something that might help you with doing that kind of analysis:

Modeling Mastery Performance and Systematically Deriving the Enablers for Performance Improvement – by Guy W. Wallace, CPT – Chapter 11 of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology – 3rd Edition – 2006.

Note: this methodology was first published in this 1984 article in ISPI’s (then NSPI’s) PIJ in November 1984. Back in the day.

Warnings on What to Avoid Would Be More Than Nice, Too

Like warnings about the myth regarding designing instruction for Learning Style Preferences would be in my profession. For something on that – Learning Styles Foo Foo – please go here.


Recognize and Reward the People Resources

Find the Barriers to the People Resources – and get Management to REMOVE THEM.

And more importantly – create Recognition & Reward Systems to encourage the right people to act as Coaches, Mentors, Trail Guides, etc., etc.


Provide the Formal – Foundational Learning

Create a Learning By Design versus a Learning By Chance approach for your most critical performers.

Top management will know who they are – but might not be thinking about WHO enables or prohibits the achievement of their Business Strategy & Plan.

Prompt their thinking and engage them for the long haul.


Clients had determined that the current Informal Learning approach to learning their critical jobs just wasn’t cutting it.

I’ve worked on 75 projects to develop T&D Paths (a.k.a.: Learning Paths) since 1982. The front end of the Path – the OnBoarding portion orients people to the Enterprise, business, function, job, other jobs involved with the learner’s job, and provides the Immediate Survival Skills needed.

Then on to OnGoing Learning – including Spaced Learning – in case the job itself doesn’t do that adequately.

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Enable timely Informal Learning by supporting better Formal Learning on the front end.

Another recent Post about this – here.

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