L&D: Best Practice: Facilitated Group Processes for a Top-Down Design of a L&D Path of Menus of Micro & Macro Learning Products/Services

This 4 Part Blog Post Is the Tip of the Iceberg

So to speak.

But … I offer many free Resources (articles, presentations, audios, videos and books) – and a few Resources for a Fee (books and consulting services) – on all of this. Below the waterline – so to speak.

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The 4-Parts of this Post Address…

1) Facilitated Group Process – I started doing this in 1979 and co-authored 2 articles in 1984 about using the FGP in Analysis and Design  of a L&D/T&D Path. I got Analysis for complex, whole jobs, down from 3 weeks or 3 months down to 3 days – touch time and cycle time. Sometime it might take 5 days. Same with Design, as I could design a L&D Path – and get it right the first time to avoid ReWork – in 3 days, most of the time. Sometimes it might take 5 days.

More on why it might take longer, later.

2) Top-Down Design – Most people think of Top-Down design as bad. As disconnected from reality at the bottom – where the rubber meets the road – so to speak. But when Top-Down is done by a group of facilitated Master Performers it is vastly superior to a Bottoms-Up approach done by L&D professionals with or without Master Performers at their side.. I always disliked the incongruence of Instructional One-Offs – where all the Micro (shorter) and Macro (longer) sets of Content didn’t add up – as they were collectively most-often gapped and overlapped and generally inconsistent in language, labels, models, etc. Damn confusing for most new learners trying to become valued Performers.

More on this later.

3) L&D Path of Menus – In my experience, having done 75 Curriculum Architecture Design efforts – producing over 125 Paths of Instructional and Informational Content since 1982 – most Paths are not lock-step linear (although some are) – as most are more of a series of menus – which allows accommodating the variances of: A) the unique/specific job task assignments, and B) the incoming knowledge and skills of the Learner based on their prior education and experience.

More on this later, too.

4) Micro & Macro Learning Products/Services – Shorter sets of Content make a lot of sense – some of the time. Sometimes it takes a longer set of Content – because the Tasks and their enabling Topics just take longer – and the inefficiencies of artificially breaking the content up for delivery/deployment/access – an artificial “One Minute Manager approach” – require numerous start and stops, necessitating numerous “now, where were we again?” refreshers/reminders. In my approach L&D products/services are modular books with modular chapters – sized to get the job done of providing the INFOs and DEMOs and APPOs (Application Exercises) for 1st Learning and Spaced Reminder Learnings & Practices with Feedback.

More on this later as well.

Facilitated Group Processes

1) Facilitated Group Process – FGP – I started doing this in 1979 (link to a Past Post about that experience) and co-authored 2 articles in 1984 about using the “FGP” in Analysis (link) – and Design (link) of a L&D/T&D Path.

The approach hasn’t really changed much since 1984 – other than the formats for capturing and reporting the results – which are both the same – as I wanted those who created the outputs to not have to work overtime trying to confirm/find what they generated after the damn consultants changed it all around. I’d been there and had that done to me – so I avoided it in my own methods.

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I got Analysis for complex, whole jobs – down from 3 weeks or 3 months that seemed typical in the late 1970s and early 1980s (and today too for too many IMO) – down to 3 days – touch time and cycle time. The trade off is getting everyone together in a room. Everyone meaning the right people – to do the right things at the right time, too.

Sometime it might take 5 days. Or 4. That might be necessary – versus the 3 days – if the job to be analyzed (and a Path designed for it) – is controversial and/or new to the organization and/or the Master Performers are doing their thing – at a level of perceived Mastery – differently. Or their are language and cultural differences in the group to be assembled. Or if everyone is extremely introverted.

Same with Design, as I could design a L&D Path – and get it right the first time to avoid ReWork – in 3 days, most of the time. Sometimes it might take 5 days. Or 4. For the same reasons as expressed above.

Make no mistake about it – facilitating a group of Master Performers isn’t for the timid or feint of heart. It’s “tough sledding” as some might say. They are rightly suspicious of us ISD/Corporate types – and they’ve had more of their time wasted by Corporate Programs and Training folks than you can imagine. And they’ll be happy to tell you all about it. Listen and Learn.

I offer 12 guidelines (rules) for facilitation based on my hundreds of experiences in doing so – here. Note: it’s a Past Post linked to 12 posts that dive into some of the details and nuances.

Top-Down Design

2) Top-Down Design – Most people think of Top-Down design as bad. As, disconnected from the reality at the bottom – where the rubber meets the road – so to speak.

People too far removed from the real world sitting up-on-high and pontificating some “as is” and/or “should be” model. I get it. I’ve seen the work done by those going that route.

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But when Top-Down is done by a group of facilitated Master Performers from the real world – it – Top-Down – is vastly superior to a Bottoms-Up approach done by L&D professionals with or without Master Performers at their side.

I have always disliked the incongruence of Instructional One-Offs – where all the Micro (shorter) and Macro (longer) sets of Content didn’t add up – as they were collectively most-often gapped and overlapped and generally inconsistent in language, labels, models, etc.

Damn confusing for most new learners trying to become valued Performers. A Disservice – so to speak. Part of the sins of our collective past.

If you think content can be sequenced poorly or correctly and have a big impact on the speed and effectiveness of learning how to perform … and/or … if you believe that Spaced Learning is often extremely important – reminders/refreshers of things not reinforced well enough by the job itself – to fend off the Forgetting Curve – then you’ll address that better with a Top-Down approach to the design of a Path – given those tough-as-nails Master Performers you facilitate to do this.

They do the sequencing as they would know the nuances better than you of what should be taught/learned fist, second, third, etc. They decide what and when and how often to remind learners climbing the Learning Curve – and what doesn’t need any Spaced Learning at all. Or what might need it – but not in every case. And what is needed to be known but isn’t worthy of addressing formally – as in the 10 in the flipped 10-20-70 Reference Model.

They know what can be left to what I call Unstructured OJT where they’ll learn it by hook or crook out on the job. It might be Mickey Mouse – so to speak – and you just don’t “get it” because you’re not from their real world. How could you? Unless you came to L&D from that world – and recently.

L&D Paths of Menus

3) L&D Path of Menus – In my experience, having done 75 Curr Arch Design efforts producing over 125 Paths of Instructional and Informational Content since 1982, that most Paths are not lock-step linear (although some are).

Slide4

Most L&D Paths (T&D Paths or Roadmaps or Guides or…) are more of a series of mini-menus – which allows accommodating the variances of:

A) the job task assignments, which might vary mightily from person to person – as job titles are for the convenience of HR and paying people than true descriptors of the job’s Performance Competency Requirements.

B) the incoming knowledge and skills of the Learner based on their prior education and experience. If some in the Target Audience are degreed Electrical Engineers then AC/DC Electrical Theory should be an option and not a requirement – with or without some Pre-Test.

T&D/L&D Paths are intended – IMO – to provide guidance (most of the time) and to allow a down-select using some method for creating an IDP – Individual Development Plan – which takes the offerings from the Path – as needed per the assignment and incoming K/Ss – and sequences them and times their targeted completion – with the help of the Supervisor or Peer.

The Path might have “Services” versus Products – including Coached or Mentored offerings (as needed). The “20” so to speak. Or “guided discovery learning” for some of the “70” so to speak – so that that 70 is not so “hit-and-miss” … less of a Learning By Chance approach. Perhaps ultimately effective – but terribly inefficient … and a potential waste of Shareholder Equity in my view.

If the sequence and clustering of the offerings are determined by the facilitated Master Performers into mini-menus then you’ll be closer to what is really needed back at the ranch (so to speak).

The first set of content in the Paths that I design (with help/guidance and approval of the Master Performers of course) is the Onboarding Welcome to the Company, Function, Processes and your Job PLUS the Immediate Survival Skills needed immediately. As “you know who” deems to be needed immediately … if not sooner. As long as necessary and as short as possible.

Micro & Macro Learning

4) Micro & Macro Learning Products/Services – Shorter sets of Content make a lot of sense – some of the time.

But sometimes it simply takes a longer set of Content – because the Tasks and their enabling Topics just take longer.

Slide5

And the inefficiencies of artificially breaking the content up for delivery/ deployment/ access – an artificial “One Minute Manager approach” – require numerous (read: too many) start and stops, necessitating numerous “now where were we again?” refreshers/reminders.

It’s as bad as the “every module is 2 hours in length” nonsense I’ve seen since the advent of Elearning. Before that – I never saw the 2 hour standard.

In one Curriculum Architecture Design effort we found 29 two-hour modules on “Active Listening” in the client’s inventory of content. 29. Twenty Nine.

Imagine taking the chapters of a murder mystery and stopping every few sentences and restarting the next day with “let’s revisit what’s been happening so far” again, and again, and again before getting on to the new sentences/content.

Let the chapter play out to get to a point of closure before a transition to the next chapter.

In my approach L&D products/services on a Path are akin to “modular books” (Events)  with modular chapters (Lessons) – sized “just right” Goldilocks, to get the job done of providing the minimum INFOs and DEMOs (“IF” necessary”) and APPOs (Application Exercises) for 1st Learning and Spaced Reminder Learnings & Practices with Feedback – to develop Performance Competence: the ability to Perform Tasks … to Produce Outputs … to Stakeholder Requirements. 

Resources

Need/want to dive below the waterline further?

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