L&D: Two Paths to Performance Improvement When Starting from ISD

I felt bad for the client who came to me at the end of the Project Steering Team’s Gate Review Meeting at the end of the Analysis Phase.

He had to tell me that my big project was to be suspended.

It was a decision I had facilitated when I told the PST that I was going to head down to the cafeteria for a short break while they decided what to do next – after I had walked them through the Analysis data on the Performance Model charts projected to their big screen at the end of the horseshoe arrangement of seating for this project’s client and key stakeholders. I almost never take a break and leave the room in the middle of a PST Gate Review Meeting.

But this time was different.

I knew they needed to stop the ISD effort to quickly spin up several “Tiger Teams” – as they called them in their culture – to address all of the dEs – as I label the Probable Causes for Current State Gaps captured on the right side of the Performance Model charts. The left side captured the Ideal State performance Outputs/Measures and Key Tasks.


The 12 Boxes of Enterprise Process Performance Improvement 


If the Probable Cause isn’t a dK – a deficiency in Knowledge/Skill – it’s sometimes a dI – deficiency of Individual Attributes (a rare but possible cause) – but most likely it’s a dE – deficiency in Environment. One or more of those 6 variables at the bottom of the Fishbone diagram above – and/or the Process.

Yes – including The Process itself (#1) – if you were counting variables in the graphic and only came up with 11. The Process is a special part of the Environment that humans walk into.

Joe Harless taught me – and many others – back in the mid-1980s at NSPI (now ISPI) to always say yes to a client request for ISD (Training) – and to – request/require doing a little Analysis on the front end – to – in my terms: let the analysis data chips fall where they may.

Here is my past post (from 2012) on Joe’s teaching me and others that lesson – here.


I had designed my ISD and PI methods (PACT and EPPI respectively) – beginning in 1982 when I became a consultant and had to lead teams on client work – to be interchangeable – in language and models and methods and tools and techniques) and to more easily enable those who mastered PACT to have an easy jump to EPPI. And to be consistent.

So when my Training Director client approached me in the cafeteria to tell me that the PST’s decision was to suspend the ISD effort (a Curriculum Architecture Design effort) – I jumped up and said, “Great!”

It was the right decision.

The Current State was so Screwed Up (a Technical Term) that doing the Training stuff in parallel would require massive amount of rework to any training – because it was obvious to me that the Processes themselves would need to be redesigned and that would lead to different Tasks and Enabling K/Ss – plus a boatload of new Environmental fixes.

It was a “Long Row to Hoe” – as they say.

There were other projects in my consulting life where the ISD efforts and PI efforts might be done more or less in parallel – as everyone is typically in a hurry – and any REWORK would be minimal.

And there have been other times when the ISD effort needed to lag one Phase (or more) behind the PI effort – as everyone was still in a hurry – but the amount of redesign suggested that it would be better – to avoid REWORK CITY of Instructional Content.

But this time – the whole ISD effort should be “put on hold” – and the entire set of Processes and “Infrastructure” – another name for all of the non-people stuff – the Environmental Assets – should be more or less put in place – before beginning the ISD track.

Life is like that.

Oh. I did get asked to participate when the time for ISD was right for this client. I did the CAD effort and their team did the MCD end (the ADDIE-like efforts post-CAD).

Life is like that.

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