T&D: All Learning Starts As Informal Learning

It’s Only When That Is Unacceptable Should It Become Formal Learning

Not the other way around.

And Informal Learning – a sink or swim method IMO – is very acceptable in many cases – where the risks and rewards are not High Stakes. And for many jobs that’s most of the job.

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As an external consultant since 1982, I can say that all of my projects were funded by my clients when they found the Current State unacceptable. When they saw that an improvement in developing Performance Competence – better, faster, cheaper would move their metrics’ needles in a positive direction.

My last few projects were exactly because the Status Quo of the As Is State for High Stakes Performers – were simply not acceptable. They were for Sales Representatives, and for Pharma Production staff, and for managers of hundreds of branch offices across North America. All critical performers in High Stakes performance.

Nothing was done for any low hanging fruit in each of those jobs. Only the really High Stakes performance for each of those three jobs was to be addressed with Formal Learning. The rest, for each of those three jobs, was left to Informal Learning.


Formal Learning is better than Informal Learning when it leads to higher productivity for High Stakes Performance.

An example would be where claims processors make less mistakes resulting in less rework. Another example would be where customer satisfaction scores go higher and return business improves due to the competence of the customer facing staff.


Formal Learning is faster than Informal Learning when it speeds the learner/Performers to an acceptable level of Performance Competence more quickly.

An example would be where a technician is qualified to work solo on high stakes equipment much sooner than an Informal Learning route would take. Another example would be where productivity increases due to the confidence and knowledge and skills of well trained staff.


Formal Learning is cheaper than Informal Learning when there is less expensive rework of High Stakes Performance.

An example would be where an auto technician’s work doesn’t incur more warranty costs and lost business due to poor workmanship. Another example would be where the number of cases reviewed and processed by Quality Control increases with even better quality post Training.

Not All Performance Warrants Formal Learning vs Informal Learning

Just the High Stakes stuff. Your Analysis Methods should make that clear to you and confirms what your clients and stakeholders probably already know about the Current State.

Perf Req Analysis - Much More Than Task Analysis

It’s one thing for New Hire Training.

It’s another thing for Performance Improvement Training efforts. They just might not be totally aware of where Training alone might not address their targeted issues’ root causes.


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