Things That New-to-the-Job Target Audiences Simply Don’t Know

THAT Never Happens?

I cannot tell you how many times I witnessed – in Pilot Test sessions I facilitated or observed – where in the mix of the attendees I saw those brand new to the job folks declare that what they were learning wasn’t real/authentic/etc. – only to have the Master Performers in the mix of attendees jump up and start reeling off war stories from “last week” reflecting what the newbies thought wasn’t real.

It’s even happened to people with a year or two of experience. That happened way back in October of 1987 in the Pilot Test run of an 8-day ILT course for AT&T Network Systems Product Managers. One person from one of 5 Business Units of AT&T-NS was in a job with a narrow focus compared to the range of responsibilities across that Job Title of the 900 growing-to-1100 people with that Job Title.

The Big Picture Often Isn’t Understood

Her job focused on one slice/component of 1 of the 8 Functional Areas – Sales Support – of the entire Product Manager set-of-responsibilities represented in the model on the right in the graphic below.

Her job was focused on documentation of Sales Support materials and the training for the Sales People of AT&T Network System – which was only one of the audiences in Sales Support – as there were Sales Back Office people, Sales Engineers, Sales Management at several levels, and others. But she didn’t know that. Her focus was narrow.

She actually became so frustrated and disruptive – that my client had her manager call her back to her office – so that she wouldn’t continue to disrupt the other 19 people. Some of those other people had broad responsibilities – all of the PM Model on hundreds of Products – and others had several parts of the model for one or just a few Products.

My client organization – AT&T Network Systems – managed 500,000 products – with 800 people – which was intending to grow several hundred to 1100 fairly quickly – part of the impetus for our project.

A post from 2012 on this – including our submission of this effort to NSPI (now ISPI) for an Award in 1989 – is here.

They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

Not just “sometimes” – but – “most-of-the-time.”

Most Learners (not all) start off as Unconsciously Incompetent.

Even time-in-the-job is no guarantee that they understand the job at The Big Picture level.

Here is a model that I was first shown in 1979 – but didn’t know the proper attribution until more recently.

Management trainer Martin M. Broadwell described “the four levels of teaching” model in February 1969 (Wikipedia). Later it became known as the ‘four stages of competence’ model (originally ‘the Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill’ (Burch, 1970).

They May Not Know What They Need To Know

One of the things that came out of the pilot session in 1987 – and was used in the 31 deliveries that followed – that I facilitated – was the use of a giant poster and Matrix – used as the opening activity – was a quick overview of the PM Model and then each of the 20 Participants would go up to the front and mark which of the Functional Areas (that I originally would have called Areas of Performance – or Accomplishments (per Gilbert)).

That was followed by each person – in their self-introductions – where they were asked to include their current focus on what they did related to their 8 PM Functional responsibilities with their Product Assignments. You can see the mix below – for the 16 people in a delivery in The Netherlands in 1991. The graphic is snagged from a 1991 video.

That was my 2-part Ice Breaker activity – that happened about 15-20 minutes into the session – after I did some “stage setting.”

Here, in this video – shot in The Netherlands in 1991 – the participants prepare for the final presentation (their 5th) of their draft Product Plan – with the Critical Financials – and most importantly – what they thought they needed to do to make any improvements to the projected Financials – as the goal was not to game the numbers – but to calculate/project them – and then decide – as a multi-functional Product Team – what needed to be done to make improvements.

I’ve posted many times on this overall effort I (and my business partners and our staff) did for for AT&T Network Systems Product Management – which included a series of a dozen or so projects between 1986 and 1994. Search using ” AT&T Network Systems Product Management” to find some and “NS 1251” to find others.


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