Not Every Non-Knowledge/Skills Cause for Gaps Can Be Addressed

So Then – What Have Ya Got?

I’ve reviewed the Analysis data in my Instructional Systems Design and Instructional Design efforts with my clients – over 250 times over the past 43 years – usually with a Project Steering Team composed of the Client and key Stakeholders – and in truth – most of the time the Gaps from Ideal/Desired Performance – are not due to a Knowledge/Skill Deficit.

Sample of Performance Model Charts – 2003 Norfolk Naval Shipyard – Production – Curriculum Architecture Design Project

One might think that the Project Steering Team might immediately jump on those dEs – deficiencies in the Environmental Supports (inclusive of Process issues too – until more recently – when I broke that out separately) that are necessary for Ideal (or Desired/Aspirational) levels of Performance.

Either we hope to get a majority of the non-Master Performers closer to the levels of Performance Competence exhibited by the current state Master Performers, and what they have proven is achievable, to close the Gap – or we want to raise the bar on everyone and find ways to get a majority to those new stretch-goals/aspirational-levels of Performance in an “Appreciative Inquiry” sort-of approach to closing the Gap.

But what I discovered long ago, as voiced by the client and/or Project Steering Team members at the Phase 2 – Analysis Gate Review Meeting – was that they often didn’t have the authority, or the time and resources to fix all of the really difficult root causes that we may have pointed to – with our “Typical Performance Gaps” data – and our “Probable Cause” data.

We then – as you can see in the examples above and below – code each “Probable Cause” with the type of deficiency it is. These were the 3 (I have updated this since 2003) used back in this project:

  • dE- deficiency in the Environment
  • dK- deficiency in the Knowledge/Skills
  • dI- deficiency in the Individual Attributes and Values

Handwritten PM chart

Cleaned-up PM Charts

That’s when I remind the Project Steering Team of what I had told them in our Phase 1 – Project Planning & Kick-Off Project Steering Team Gate Review Meeting – that we would leverage what the Master Performers know in terms of them avoiding Performance Barriers in the 1st place, and how to recover quickly with the least damage if the Performance Barriers were unavoidable in the 2nd place.

The goal is to get the target audience to the highest levels of Mastery – by determining “how” the current state Master Performers do it. Which is extremely tricky as up to 70% of what they know is non-conscious – and they can’t provide it to you as they automated that knowledge.

Which is why I always prefer to work with Analysis Teams (and Design Teams, and Development Teams too) of Master Performers and Other Subject Matter Experts – as they often correct, tweak, add-to, the thinking and contributions of others in the Analysis Process that I employee using my Facilitated Group Process.

And they do it so quickly – in one meeting where differences in language and approaches get quickly “ironed out” versus doing successive meeting trying to negotiate revisions in endless cycles.

I wrote about that – one of my most early experiences – here:

Teaming for T&D GWW 1999 – 5 page PDF – on my story of inadvertently creating a team – out of frustration with too many revision cycles for a video script I was writing –  for training development back in 1979 – and liking the approach for using a Group Process to shorten cycle times and improve the quality of the output.


And sometimes I ask for Supervisors and Managers and even Novice Performers to be included on the Analysis Teams (and then the Design & Development Teams that follow).

It’s a standard component of almost all of my books – going back to 1994’s The Quality Roadmap. And is included in my books from 2020 and 2021 – and the first book from 2022.

And it – the Facilitated Group Process – and using Master Performers, etc., was addressed in these two 1984 articles…

Performance-Based Curriculum Architecture Design via a Facilitated Group Process – 6 page PDF– published in Training Magazine in September 1984. –This was the first publication about Curriculum Architecture Design. Plus – the original manuscript (30 pages) – How to Build a Training Structure That Won’t Keep Burning Down.

Models and Matrices – 5 page PDF, published in NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984 – This was the first publication of the Performance and Enabler Analysis methods for ISD using a Facilitated Group Process that I have been using since 1979 and as an ISD consultant starting in 1982.

My Accelerated Approach

The key to going fast in Analysis – in a meeting that 1-4 days in length – and capturing extremely valuable data for both Instructional and non-Instructional efforts – is using the handpicked Analysis Team members selected by the Project Steering Teams.

That leads to better performance-based Instruction (Job Aids and/or Training) and to a Pivot from Instruction to Performance Improvement – when the Project Steering Team has the authority, time, and resources to address the non-K/S root causes for Performance Gaps.

Or they decide to leverage the KNOWN Practices of their current state Master Performers and go for performance improvement that way.

See all of my books on my Amazon Authors Page:


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