Bring More Authentic Empathy to Your Instructional Development Efforts

With the Right Balance on the Team and with a Facilitated Group Process

This has worked for me since I started doing both back in 1979. The following is an adapted excerpt from a 1984 article published in the NSPI (now ISPI) Journal…

The Group Process in Instructional Development

A group process in the Analysis effort is somewhat similar to a Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is used to achieve consensus.

But, unlike NGT, it forces discussion and achievement of group consensus in less time and without a rigidly prescribed process. The group decides the internal parameters of the process given only a set of guidelines regarding the outputs to be produced. The NGT process requires pre-prepared, specific data-gathering instruments that are completed in isolation by each participant before group discussion. The process we facilitate is more flexible but requires the design of the specific questions to be addressed based on the previous answers obtained.

Although this does not avoid potential dominance by the stronger personalities of the group, it will probably create the political buy-in required to sell the validity of the final outputs. Validation and additional data gathering can be accomplished in later phases of curriculum/course designs, task analysis, and course development.

The group facilitator must possess the skills to manage a dynamic group situation. The group participants should include:

  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Master Performers
  • Management from the target learners/Performers
  • New hires from the target performer group

Each of the above participant groups brings a unique and valuable perspective to the analysis meeting.

  • Subject Matter Experts can tell you almost everything you need to know (and more) about a given topic.
  • Master Performers can temper those ideals with the realities of day-to-day performance.
  • Management can tell you what is important, what performance they really want, how it can be measured, and what they want in the way of training formats, delivery methods and flexibility, maximum lengths, and anything you choose to ask them while you’ve got them.
  • New hires can provide a perspective on what prerequisites should be and can provide input on what things are the easiest and the most difficult to learn.

The group process forces a consensus on what the desired/ideal performance is. This is especially useful for complex work environments with multiple jobs such as design engineering or manufacturing engineering.

Creating this consensus via a group of the right people will create organizational buy-in. This form of needs analysis should be performed at the organizational level to determine where within the organization training emphasis can and should be placed. Starting off down the road of training development with this kind of credibility can lead to greater support for your activities in both the development and implementation phases. The field will have a greater comfort level because you’ve been set off on the right path, and it is one that’s directed at performance first and subject matter second.

The tradeoff made with the group process is in the depth and accuracy of the data, given the typical time constraints. Even a group made up of varied and knowledgeable people can cover limited territory in a two- or three-day meeting. Of course, with more time, this is easily resolved.

Because the organization has probably never put itself down on paper in black and white as this process will, it probably does not have a consensus view of what it looks like and what it does. Each person involved probably looks at the job or organization quite differently. This is the charge of the facilitator—to build a consensus model of the performance in a potentially difficult situation. But once the group has this common reference framework established, the continued analysis of training knowledge and skill requirements becomes easier to do and easier to sell later.

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See the rest of this original 1984 article as a 5 page PDF:

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.

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In the late ’80s I had branded my 3 ISD methods as PACT.

In the early ’90s I started a series of articles in my firm’s quarterly newsletters about the Phases in PACT at the ADDIE level – as opposed to the Curriculum Architecture level.

See this quarterly newsletter article on Analysis from the Spring of 1993 – here.

I prefer to use teams for both Analysis & Design – and if called for – in Development – of performance-based Instruction (Job Aids and/or Training).

I have many books that address performance-based Instructional Analysis – going back to my first solo effort “lean-ISD” (1999), as it is central to both my Instructional methods (PACT) and to my Performance Improvement Consulting methods (EPPI).

4 of my last 5 books addressed – and covered “HOW TO” do a performance-based set of Analysis methods:

  • Conducting performance-based Instructional Analysis
  • The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis
  • performance-based Lesson Mapping
  • Structured Social Learning

See all of my books on my Amazon Authors Page:


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