Groking the Target Audience

Is it Empathy we are searching for? And for what/whose purpose?

Grok is a neologism coined by American writer Robert A. Heinlein for his 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. While the Oxford English Dictionary summarizes the meaning of grok as “to understand intuitively or by empathy, to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment”,[1] Heinlein’s concept is far more nuanced, with critic Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. observing that “the book’s major theme can be seen as an extended definition of the term.”[2] The concept of grok garnered significant critical scrutiny in the years after the book’s initial publication. The term and aspects of the underlying concept have become part of communities such as computer science. Wikipedia

I have 4 types of Analysis that I do in ISD/LXD efforts – and have been doing theses 4 since the early 1980s:

  • Target Audience Analysis
  • Performance Analysis
  • Enabling Knowledge/Skills Analysis
  • Existing Content Assessments for ReUse (Analysis)

In my Target Audience Analysis, I need to define the incoming Target Audience variances – so I know what’s safe to assume about them and what’s not safe to assume about them in terms of what their assignments include or not, what they already know, or not, and where they work and learn, or not.

From my 1999 book: lean-ISD:

Analysis Data feeds the Design Process.

Job Assignments

Not everyone with the same Job Title has the same assignment. I need to know what’s core/common across all of them (if anything) – which is further defined in/after the Performance Analysis. I really get deeper into this insight when working post-Analysis in my Design efforts with a Design Team of Master Performers who will use their deeper insights into all of this as they affect the Design effort’s “modularization” of the content, its sorting and sequencing, and it’s final packaging.

This insight enables the Design Team to more appropriately modularize/configure the Instructional Content (Performance Support & Learning Experiences) so that learners/Performers can easily skip certain content that’s otherwise deemed/thought to be Required (to Know/be capable of demonstrating).

Prior Knowledge

I need to know the variances in what the members of the Target Audience might already know from their education and experiences – which is further defined in/after the Enabling Knowledge/Skills Analysis. I really get deeper into this insight when working post-Analysis in my Design efforts with a Design Team of Master Performers who will use their deeper insights into all of this as they affect the Design effort’s “modularization” of the content, its sorting and sequencing, and it’s final packaging.

This insight of that variance enables learners/Performers to skip or test out of certain content that’s otherwise deemed/thought to be Required (to Know/be capable of demonstrating).

Places They Work and/or Learn

I need to know the variances in where (under what conditions) the members of the Target Audience work and learn. Some might work exclusively inside, and some exclusively outside in the elements (weather). Some might have quiet spaces to go to partake in Learning efforts – and others may have to do so in noisy spaces.

This insight enables the Design Team to more appropriately determine the Modes and Media for post-Design Development – especially for that content that’s deemed/thought to be Required (to Know/be capable of demonstrating).

Primary-Secondary-Tertiary Oh My!

I started defining these 3 types of Target Audiences in the late 1980s after a Project Steering Team member got upset at the very end of the project when he “discovered” that a particular Target Audience “wasn’t on our radar screen” and we weren’t addressing at all.

They blew a gasket – as that saying goes.

Now, how they missed that absence when they reviewed the Performance Data (that didn’t cover one Output or Task from their “Target Audience” isn’t a mystery. I am always in doubt about having any project team member’s full attention in the data generation efforts and in the data review efforts.

I am never under any delusions that I have 100% of everyone’s attention, 100% of the time.

So I have to decide when to “make something a BFD” – as that saying goes. Or I live with the consequences.

That’s why I prefer my Facilitated Group Process and working with groups (teams). I can decide when to “get theatrical” and play to the back row – as that saying goes.

I can decide to use my voice’s volume and my emphasis in my use of certain language and my physical gestures to draw attention to key things.

I don’t always succeed. But I try.

The Facilitated Group Process

After just a few months out of college in late 1979, I got frustrated after doing 7 iterations of a video script – and demanded to my boss’ boss that I bring in all of the SMEs into our conference room to bang out the 8th and final script.

We did, and number 8 was the charm – as that saying goes. I’ve been a fan of working with Groups (Teams) ever since. It’s not an easy job for the Facilitator for sure, but the gain is worth the pain IMO>

This new book (2022) is available – here.

The series it is a part of can be reviewed – here.

All of my published books (20+ since 1994) can be reviewed on my Amazon Author’s Page – here.

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