Formal Performance-Based WorkFlow Learning

Workflow is the latest term to describe what has previously been labeled Workstream, and before that, Process performance. It was also known as Task(s) – itself a tricky word, with a wide variation of meaning. Is the Task inclusive of the Output and the many steps/sub-Tasks? Or is a Task just one of many on the way to the Outputs – as Gilbert said: Worthy Outputs or Worthy Accomplishments.

Here from some Praxis Workshop materials:

Praxis was the consulting firm in the late 1960s and most of the 1970s of Geary A. Rummler, and Thomas F. Gilbert.

Great Minds in Learning Podcast Series

I am honored to have been included in John Helmer and Donald Clark’s recent podcast in the Great Minds in Learning where they talked about WorkFlow Learning, and mentioned me, Dick Clark, Bob Mosher & Conrad Gottfredson, Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein, and Charles Jennings.

Listen to it here:

Visit their website – for other podcasts in this series – here.

Some of my thoughts about all of this follow.

Performance-Based Instructional Analysis

If your Instructional Analysis uncovers Outputs & Tasks worthy of addressing – with high to medium stakes (Risks and/or Rewards) – where the life cycle value of addressing that, exceeds the investment costs – then the Informal Learning (or inadequate Formal L&D Content currently in place) need to be “beefed up – simply displaced, or augmented.”

People are on the Payroll to Perform Tasks to Produce Outputs to meet Stakeholder Requirements.

But just because an ISDer/LXDer can uncover a valid need for learning – does not in and of itself warrant meeting that need.

It’s a business decision to invest in upgrading the current Informal Learning situation to something more formal.

And I would start with a default mentality to see if Job Aids (Performance Support or Resources) would do the trick.

A Fork in Your Analysis-Design WorkFlow

And that comes down to this simple question in the fork in that road: Does the Performance Context Demand a Memorized Performance Response – or would it always Allow for a Referenced Performance Response?

Informal-Formal Spaced Learning

If it EVER Requires a Memorized Performance Response – you train for recall – and if the job itself doesn’t provide the Informal Spaced Learning – because the learner/Performer does the performance “every day all day long” – then you must assist the learner/Performer fight the Forgetting Curve through Formal Spaced Learning.

The Means of Learning Are Always On a Continuum

Spaced Learning – like Trial & Error Learning (TAEL) and Social Learning – all exist on a continuum – of unstructured to structured.

Here is a graphic from my recent book, Structured Social Learning.

Learning Content Won’t Do Its Thing If It Doesn’t Address the Covert Cognitive Aspects

Too often formal Learning Content doesn’t include the covert Cognitive aspects of Task Performance – if it even covers authentic Tasks and Outputs and the Measures for both. It’s (excuse the expression) “Monkey See Monkey Do Learning” – when it should be “Monkey Think and then Monkey Do” – as we cannot see the Thinking Tasks that occur before, during, and after each and every Behavioral Task.

That forces the learners/Performers from Formal Learning into Informal Learning – via TAEL (Trial & Error Learning) or Informal Social Learning.

That’s why IMO the percentages of Informal vs Formal Learning are so lop-sided with Informal being 60-70-80-90%.


It’s not the ideal future state –
it’s the lousy current state.

The 70 and 20 – the Informal Learning (TAEL) and Informal Social Learning are sometimes capable of being improved. But first…

Another Mental Model Shift

I’ve flipped that Reference to 10-20-70.

I’d start off on the High Stakes Performance with Formal – the 10 and that part of the 20 that’s more formal, more structured.

And then I’d enable that part of the 20 that is also Informal along with the 70 that is totally Infomal, and happenstance – for you’re darn lucky if you find a generic Resource that is authentic enough to your specific needs of “Performance of Tasks to Produce Outputs that meet Stakeholder Requirements” that actually enables your performance without too much TAEL involved.

Perhaps on that day, you should go out and buy a lottery ticket.

Enabling the Informal Portions of the 20 – and All of the 70

See what the enterprise already has in place – across the board or in pockets. Work with the Users and their management to augment the Current State.

A couple of books – from my 20+ published since 1994 – that might be of interest are from my new Mini-Book Series:

On Analysis

On Performance Support

See all of my books on my Amazon Authors Page:


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