L&D: Design Thinking in ISD

Performance Thinking Needs to Be At the Forefront of Design Thinking in ISD

As one of my prior posts from last year suggested: I Don’t Want Design Thinking … Until After Performance Thinkinghere.

It’s all about Performance

Before Design Thinking. Before Personalization. Etc.

Before – During – and After.


Here is a recent post on Design Thinking – froman ISD perspective – from Roberta Dombrowski – here.

And here is a post from Connie Malamed – whom Roberta credits with some of her perspectives – also recent – here.


Empathy – to me – is and has been #1 about understanding clearly what the Performance Competency Requirements are of the target audiences.

And understanding any variances – as people with the same job title often don’t do the same things in THEIR assignments. And making sure that the eventual job aids and/or content helps people learn how to do their jobs – via a Task Orientation versus a Topics Orientation.

And then #2 understanding the possible variations of the incoming awareness, knowledge and skills people might bring into the job – and training. That so called Prior Knowledge or Prior Experiences – from Work Experiences and/or Educational Experiences.

And then building a flexible, modular set of Training (Job Aids and/or Content) that allowed individuals to skip stuff that some individuals wouldn’t need because #1 their jobs might not require it … and #2 that some individuals didn’t need because they already knew it.

Then the trick was to make sure that people could do what they had to do on the job by – 1st building the Performance Tests and Practice Exercises that were authentic enough to help prepare for transfer (and … the last practice exercise is/could be the Performance Test) – then determining if a demo would be helpful prior to the Practices/Test and building it – and then organizing all of the enabling Knowledge/Skills from the Analysis efforts in a sequence and depth that helped make the Demo make sense and prepare the people for Practice and Testing.


We’d iterate in a predictable manner. See the next graphic and Phases 4 and 5.

Alpha Test (talk to someone to see if it works, makes sense). Update as necessary.

Beta Test – adding more to the mix and with more eyes and hands on the INFOs-DEMOs-APPOs to see if they made sense and could be done and lead to competence. More updating as necessary.

And then the full blown, Pilot Test – which was intended to be a Full Destructive Test – meaning – we tried to make the Training fail now before Roll Out. Run it exactly (or as close as we could get to) how it would be used in the real world. With two audiences.

1- Master Performers who could assess the accuracy, completeness and appropriateness of the content – demonstrations – and application exercises (which the Target Audience could not do for us). Master Performers – some of whom had not been involved in the effort – as many times the Master Performers we worked with on the Analysis Team and Design Team and Development Team INSISTED that they be in the Pilot Test session – which always surprised our clients who thought they’d be sick of us and our effort and burden by that point – even though we were able to predict this strange behavior and demand as the project started. I’d borrow a line from Saturday Night Live when they guffawed: “Hear me now. Believe me later.”

2- And typical Target Audience members – so we could measure pre and post competence (which we could not do with Master Performers).

And I guess – 3 – Management Spies. I asked the Project Steering Team to send in some trusted attendees to the Pilot Test – and I called them Management Spies just so we were all clear on their role. Only they couldn’t sit on the sidelines as passive Observers. My rules. They be in the mix – and be in the exercises and read-outs, etc. Fully immersed – or Baptized in Fire – however you prefer to refer to it. Management Spies were a subset of group 1 – Master Performers or Other SMEs.


A funny thing happens when you tell the Developers at the Kick-Off of Phase 5 that THEY will be at the Pilot Test and if Group Paced will do the delivery themselves – and regardless of Deployment Mode would be introduced as THE Developer for each of their Lessons – and that they would facilitate the Lesson Debriefings for what they developed … so that they took seriously – MO SERIOUSLY … how they conducted those upfront Alpha Tests and Beta Tests. So as not to be embarrassed in the Pilot Test debriefings.

Think: “Show Your Work” with a critical audience. An audience asked to be critical.

Because I wanted those iterations’ check points taken MO SERIOUSLY – as I had promised/predicted a less than 10% rewrite after the Pilot Test.

Sometimes these ADDIE-like efforts (MCD – Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition) followed a more expansive Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD) efforts – to produce Development Maps or Training Paths, or Development Roadmaps, Training Menus, etc., etc.

That top-down approach of a CAD before MCD – helps with planning the cohesive curriculum – with all of the needed Spaced Reinforcements content – whether in the form of “micro reminders” and/or “macro events” – let’s build on what we already now know – that are necessary when the Learning isn’t reinforced enough by the job itself. And when learning is appropriately built on the prior learning of things covered earlier on the Map/Path.


BTW – what I didn’t learn from Geary Rummler about all of this – I learned from my former business partner (1982-1997), the late Ray Svenson, a former Bell Labs Engineer and then a Corporate Strategic Planner for Ma Bell (the old AT&T) … and from many, many others from NSPI/ISPI … and yet many others from the TQM movement.

Design Thinking – is IMO – simply a new label for some very old concepts, thinking, and practices – that I was very lucky to have been exposed to – starting back in 1979 as I entered this field – and afterwards on client projects.

I was lucky. Indeed. And my many mentors over the decades taught me to share as they had done. So, now …

Tag – you’re it.

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L&D: Tuesday L&D Processes Audit 16: T&D Service Line Design Process

T&D Process 5.3: T&D Service Line Design Process

Note: In my 2001 book I continued my decades old name for the profession as T&D – Training & Development.

Convert for your use as necessary. I will use both T&D and L&D in this weekly series for 2018.


Not all loose processes need to be tightened up.

You should only do that Investment if the Returns warrant.


Learning By Design vs Learning By Chance

When the Cost of Non-Conformance of poor Process/people Performance warrants the Investment in T&D/ Learning/Knowledge Management Content – then make those investments.

And – just because an L&D profession can determine a valid Learning Need and gap in Content – does not in and of itself warrant meeting that need – in any manner.

It’s a Business Decision. 


The L-C-S Framework View

I use both views…


Overview of the Big Picture


T&D Process 5.3: T&D Service Line Design Process

Process Purpose

The T&D Service Line Design Process is similar to the previous process, except that it macrodesigns the nonproduct T&D service line. Those services might include performance improvement consultation, executive and manager coaching, job redesign, etc. (depending on the capabilities of the T&D system’s personnel skills and the intentions of the T&D Governance and Advisory System). A nonproduct service is not a “widget,” such as a course, book, video, attendance at a seminar, etc. It could be something such as a “coaching service” that is provided to new supervisors.


Process Description

The T&D Service Line Design Process approaches the need for other-than-product needs best met by the T&D resources versus other functions/organizations (TQM, industrial engineering, etc.). For example, “executive coaching or mentoring” is a service and not a product. Conducting a needs analysis is also a service and not a product.

All of the potential nonproduct service offerings are determined and approved by the T&D Governance and Advisory System before being built or bought via this process.

For More About This Process In the T&D Systems View

See my 2001 book: T&D Systems View.


Click on image to link to the download page.

T&D Systems View is also available as a $15 Paperback book – and $7.50 as a Kindle – for more information and/or to order – please go – here.

This 2018 Weekly Series Continues Next Tuesday

For Past Series Posts search this site using: “Tuesday L&D Processes Audit”

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EPPIC w Gopher Logo

L&D: Recalling the Contributions of Geary Rummler

For Those Newer to the Fields of L&D and PI

Learning & Development and Performance Improvement. Those are fields where Geary was one of a handful (or two) of pioneers – whose work is still being used – by those who have been clued in to it. More should be IMO.

Today – April 16th – is the anniversary of his birth.


That’s me with the good doctor in 1982 along with his 1983 famous quote from an article.

He was saying this back in 1981 although I cannot find a reference – other than in my memories – for one.

I worked with him on a dozen or so projects during my time with MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center. I even showed up to MTEC one week earlier than my start date to attend a session he was giving – that was video taped and the day boiled down to 46 minutes. I was coming from Wickes Lumber in Saginaw where I worked 1979-1981 in a Training department where his brother-in-law worked and my supervisor and my co-worker (new from Blue Cross Blue Shield in Detroit themselves) had worked with Geary’s brother Rick. That video is posted below – along with 3 others.

I became a Rummler-ite – or Rummler-lite as one person joked years later, while at Wickes. I met Geary at the NSPI Conference in 1980. Then working with the master for 18 months – was very impactful to my professional development to say the least.

You Can’t Get There From Here

Back in 1967 Geary wrote this…

See the past post – from 2011 – on this – here.

Video 1981

2 Videos from 1986


Video from 2008

Video of the Tribute to Geary Rummler at ISPI in 2009

3 Personal Mementos from Rummler

From 1999 – The Book Review…

He signed his book for me in 2004…

I do miss my Rummler-Booster shots – which I got annually at NSPI/ISPI Conferences.

His Books

For Geary’s books – please go – here.

One More Time

Copy this for yourself…

Note – the quote changed slightly over the decades. Geary was always into continuous improvement.


The photo in this version is from 2008 and the video he did with me at the ISPI Conference.

Watch those early videos from the 1980s to get to know Geary’s contributions to the fields of T&D and Performance Improvement.

Geary – RIP. And thank you for all of your mentoring!

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L&D: Personalize Training After First Performance-izing It

Personalize It After Performance Orienting It

The Training Paths, the Training itself, and the Training Plans. And then the experience will be both Personalized and Performance Impacting.


Personalized Training – leading to Personal Learning – that isn’t oriented to improving authentic Performance – is a waste of Shareholder Equity.

And is measured by the real ROE – not Return on Expectations (unfortunate L&D/T&D nonsense) – but Return on Equity.

ROE – something your CFO can explain to you and how your Enterprise measures costs – that should be investments for a return and not simply expenses with negative or nil returns.

Unless, of course, you have unlimited money and resources and no CBIs – Critical Business Issues (Problems or Opportunities) to address.

Then it doesn’t matter – and Whatever, Whenever, However is probably OK.

(Just Kidding.)

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L&D: I Dislike Strawmen Being Used In the Rationale for L&D Approaches

I Am Not Sold When Your Pitch Is About Dismissing Some Strawmen

In fact, it makes me wary.


From Wikipedia

straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man.

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