L&D: Do Not Practice Indifferent Acceptance

Some Cannot See the Forest For the Trees

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
– Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Promise Me Anything – But Give Me Valid Practices

Actually – Promise me Valid Practices. And promise me that there will be “no indifferent acceptance to Invalid Practices.”


I’ve been caught up recently (and again) on LinkedIn and Twitter exchanges about Learning Styles. Learning Styles as “Foo Foo” has been a thing for me since the late 1980s when I was first exposed to it at NSPI (now ISPI) and I’ve been publishing about it myself as being nonsense since 2000. In November 2011 I published this in elearning magazine:

Why Is the Research on Learning Styles Still Being Dismissed by Some Learning Leaders and Practitioners?

Many others have published on this Myth. Many times Many – but alas and alack – we still have miles to go. Collectively. As a profession. L&D. Learning & Development.

Or whatever flag you fly under.

Why is this such a BIG DEAL?

What Responsibility Do We Have – To Each Other and To Our L&D Clients & Stakeholders?

Good Stewards of Shareholder Equity: DO NOT Practice Invalid Methods.

Invalid Methods and Models, Tools and Techniques waste Shareholder Equity.


BTW – ROE – Is “Return on Equity” – Not “Return on Expectations.”

What Can We/You/I Do?

We can improve the Wisdom of Our Crowd – by following those who are established L&D Foo Foo Fighters. And re-Sharing what they share for the benefit of those who follow you. Be worth following.

Who would be on Your List of Debunkers?

When it finally is available, Clark Quinn’s newest book, “Millennials, Goldfish & and Other Training Myths” will provide you with a starting list of Myth Busters in our field. I suggest following them and those in their networks.


We can also join Will Thalheimers’ Debunkers Club to stay current on the Fads and Foo Foo in L&D worth and needing Debunking – and what to do/use instead. And to find even more Fellow Debunkers.

But Wait – There’s More…Unfortunately…

It’s not just Learning Styles. It’s not.

I started collecting my own Foo Foo Topics back in 2009 and have complied – but not kept current – the rebuttals from others about each in the list – on this set of pages on my website:

Foo Foo/Myth Fighting

Guerilla Foo Foo Warfare

You don’t have to declare yourself. Or you can.

But if our field is to have any credibility we have to find our way past invalid practices to proven practices and avoid the quicksand of Foo Foo on our journey. Become part of The Resistance to Foo Foo.


We have to be Business Champions First and Practitioners of Valid Practices Second – for even Vaid Practices should be avoided if they squander Shareholder Equity. You’d feel the same way if it was all your money.

Foo Foo Fighters of L&D

Carry on.

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L&D: Support the Supervisor in Supporting the learner/Performer

With a Development Path/Map

And an Individual Planning Guide – to customize the plan to the individual’s needs.

One size does not fit all.


The Individual Planning Guide

Is meant to adapt the Path/Map to the Needs of the Individual – due to the different job tasks to be assigned, and the incoming knowledge/skills based on prior education and experience.


I’ve Been Doing These Since 1982

And I presented on the “Path” concept first in 1984 – at the Chicago Chapter of NSPI (now ISPI). And then I presented it again, nationally, at the NSPI Conference in 1985.


The concept is that there is a total, Enterprise Curriculum, and that Paths are “down-selects” from that total collection – put into a suggested sequence – rather than the Course Catalog of that time with no guidance as what to take first, second, third, etc.

The “suggested sequence” is suggested by the Master Performers from the Target Audience when they served on the Design Team – per my typical/default methodology of using a Facilitated Group Process – for both Analysis and Design.

Here Is a Path Example From 1986 – Updated in 1989

Several upfront Events (Modules) were taken even before developing a Training Plan – to help the individual get a better feel of what their job was really and what specific “Product Team Calendar” events and activities that they needed to get ready for.

As this Path was for Product Planners/Managers in 5 SBUs – and the job held one to eight different components – there was tremendous variability in the first job assignments within the 1100 members of the Target Audience – it was necessary to provide for adaptation of that suggested sequence. There was no “One Path.”


On of the modular Events (Module) from that Path assisted in preparing to Develop Your Plan…


The Path include Formal Training in 4 modes:

  • Group-Paced
  • Self-Paced (Readings, videos, CBT)
  • Structured OJT (Structured On-the-Job Training coached by the Boss or a Peer)
  • Unstructured OJT (only a title was provided)

Unstructured OJT is now currently known as Informal Learning (the 70 – in the flipped version 10-20-70 of the 70-20-10 Reference Model).


The 12 Minute Video Provided an Advanced Organizer


Here is that video:


2 Past Posts on This One Project

An On-Boarding Story – Ramping Up a New Product Manager

Graphics and Models for Advanced Organizers for Preparing Learners for Learnings

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L&D: Where Is the Performance Support for the Performance Supporter?

Where Is Your Performance Support for the Supervisors, Managers, Directors and Executives of the Enterprise?

Mostly – it simply doesn’t exist in my experience.


This is the CORE portion of any manager’s job – in my L-C-S Areas of Performance Framework.


Planning Work

This is where the Supervisor/Manager can/should think about stretch assignments and developmental assignments to grow the skills of their staff via the “70” and their coaching/mentoring others – the “20.”

Besides of course, the basic blocking-and-tackling of planning to get the work done – the routine work and the non-routine work. That too!


Assigning Work

How to determine the need to be more Crystal Clear than usual and how to employ Active Listening when making assignments.


Monitoring Work

This is easier of course, if the Supervisor/Manager did the jobs to be monitored before becoming a Supervisor/Manager. If not – they’ll need some help in that – or they just might “shy away” from doing this important part of their job – with its negative impact to Enterprise Process Performance.


Troubleshooting Work

Again, this is easier if the Supervisor/Manager did this back in the day. This might require general/generic Troubleshooting skills and/or specifics regarding what typically goes wrong and how to avoid it and what to do if unavoidable.


Performance Support for the Performance Supporters

First – FLIP the 70-20-10 Reference Model. Think about the 10-20-70 version – and don’t latch onto the numbers as ratios with any real meaning. It’s not a goal. It’s not backed by research about “what should be” – it reflects “what is/was” for a very small segment of managers. But if you can’t lose the numbers – flip them.

Do most of the 10 before most of the 20 before most of the 70.


Provide the “10”performance-based formal training & development … with appropriate Practice & Feedback – and not just learning via e-learning that cannot facilitate said Practice & Feedback for the kinds of knowledge/skills as they are applied on-the-job.

Provide the “20” – less-informal/somewhat-formal performance-based Coaching and Mentoring to new and existing Managers (including Supervisors).

Provide the “70” – the Enterprise-wide expectations and infrastructure and recognition & rewards to both demand and enable and reward the Informal Learning needs. Continuous Nudging. Continuous Monitoring. Continuous Reinforcement.

My 2011 Book On This


For information on this book, and/or to order it – click on:

Developing Your Management Areas of Performance Competence (2011) – as Paperback and Kindle

– a model for individual use or Enterprise-wide use to define a Manager’s Performance Competence requirements, assess for improvement areas, and then develop a Management Development Plan.

Paperback $15 and Kindle $7.50

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L&D: Not Many in L&D Even Target Authentic Performance

Going Beyond Instruction For Performance Improvement?

I’m not sure that there are many Performance Improvement Professionals in the “L&D Space”…


… although there are some performance-based L&D professionals – but sadly most in L&D are not even targeting authentic performance. They’re addressing Content – and their Analysis is best called Content Analysis.

How do we change that?

Sharing Best Practices IMO

Friend Brett Christensen posted this today:

Just because it says performance doesn’t mean it’s there (sadly)

He shares. I share. Many share.

Why isn’t that having the desired impact?

Oh – And Regarding Best Practices…


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L&D: Best Practices From Benchmarking

I Believe in Best Practices

When I wrote my Books, Articles and Blog Posts – I intended to share my Best Practices.

When I crafted my Presentations for Conferences and Chapters and Online delivery – I intended to share my Best Practices. When I created my Audio Podcasts and Videos – I intended to share my Best Practices.

As a successful external consultant in the Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management and Performance Improvement spaces – since 1982 – serving 85 clients – I have some things to share:

What works, When and How – and Where and with Who – so to speak.


I believe other authors and presenters are doing the same. Sharing Best Practices.

For others to Adopt and or Adapt.

As Always – as a Blend – of Adopt and Adapt.

Even if they aren’t always crystal clear about that aspect.

From:  The Pennsylvania State University

From this PDF I found Online. After looking for Robert Camp’s 1989 book on Benchmarking – which I used to own – but now cannot find – Onshelves.

Someone probably benchmarked it. And adopted it as their own. :)

Here are THE Penn State U’s 5 Phases – note my highlighting of Phase 3:


In Phase 3 They Suggest Adopt (Apply) or Adapt

I take Apply as Adopt “As Is.”


Back in the Day – Robert Camp Popularized Benchmarking for Best Practices

Even back in 1989 we learned as we took breaths of air. Continuously. Formally and Informally. It was even Modern then – back in the day. But we used mostly paper and not screens of electrons. That was modern. We read within our Professional Domain and external to it.


When I read Camp’s book – back in 1989 – as my clients at General Dynamics were all reading it – there was one takeaway that I caught – that others even back then did not always catch – was that no one should blindly adopt someone else’s best practices.

Although there might be some aspect that you could adopt rather than adapt.

But the general understanding – even way back then – to those who read it carefully enough – was that adaptation was going to be the largest share between Adopt and Adapt.

In My 2001 Book: T&D Systems View

I included Benchmarking in the R&D processes within T&D/L&D.

After finding some processes/practices with promise, you’d test them out…



That’s still true today – and if I might I hazard a guess – it will be true far into the future.

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L&D: The Facilitated Group Process for Analysis & Design

Always with Master Performers

Also known as: Exemplary Performers, Star Performers, etc. Whatever. They’re the ones who are the best of the best. People to emulate. People to leverage.

They’re not perfect – but who else would you ask? Or interview/observe?


Yes – Experts can miss up to 70% of what a Novice needs – per the Research – but there are methods to employ to reduce those gaps.

There’s Cognitive Task Analysis. And there’s my Facilitated Group Process employed in Analysis and Design – and also in Development, Pilot Testing and Revision & Release.

The Team Approach

I first used a team approach – in design/development – way back in 1979 – and wrote about it in 1999 – here.

I was developing a Script for a Video Based Series of Training for Inside Sales Personnel on Product Knowledge. I used the vendors for the product – Windows – who were paying to have the generic Product – as my SMEs – and after 7 iterations of the script – I’d write it after interviewing the Vendor’s people and they’d individually send back conflicting edits.

And I’d go around that merry-go-round again And again.

At the 7th go-round – I’d had enough. I went to my management and suggested that we get all of the SMEs into a room and hammer it out once-and-for-all.

And so it happened.

Then in 1981 – I got severely burned in a Pilot Test after listening to the Corporate SME in Purchasing at Motorola. He’s been the Corporate SME for 7 years – and therefore his knowledge was lagging by about 7 years.

After that I asked for and got a Team of Master Performers from each site and went from there – developing my methods via trial and error. Learning after Burning – as I’ve written – for the past 30 years.

I’ve found that sometimes Other SMEs were also needed. And sometimes Management was needed. And in Design efforts – sometimes sharp Novice Performers were more than helpful.

And … that no new people should be added to the team effort after starting with Analysis – as they’d second guess all of the analysis data previously generated – and bring the Group Process to a slow march – one step forward and then two steps back – or to a complete halt.

These are the Lessons Learned I share with new clients and the PSTs – Project Steering Teams – whom I ask to handpick said Master Performers – for political acceptability for the data that the PST will review and approve before its used in the next steps.


Facilitating Master Performers Is Tough Duty

Yes. But well worth the pain – as in pain for gain. I’ve got guidelines for those comfortable with facilitation – or a lack of fear.

See this Blog Post that overviews the 12 – and provides links to 12 Blog Posts covering them further – here.


Your Facilitated Outputs May Differ

Mine are proscribed by my ISD Processes.


I’ve conducted 250+ Group Processes since 1979. To conduct Analysis. To design Learning Paths. To design Learning Content. To develop Learning Content.

I have trained others – over 500 ISDers – on these methods, and have been doing so since 1983.


Two 1984 Articles

Models and Matrices- NSPI PIJ -1984 – 5 page PDF – the first publication of the performance and enabler analysis methods for ISD, from NSPI’s (ISPI’s) Performance & Instruction Journal, November 1984.


CAD – Training Mag – 1984 – 6 page PDF – the first publication about Curriculum Architecture Design via a Group Process – published in Training Magazine in September 1984. Original manuscript (30 pages) – How to Build a Training Structure That Won’t Keep Burning Down.

My ISD Methods: PACT

You can search this site for additional Free PACT Resources – there are hundreds. And a few For Sale (Books and Consulting Services).


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