To improve, we must know our biggest failings.
In the training and development field, our five biggest failures are as follows:
We forget to minimize forgetting and improve remembering.
We don't provide training follow-through.
We don't fully utilize the power of prompting mechanisms.
We don't fully leverage on-the-job learning.
We measure so poorly that we don't get good feedback to enable improvement.
The previous post in this series covered the initial go/no-go decisions: are you required to build a job aid? Does a need for rate or speed make a job aid impractical?
If the answer in both cases is no, then you don't have to build a job aid, yet there's no reason not to (so far). A good way forward at this point is to consider the characteristics of the real-world performance you have in mind. This is related to though not the same as task analysis. I have my own name for it:
"A job aid is information used on the job that enables someone to produce worthwhile results while reducing the need to memorize how and when to do so.
As Joe Harless said, job aids tell you what to do and when to do it.
I've organized job aids here by type, and a given job aid can belong to more than one type-which is why you'll see some more than once in the following lists."
"As long as I have been giving talks I have been talking about the idea of learning being embedded in objects (crediting Bruce Sterling's novel Distraction). My favorite story was always the fishing pole that teaches you to fish. Then last year we actually saw the teaching tennis racket. Now they're becoming more and more commonplace. My colleague Rod Savoie points to this item, a "new epinephrine tool, an example of Performance Support? When you want to use it, it tells you what to do so that you don’t have to learn it ahead of time." I replied, "That's a great example of performance support. Now imagine the package getting information live from the internet, and knowing your son's medical history, language preferences, vocabulary level…" And Danny D'Amours points to A connected interactive toothbrush."
"Work Context Defined By SPACE
I’ve previously written about three attribute clusters [SPACE,SYSTEMS & MEDIA] found in a holistic learning environment in other posts, so will not redefine the nitty-gritty again here. However, in the short version – SPACE includes:
Clear definition of WHO is involved – by work role – function – department, etc. Don’t forget your Help Desk crew…and maybe even a relevant SME or two…
WHERE are the workers with proximity to workflow – in it – upstream – downstream
WHERE is the work physically taking place…as in geography
WHERE within the workflow(s) are performance gaps surfacing
WHEN does the performance issue manifest – before – during – after “X” happens
WHEN did it start – did it ever work – what changed when it broke – etc.
WHY – nod and smile when you get your answer, but don’t take it as gospel until you have evidence to confirm. We’re not the only ones willing to treat symptoms…
WHAT is the cost of failure & WHAT would be the VALUE of success
There are more things to consider, but these are the biggies, and might I point out…none of them are part of a training needs assessment. Why? Cause this AIN’T TRAINING…
Okay. Am feeling better now…
SPACE Points to SYSTEMS
The SYSTEMS attribute is not always hardware in nature. A SYSTEM could be a workflow. It can also include the directional flow of knowledge assets between and among work groups within a workflow. Consider things like:
If you plan to PUSH objects to the workforce they need some sort of DEVICE to have stuff pushed to.
Same deal for PULL – what technology is in hand/accessible from which to PULL assets?
HOW does the workforce access a network? Do they even have a network? Security, Firewalls, bandwidth, etc.
If collaboration is a viable source of information with WHOM and HOW is collaboration supported? Seriously…you may be surprised at just how “social” this solution might be."
Thanks to some friends on Google+, I discovered this Kevin Jones (vinJones) piece on Losing to Organizational Monsters That Don’t Exist:
Years ago Apple had a problem, they were losing to Microsoft. But the problem was that Microsoft wasn’t the enemy they were losing to (fabulous video).
The piece talks about how people and organizations often try to change a situation or attack a problem by creating what they think the opposite circumstances will be. People demotivated? Create motivation! Losing market share to X? Beat X at their own game! Project tasks always late? Create incentives for being on time! (Or punishments for being late!)
The problem, as Kevin Jones discusses is that we see the wrong thing. We look at situation X and try to find the opposite. Instead, maybe we should be looking under the covers and figure out what is causing situation X. Or to take his Apple example, look at the situation from a completely different angle.
This idea is some of the more interesting things I get to do in my process improvement / Theory of Constraints work. Step back and look at the situation. Find out the deeper causes of dissatisfaction, and the answers usually turn out to be non-obvious, but then they become obvious as you put together the pieces. For example, if you are looking to hire people because everyone is at their limit, maybe you should spend some time examining the system that is causing everyone to be "at their limit." Hiring someone new into the existing system will likely create another casualty
Performance support is all about your priorities. On a diet? Working in an intensive care unit? Worried about your readiness to cope with an earthquake? Or are you perhaps a boarding officer? Performance support earns your favor by targeting your concerns. U.S. Coast Guard officer Dan Hardin, a commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator, decided to use performance support to improve inspections on fishing vessels. Prior to the use of the performance support tool, boarding officers were required to attend a one-week course on the intricacies of enforcing hundreds of pages of federal regulations for fishing vessel safety. The complex laws applied to many boats and situations, and sometimes resulted in inconsistent or inaccurate choices by boarding officers. Hardin’s mobile support tool eliminated much of the memorization. The PDA generates a customized checklist of safety requirements for firefighting, lifesaving, and bridge equipment appropriate to each vessel. No more laboring to determine whether the law requires this particular ship to carry one of three different types of life rafts, an inflatable buoyant apparatus, life float, or nothing at all.
Using the organisational anatomy chart
This framework is complex and dynamic but it can still provide a simple set of headings to ask whether each part is working as it should and to look for symptoms of poor direction, weak leadership, low commitment, fuzzy thinking, unclear objectives, structural weakness, systemic failure etc. These headings are: -
Vision – does the company have a clear view of what the future might hold?
Mission – does it have a crystal clear goal?
Strategy – has it worked out a way to get from A to B?
Culture – does the culture match its strategic objectives?
System – can it be confident it will produce what it needs to?
Business and operating plans – do these translate strategic objectives into operational imperatives and produce value?
Structure – is it flexible and adaptable enough?
Process – is everyone clear what the process is and how it works?
Roles – does everyone know where they sit in the organisation and what their contribution is?
There are of course 2 ways to use this framework: -
Start from the bottom with an existing problem (like our sales activity example) and then track back, up to the top, to find the underlying, root causes or
Start at the top of the framework, identifying priority areas requiring treatment, before offering remedies at whatever level necessary
This is how you learn about processes by tapping everyone’s wisdom and experience.
If we continue to focus only on teaching individuals within companies how to do the things we have already figured out how to do via skill gap closure the learning function could ultimately become outsourced. Why? Because this is an efficiency based appro
The performance management schemes, grade levels in the organizations and compensation practices have yet to recognize how work gets done in networked environments and increasingly, in a networked world.
It’s all about performance support.
What’s “performance support?”
Also known as “job aids,” performance support is any system that provides information, tools, or guidance where they’re needed and when they’re needed. Your grocery list and the GPS syste
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