Knowing and Doing

Learning professionals are trained to aim programs at what people should DO rather than what they should KNOW, that training should be performance-based rather than subject matter based. The behavioural learning objective is at the heart of most instructional design approaches.  When done well, a learning (or e-learning) program based on what people need to do will be much more effective than a program based on subject matter.  Cathy Moore has made behavioral task analysis for training simple and straightforward with her Action Mapping approach here.

What really matters

However, what really matters in organizations is what people accomplish or PRODUCE as a result of their all their knowing and doing.  In organizations knowledge, skill and behaviour are a means to an end.  And like all other resources they need to be used efficiently and to produce products and services of value to customers.  So, when designing training we need to:

  • Identify (or validate) the job outputs and accomplishments that add value to the organization
  • Identify the behaviors (tasks) that best produce the job or process output
  • Identify the knowledge and skill that people need to support the tasks

This is the stuff of job modeling, performance analysis and performance consulting.   Too many jobs are ill-defined or documented in terms of what people do (activities, tasks) rather than what they produce or accomplish.  Performance consultants can add immense value simply by helping their organizations align job output with process and business unit output.

Are you adding cost or adding value?

When training and e-learning programs are not derived from critical job outputs they risk adding cost to the organization by building skills and knowledge that don’t add value…that do not contribute to job output needed by the organization.  Since driving cost out of business is always top of mind, especially in these economic times, trainers put their own jobs at risk when they don’t base their training on valued job and process outputs.  It also typically makes programs much leaner and more measureable than task or behaviour driven programs.

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This blog contains perspectives on the issues that matter most in workplace learning and performance improvement.  It’s written by Tom Gram.

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