Home > AGILE, Discovery & Consulting, EPSS, Learning @ the Point of Work, Performer Support, Sustained Capability > Convergence and the Impact on Our Training Paradigm

Convergence and the Impact on Our Training Paradigm

When we are chasing sustainable business system implementation there are a number of activities organizations pursue. The traditional stand-by includes training for end-users…and I own several of those t-shirts…most reminders of a failure. Not a failure of rendering a quality training product from the teams I led, but a failure that manifests post-deployment – adoptionoptimizationsustained capability – take your pick of those three in any combination.

What we missed, despite sexy, sizzling eLearning course content and outstanding platform trainers was the nature of the environment we were targeting – deployment. We did exactly what our training scope and charter were designed to do – transfer knowledge effectively…and we did. What we did not do was drive a sustainable implementation to the point of adoption and optimization. Besides those things not being in our scope; they were not even part of our paradigm.

What I’ve just described comes out of my experience archives, but what I’m describing is not ancient history. It’s still happening, and we are continuing to do what we’ve always done. We train in excellent ways…and we continue to fail to sustain capability at the point of work. That’s what tends to happen when you’re wrapped around an outdated paradigm. If asked to point to a significant driver stressing our current training paradigm, I will argue that “convergence” is at the core. [See Figure #1]

Figure #1

Convergence is causing a collision “at the point of work” with the need to apply the knowledge that what was effectively transferred during training – at individualized moments of need – to support flawless execution within the workflow. Training does not…and cannot…facilitate convergence. It can however, contribute to a more holistic Learning & Performance paradigm that is inclusive of training. So there is hope for our paradigm…

Our problem was focusing on nailing the deployment of learning because it was our job…and then screaming over the wall to the Help Desk – “INCOMING!!!”, and it was, and it did. So we applied a band-aide on the next wave of deployment and had super-users specially trained wearing red vests and trolling workspaces looking for hands raised in desperation when a moment of need arose. No. Not sustainable. Cost alone scuttled that fix.

You might ask, “So what happened to that great training job we did?” Quite honestly, our course content did what the best training course content does…it is quickly forgotten. Knowledge retention fades rapidly if not reinforced or used even minutes after training assessments validate knowledge transfer. Give it a few weeks and a small fraction remains intact. Recall knowledge evaporates in the haze of memory overload that is a routine part of every knowledge worker’s life. Knowing that, the emphasis needs to be on what asset(s) make the most sense at the moment of need. [See Figure #2]

When a Performer confronts a “Do I cut the red wire or the blue wire” moment of need; logging into the LMS and searching for the reference knowledge buried in the “How to Disarm a Chorizo Sausage” eLearning course is not an option…especially when the fully-armed chorizo sausage they’re facing has a ticking timer attached. They simply need to know which wire to cut…NOW! That ain’t training!

Armed Chorizo Sausage
Figure #2

Granted we do not run across many fully-armed chorizo sausages these days, but I think you get my drift. The emphasis in that red wire/blue wire moment of need cannot leave a critical performer to rely upon recall knowledge. And…it certainly should not default to tribal knowledge because that’s usually what happens when we cannot remember – we ask our neighbor – and hope they remember accurately. Make the wrong choice and “Boom!”‘…we have combination plate #7…minus the seafood burrito.

These red wire/blue wire moments of need are referred to by Dr. Conrad Gottfredson as the Moment of Apply. The Moment of Apply happens in the downstream, post-training, after-transferred-knowledge-has-been-forgotten, risk-laden, urgent-to-perform-flawlessly environment I call “the point of work”. The attributes of this environment include urgency to perform, business risk, potential liability, creation of material waste…just to name a few…all of which have real tangible dollars attached to less than flawless performance. That’s where convergence happens and Training is MIA at the point of work because our current paradigm does not include it.

We need some way to facilitate convergence so that performers can effectively access performer support [PS] assets that were intentionally designed to satisfy the red wire/blue wire moments. Those assets must be accessible at the moment of need. They must be relevant to the task to be performed, and there needs to be a high degree of usability. That ain’t training either, folks!

The discipline I’m suggesting that is best suited to facilitate this convergence phenomenon is called Embedded Performance Support [EPS]. EPS is at the core of an evolved Learning & Performance Paradigm. Convergence changes the rules of engagement. Convergence exceeds what training was ever intended to deliver. Convergence is individualized, meaning performers do not all have the same moments of need at the same time. Given that diversity of need, we see an immediate complication around identifying when those moments will manifest.

A Training Needs Assessment won’t uncover those discrete moments because we’re too busy nailing down learning objectives. The EPS discipline; however,  takes us to the point of work where APPLY happens and gives us a clearly targeted ground zero for performance needs assessment. That implies new discovery questions served up on a bed of performance consulting. If the rules of engagement have changed with this new ground zero, shouldn’t the roles that drive intentional design and engage at ground zero change as well? Methinks they should.

Not only who engages and with the on-board skills they already possess, we need to consider how to get the right assets into the right hands as quickly as possible. Actually, I describe “six right things” in an earlier post we need to have in place as drivers if we are to be successful with EPS integration – we need the right learning & performance assets – in the right learners’ and performers’ hands – at the right moment of need – in the right amount – in the right format – to/from the right devices.

The rage these days seems to point toward the pursuit of “agile” design and development methods, but from what I’ve experienced in the last seven conferences I spoken at over the last 15 months, the pursuit is often too narrowly focused on rapid development as the outcome.  An agile methodology need to be so much more than lipstick on the training pig. Training is not meeting the “point of work moments of need” so building training faster serves no purpose. I highly recommend that our design and development pursuits are better served if the design is intentionally targeted to reducing time-to-impact as opposed to time-to-training.

The sooner we can break out of the grips of our comfortable training paradigm and address the downstream point of work with intentionally designed, role-specific, task-centric workflow PS assets, the sooner we will be able to effectively address convergence. Until we do, we’re flirting with the makings of a combination plate.

Now I’m hungry…going to be Mexican tonight for sure…

Gary Wise
Learning & Performance Solutions Strategist
LinkedIn Profile
Twitter: Gdogwise

  1. May 28, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Hello Gary;

    I thought I’d take this time to first of all thank you for taking the time to write so many blog posts for us to learn from and to expand our corporate ID vocabularies. 🙂

    I also thought I would submit my “widow’s mite” as a little feedback.

    I’ve been reading your blog posts for a short while now and I think you are finally getting to where I think ID people need to focus.

    I could write a whole book, or a couple if I were so inclined, on the changes in Education since the Internet and where that Education should focus it’s efforts but I’ll spare you the boredom. 🙂

    Instead how about talking Basketball? I ask you, when have you ever seen a coach set his players down during practice and study the rule book? Are the rules necessary? Sure. Then why don’t they study the rule book? Because their primary duty is to perform. How are they assessed? If they win or not. How is the coached assessed? If they win or not. He can’t hide behind weeks of project management meetings trying to design instructional aids to create a deliverable to the players and then go back into his office to wait for the season to end before he starts his next season/project.

    His job it to take highly talented high school kids with dubious academic abilities, teach them to perform at a level they have only dreamed about and do it in a few months. And if he doesn’t he just may loose his job because he is the face of the team. Think about it. If ID people were held accountable for their efforts in increasing performance as much as say John Calipari or Tom Cream (I’m an IU grad) would ID projects look any different? Have you listened to these masters of training to hear what they focus on? Is it to create an eCourse with those lovely PowerPoint slides and droning narrators trying to “transfer knowledge” to their viewers? Come on! Maybe that’s why ID people aren’t paid millions of dollars and are more of an afterthought then the first move in achieving success for a corporation.

    I could go on but why? You are a smart guy. You can see the point I’m making. Sure there are those who could try to bring up organizational arguments against my position that would sound very impressive with their “corporate speak” and would persuade most corporate people more interested in maintaining the status quo, not to mention their jobs, then in helping actual people do THEIR jobs well enough to keep them. In the end, shouldn’t it be the student and not the project that is the priority? That is what a coach would say. Correction; a SUCCESSFUL coach would say because they know their players as people, as those who they grow to love and who become a part of their ongoing lives, who they take pride in saying that they helped them to become not only a successful player but more importantly a successful PERSON.

    Okay, I’ll get down from my pulpit now and let you get on with your very important work.
    Oh, as Columbo would, just one more thing. I’m one of those who came from a blue-collar background where actions speak louder then words and who knows it’s getting the job done not just talking about it that’s important. In that light I have taken a few months of downtime, forced downtime I might add because of totally incompetent ID people, and created a Web platform to deliver job aids where ever and whenever they are needed. Not very sexy but if you are a “coder” then you might appreciate the technologies used to achieve this oh so minor miracle.

    Until your next missive is delivered to my Inbox, I encourage you to keep on keeping on.

    Larry Slater

    • May 28, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Larry, thanks so much to you for taking the time to share your thoughts and the kind words. It is encouraging to know someone is reading these posts I am spewing into the blogosphere. I love your basketball metaphor and find it landing close to home given I live between the corn and soy bean of southeastern Indiana…not to mention two kids at IU as we speak.

      I like the basketball metaphor also because it is a perfect example of where our design methods should reflect an “intentionality” driven by the need for agility not just in the development of “game plans” but for adapting to what happens once the ball is “tipped”. As we all know game plans are perfect until another team is on the floor competing for the win.

      When you get right down to it, you’ve highlighted another one of the Moments of Need that does not get as much press as the moment of APPLY [Moment #3 of 5]. I’m referring to the Moment of CHANGE [#4 of 5]. In your metaphor, that is the moment best laid plans and strategies and planned tactics go to crap because the competitive landscape just changed. That does not change the talent on the team, nor diminish the skills; rather it drives the need to adapt in a agile manner and be resilient in the face of change.

      Is that a Performer Support Opportunity? You bet it is, and it is the coach’s job to change the tactics. Call it collaboration. Call it social learning at the moment of need. It’s not a job aid. It is a pre-meditated collaborative interaction. What’s more important it was a tactical change shaped by a changing environment as opposed to performance failures that we normally target. And what’s even more important in that respect is the environmental change was not a surprise, it was anticipated, and I call that a perfect example of INTENTIONAL DESIGN.

      Okay, I’m on my soap box now, and had better wrap this up or our comments will become a post in and of themselves.

      I appreciate you. I appreciate your time and your passion to be on the same path with me. I welcome further dialogue should the urge be flung upon you!

      Take good care!

  1. May 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm

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