Rant: Is My Boomer Showing?

<Rant Alert>

Sorry, but this had to happen sooner than later, and I don’t expect a tidal wave of agreement…a few ripples will do. Even early warning signs of a tsunami are as subtle as the tide slowly receding from the shore. Yeah, this is about Performance Support…you expected something different from me? Ain’t happenin’! I’m done filling sandbags to protect the institution of training. You’ll find me on a board swimming out to catch the wave of root causes.

I floated a post out last week about “being at a state of readiness” regarding the adoption of the embedded performance support [EPS] discipline. I received a comment from a colleague that I could identify with as a flash from my own past history. He warned me that being so vocal about EPS could get me “bushwhacked”. He’s right; that could happen…again. You see, I already have that t-shirt and am old enough to no longer give a rip…

The “wave” I’m referring to is already visible, and many are stuffing sandbags with MOOCs and gamification and other forms of training innovation to bolster the flood wall of the corporate learning institution. Heck, even the recent rage over analytics is scrambling to find valid measures of effectiveness of learning programs. Yes, you can measure the effectiveness of sandbags to hold back the flood…until they get overrun. Knowledge transfer and the ability to measure it is not going to stop the flood…the flood being a rapidly building wave of business demand and continuous change.

If you cannot effectively address the consequences of the oncoming wave, maybe we should get ahead of it and go after what the momentum represents – business outcomes! Outcomes manifest at the point-of-work. The point-of-work is not behind a fortified wall of training sand bags…it’s out there at the crest of the wave of urgent, risk-filled moments of need in the work context. That…ain’t…where…trainin’…works…best!!!

We cannot be in the position to react to a flood [of demand/change] when there may be disruptive innovations within a new performance-centric paradigm to proactively ride with the flood where it’s cresting; the “crest” manifesting in the operational domain of our organization – where business outcomes are generated. If you’re lucky enough to have the training function owned by an operational arm of the business; you are much better off than L&D being owned by HR. I’ve worked in both worlds, and the HR [heavy resistance] mindset can be a sandbag filling bunch of skeptics when it comes to changing a long-held paradigm like training.

Certainly, we will need sandbags…always will, but what could be done if we meet the wave before it breaks by identifying root causes behind performance deficiencies that have squat to do with training? Don’t stop filling sandbags because part of that flood cannot be diverted, BUT…send a hit squad of performance consultants out to size up the wave first. Maybe you won’t need as many sandbags.

Seriously, the concept of a performance paradigm is an opportunity we need to address…no…adopt…and sooner than later. There was a time people did not want cars either…they wanted faster horses. We are at a similar crossroads now. We cannot buggy-whip the training horse into out-running the tsunami of business demand and continuous change that towers over us. We cannot sustain workforce performance with training. The promise of potential is not enough; we need performance outcomes, and we must proactively find and support those at the point-of-work…at the moment of need. Once again…that…ain’t…trainin!

Whew…Okay…I feel better now…probably hacked a lot of folks off with this little tyraid, but hey…been there, done that. Maybe it’s my age that promotes these rants. Maybe it’s looking back at the amazing string of failures I’ve tucked away in my portfolio of experiences by trying to sustain capability with training. Maybe it’s just my boomer showing.

[Gary drops the mic…]

If you need me I’ll be out on the floor digging for root causes. Don’t get any of that sand in your shorts…

</Rant Alert>

Gary Wise
Radicalized Workforce Performance Strategist
@gdogwise
(317) 437-2555