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
(317) 437-2555

  1. July 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Gary brings up the best point when he says, “Outcomes manifest at the point-of-work.” But let me make another point, one that is from a perspective about work in general.

    How many of us think that just having a college education guarantees us a job? Not when half of the recent college grads are jobless.

    And how many of our most experienced work-force are jobless no matter the education or background?

    Thing is, as Bob Dylan croaked decades ago, “The times they are a changin’.” …again.

    Change has always been with us but now it is measured in days and not decades. Colleges are using antiquated paradigms and corporations have copied them for years. No longer. It just costs too much money.

    So maybe we should do as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andrew Carnegie and all the other gazillionairs who skipped the “training” part and just dove into the deep end of the pool. To paraphrase Nike: they just did it.

    Now we don’t have to leave our workers swinging in the wind while they figure if all out on their own. We can provide them with quick access from their cell phones or tablets when and where they need it so they can do their jobs NOW, not weeks or months down the road.

    But are you up to the task of changing?

    Change or die could be the motto we use.

    I prefer change and live.

    • July 23, 2015 at 10:07 am

      …and without sand in our shorts!

  2. Sarah Teagle
    July 27, 2015 at 6:18 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments you are saying Gary and luckily have the advantage of being a learning and development professional within a large business function rather than based in HR. I am seeing currently a paradigm shift in my L&D role which involves more and more trying to getting to the root cause of problems. However, I’m struggling bringing everyone along with me as some managers thinking Ishould be delivering ‘training’ and wanting to measure against what has been ‘delivered’ rather than the impact. Where exactly our roles will land I’m not sure but personally I feel it should all be about performance support and that ‘training’ as we know it with generic programmes is dying out. We need to align closely with the business, understand the issues and produce practical solutions to limit time out of the day job for individuals and speedy access to what they need to do their jobs.

    • July 27, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Sarah, first of all, thanks for reading; secondly, I feel your struggle in “bringing others along. It may be time to hide the pill in the cheese. Alison Rossett, at a recent conference said, “Stop talking about it (performance support) and just do it!” In other words stop trying to bring others along and just give them the “training”they think they need…only let it be performance support…just don’t tell them that’s what it is. You can truthfully say you are converging learning with the point of work. Training is dying off in the traditional sense, but people freak out when you imply that something known for so long is no longer valid. So don’t tell anybody that. What you are producing drives performance…and even though they want you to measure training you have to ask them what they want the training to do? They are stuck in a training paradigm, but ultimately want to see performance results that improve and are sustainable. So…”train them”…train them. to apply performance support assets at the point of work. You can satisfy the desire to measure training at levels 1&2…AND…levels 3&4 because those results come right on the heels of “training” where you integrated performance support. Give the. The “training cheese” they know and love and expect for you…but stuff that PS pill inside the cheese and just don’t tell anybody. You’re just moving “training” closer to the point of work. Evaluating business impact will then be seen as a bonus for them as opposed to the objective you rightly promote. Go ninja, my friend!

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