What About the Other 95%?

Several years ago I had the privilege of being invited to sit on a panel discussion called “The Future of the Business of Learning”. Josh Bersin was one of the other panelists and shared some interesting data that validated my passions around pursuit of a performance paradigm. Josh shared that, on average, we spend about 5% of our 2,000 hour work year in some form of formal training…that’s about 100 hours.  For some industries, that’s high…but hey…it wasn’t what Josh shared…it’s what he did not share. A little math took place in my head…and the rest is history…

Discovery @ Point-of-Work Is the Starting Point for Intentional Design

What about the Other 95%?

Seven years have come and gone since that moment and I’m still not seeing much evidence that the “Other 95%” is even on the radar in many L&D organizations. And yes, I’m still wondering why not. What’s not obvious about the importance of the Other 95%? Why are we not stepping up to support the ONLY opportunity to drive the creation of real business VALUE through sustained workforce capability? How can Training to the point of potential be enough?

No One-Trick Pony

There really is no one solution or one technology to enable the Other 95%. We are indeed moving closer to the Point-of-Work by decreasing the size of learning assets and enabling access to those assets through applying the power of mobile technology.

Yes, we are headed in the right direction. And yes, we are bringing learning opportunities closer to the Learner at the Point-of-Work. But still…I have to ask, are we really addressing the Other 95% or are we just dragging the 5% closer to the Point of Work?

The Other 95% will remain outside of our scope unless we start getting intentional with our discovery efforts and the solution design that follows.

Gary G. Wise
Performance Strategist
(317) 437-2555

  1. August 24, 2017 at 1:24 am

    I’m a huge fan of your work Gary and based on the respect I have for your work I want to add some critical notes to feed the discussion. Bringing in some analysis is very nice and clarifying. But analysis is splitting things up for easier understanding. I think we also need more synthesis – connecting the element again, maybe in another, smarter way after analysis. The pie chart seems very clear to convey the core message. But at second thought it is a not so good representation of reality. It suggests the 5% and 95% are totally disconnected which is not the case in reality. The 5% training is much more connected, intertwined with the 95% point of work in reality. Not always and I don’t say its perfect but it isn’t as bad as the chart suggests. And yes, I agree with a huge opportunity to create value at the point of work – but 100%? And the ONLY (with capitals) opportunity to create value can’t be true. The fact that 80% op the L&D expenses go to the 5% training time suggests that this is a silly ratio. But it doesn’t really say anything at all. Chicken is 5% of chicken soup but takes 80% of the costs for the soup – why not skip the chicken at all?
    I think there is still a lot to win by focussing more on the point of work and the performance paradigm. And you do a great job Gary in inspiring the L&D community over and over again to move in that direction. What I miss is the integration. I suggest in each specific situation with it’s specific performance issues, problems, ambitions and context it starts with a good analysis. An analysis based both on rationality and empathy. A good analysis will offer enough criteria for the best design of the solution and the elements the solution should contain (including the rationale how the solution should solve the issue). I don’t mind what the ratio of the different elements might be – with ‘training’ being 5% or 1% or even 80%. I think we should take a more synergetic approach – aiming for 100% solutions to create value. I hope you can elaborate on that.

    • August 24, 2017 at 7:36 am

      The pie chart is intended to show the two environments where research shows where we have the potential to learn – 1) Not at Work (5%) and 2) At work (95%). The whole point is to illustrate the imbalance that a Training paradigm that garners up to 80% of our L&D resources to train “Not at work” is out of balance. And to your point…is silly…and I would add…is just plain wrong.

      Like the 70:20:10 framework, any ratio of numbers can act as a double-edged sword and create false expectations around the numbers and not embrace the spirit they are intended to represent. I agree the “intertwining” you mention is critical, and we are starting to see it come to pass, but it has not reached mainstream acceptance yet. 70:20:10 outlines HOW we learn. 5:95 shines the light on WHERE we have the potential to learn. To me, ground zero is clearly where performers perform and the current paradigm is out of balance in terms of where we spend our time and money to accomplish value creation.

      LES platforms will help, adaptive learning will streamline learning, and EPSS-like functionality will embed support assets within workflows. This “blend” is where I envision when I see the word “intertwined, and the “intentionality” I reference hopefully rises above the ratios and drives home the fact that if we are not locked onto Point-of-Work from a blended solution design perspective all the enabling technology on the planet and training innovations are disconnected from the brass ring of sustained workforce capability at Point-of-Work. [That was a really long sentence…]

      The concept of good analysis, to me should be more holistic and look at 100% of the learning and performance ecosystem which is inclusive of the People, Processes, Content, Technology, and Metrics. To me those are criterion for holistic performance assessment and if accomplished with Point-of-Work at ground zero, the percentages and ratios matter not.
      Thanks for reading and sharing thoughtful comments. Take good care, Ger!

  2. James Melone
    August 24, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Thanks, Gary, for keeping this discussion going. Although I provide global L&D leadership within my organization, I continue to champion the design of work in such a way that the workflow, resources, environment, motivations and information align to facilitate performance without the necessity of formal learning. If done well, this process allows learning to occur naturally through the accomplishment of the work. Consider for example how often we purchase products for our personal lives and how we’re able to assemble those products without formal product training. While some might consider the step-by-step, written instructions—or, often, YouTube videos—to be “training,” I view those instead to be the “information” that we need at the point of work. The learning occurs as we’re assembling the product, and if we’ve purchased multiple products, that information gradually becomes “knowledge” as we reference the instructions less and less while assembling subsequent products. If we only assemble a single product, that “information” never even becomes “knowledge” in the first place, and if we gain knowledge through the assembly of multiple products but then don’t perform that task again for a certain amount of time, that “knowledge” slides along the ‘information-knowledge’ spectrum to once again simply be “information” that we’ll need to reference when we next perform that same task. With this in mind—and, again, maybe counterintuitively because I do lead L&D—I start many conversations by challenging the need for any kind of formal “training,” and only when a performance analysis suggests that the potential does not exist, because of a lack of required knowledge or skill, do I push the conversation to providing “learning opportunities” at or near the point of work rather than in the “not at work” environments that are too often favored by traditionalists.

    • August 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Hey James! Nice to hear from you! Your statement “this process allows learning to occur naturally through the accomplishment of the work” is the secret sauce in my mind. Learning and work are converging via a number of technologies and/or collaborative social platforms. What I find fascinating is the “natural” transfer of knowledge through work (at Work). Formal training will always have a place but the role is becoming secondary as we start intentionally designing assets that compliment the convergence of learning with work. Continued success in your forward-thinking role, my friend!

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