Is Your Curation Tied to Intentional Design?

I’ve written about Intentional Design previously and not surprisingly it targets both learning AND performance.  Maybe the better title for this post would’ve been Are You Curating for Learning or Performance? I chose intentional design in this title because it’s not an either/or effort…we should be curating for both…but methinks if traditional L&D is the curator-in-charge the focus is not going to include Performance…not Point of Work focused…nor Moment of Need responsive. That’s why I offer this thought…Are our curation efforts as intentional as our design?

That question sets the stage for the discussion around…“What really are our intentions?”

Which begs the question… “What is our scope? Is it a learning solution? Is it a tactical performance solution? Or is it a hybrid solution that is agile enough to serve both purposes?”

Intentionality is borne out of perspective and scope, where in the traditional L&D sense…solution scope shapes perspective and/or limits relevance, effectiveness, and applicability at the Point of Work. Methinks that fact alone is enough to spark a step-change in L&D.

The question now becomes “Are we intentional enough?”

Intentional Design targets both…

  • Learningas in assets that facilitate effective, relevant and accessible knowledge transferAND
  • Performanceas in sustained workforce capability to execute at the task-level at the Point of Work and at diverse Moments of Need.

Those two targets imply a design structure and often technology that facilitates integration into the workflow…and…design that is agile enough to align with moments of need at the Point of Work.

Integration into the workflow implies we must have pre-design knowledge of that very workflow at the task-level…AND…

  • When & where performance crashed?
  • Who failed & why at that crash point?
  • Were there upstream process issues that triggered the crash?
  • What content assets were they consuming when the crash occurred?
  • What technology was involved (personal & enterprise) in the crash?
  • What was being measured that served as evidence of the crash in the first place?

All these answers must be known before anyone can be intentional about designing a solution to fix a performance gap…or a learning gap…or both.

From a curation perspective, it is even more critical to know these things because the assets to be curated should be aligned with actionable information intended to close the gaps present at crash points…both known and anticipated.

The skills to accomplish this level of discovery are not part of the current L&D paradigm; possibly supporting known crash points are within reach, but what about anticipated? The skills to curate effectively require a level of intimacy of actual workflows and onboard performance savvy that are often out of scope and out of capability for many in L&D today.

Is what I’m suggesting sounding disrespectful and a harsh indictment? Hell no…it’s a call to action.

If we really want to be intentional with our solution design, we absolutely must become intentional about assessing performance and addressing it with evolved skills, methods and technology.

That last statement is the main point of this rant, and is at the core of the needed STEP-CHANGE facing L&D today.

If your L&D team needs to step up to step-change in 2018, it might be time for us to road map a path to get there. I welcome all thoughts, conversations and inquiries that rants such as this one may stir up.

Is it going to be a great 2018. Will that include your L&D team?

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

  1. January 7, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Very interesting post (as allways) Gary. The concept of intentionality is so important to me. But I’d like to push it a bit further. As designers I think we should be aware of the intentions of the people we design for. In that perspective getting a job done is a different intention and different focus then learning something new. Sometimes they overlap: by getting a job done something can be learned and by learning something, parts of jobs can get done. We have to be happy when both occur but only as ‘side-effect’, something extra for free. In other words: if my intention is to perform, I might need support but I want to spent as little time on that in favor of performance. When I want to learn, I don’t want to be bothered by production, risks, waste or other performance stuff. The most interesting example is from top drummer Thomas Lang. He says (regarding drumming): ‘never play when you practice and never practise when you play’. It’s all about intention and focus on that intention to him. When practising he wants to learn something new, to master a new technique or rif and needs all attention to get it pefect. It’s often no fun to start with – it’s hard work and frustration. When playing you have to deliver the best result for your audience – you can’t just try out something that you don’t master yet and let it ruin the performance. In that sense I think we should also be intentional regarding the Point of Work. When the intention is really to learn something new I can very well think of situations where the best learning starts AWAY from the Point of Work. Because it is more effective regarding learning, less risky or both. Bringing the learning proces back to the point of work and transferring lerning towards performance are other aspect of intentional design. So intentional design is also about knowing when to split up learning and performance.
    I’m curious on how you see ‘Integration into the workflow implies we must have pre-design knowledge of that very workflow at the task-level…AND…(etcetera – all these good questions). Who should do the designing in these situations? Could it be that L&D – or however you call them – facilitate the review process by posing these questions thus facilitating the people who do the work to design the best solutions themselves? I hope you can elaborate on that a bit more.
    Well I guess this is a nice start of the year and I hope to be able to have many discussions with you to help us learn and perform. Greetings!

    • January 8, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Ger, great question and the answer is at the core of the step-change opportunity facing L&D. Who should handle the discovery? Ideally, it should be someone with intimate knowledge of the workflow and the inherent performance challenges within it. The bonus would be to have that discovery mapped to solutions for both learning AND performance. I believe L&D should be in the lead. Performance Consulting skills are a requirement in my opinion. Does L&D have those skills on board? They should. If not, they should acquire them or partner with someone who does. This is the path to take and will be the basis of my consultancy going forward. Partnering with Performers in the workflow is essential because those individuals are the best source of understanding the work and the root cause(s) impeding the desired performance. This understanding is the “pre-design knowledge” I referenced. It’s important to accomplish this discovery holistically and from multiple perspectives…meaning interviewing managers and/or first line supervisors may not be enough. I always…ALWAYS…want a private audience with the Performers who actually are hands-on with the work. It’s also best practice to look upstream from the Point of Work for drivers and restrainers that may be causing the ripples that rock the performance boat at the point of impact. To your point,”facilitating the people who do the work to design the best solutions themselves” is a very real situation. L&D cannot be the experts with all the answers. Performers often DO know what’s broken and why across the spectrum or People, Process, Content, Technology, and Measurement. To me they are the most valuable collaborators in the design process. IDs design it to be effective…Developers produce it to be consumed at the moment of need…and technology enables it to be accessible at Point of Work. It has to be a collaborative venture. That takes an organizational step-change that includes L&D and shifts a cultural mandate to enable sustained workforce capability. Thanks for reading and offering your thoughts and a great question. Take good care!

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