Yesterday I jumped into a post by @BobMosher at his request along with a number of other professionals I admire and respect. The nature of the post was a lament regarding the difficulty of breaking through the long-held traditions of L&D’s default to training solutions to boost learning and performance. Several comments likened the effort to pushing a boulder up hill for years with only limited success. Here is a thought I offered in a separate post late yesterday afternoon…
“When it seems like we’re pushing a stone uphill over and over…maybe we should stop…leave the stone where it is… go up to the top (of the organization) and confirm if a stone like we’ve been pushing for years is even needed. We must change the conversation if new thinking will ever emerge. More specifically, enable a strategic re-think…to drive our efforts to enabling and sustaining measurable performance results in the workflow and multiple Points-of-Work.”
Four years ago I re-ordered Bob’s Five Moments of Need from the original 1-2-3-4-5 to 3-4-5-1-2…not to break-up the linearity of learning development, but to emphasize the significance of moment 3 – APPLY as the starting point for mapping a design solution that may or may not include training. I have advocated that Training Drives Performance is a myth for years. In reality moments 1 (NEW) and 2 (MORE) can only contribute to POTENTIAL. No measurable impact manifest until the learner moves to 3 (APPLY) overcomes 4 (SOLVE) and is agile and responsive to 5 (CHANGE) in their workflows and multiple Points-of-Work; only then are measurable results possible.
That is a key understanding that should be embraced by the senior-most positions within the organization. To that end, in July of 2020, I posted “CEO For a Day” and suggested what I envisioned needs to change at the top to foment a shift in strategic thinking.
I suggested a new C-level role – “Chief Capability Officer (CCO).” Place the CCO over the “Office of Workforce Capability (OWC)” staffed with a hit squad of Performance Improvement Consultants collaborating directly with Operational stakeholders. Also, we should position the CCO/OWC outside of the HR/LD stack in a liaison role among the other C-level positions. This is critical because rarely does any performance issue congregate under a single C-level domain. This is true because we are dealing holistically within a dynamic Learning Performance Ecosystem.
The CCO could be dotted line alignment to COO and CLO; however, it is important to not be under the HR stack where most of the resistance to change resides. We need to be aligned directly to those domains where performance is tied to organizational value creation and sustainment. Skin in the game makes the best partner as I see it. That environment makes for fertile ground for a changed conversation sparked by Assessing the Point-of-Work.
Training remains – the stone – further down the hill…where they can still do what they are chartered to do. The difference is the new output from the CCO/OWC serves as a feeder system to funnel legitimate, validated training and performance support opportunities to the LD factory to design and deliver. We cannot continue to push the Training Stone to the top where the myth justifies the effort. Leave the stone where it is and leverage its capabilities with validated and verified opportunities for training and performance support to effectively address the moment of APPLY, SOLVE, and CHANGE.
Another difference points to the re-ordering I shared at the Guild conference four years ago – take the assets design for workflow insertion and build around them to satisfy NEW and MORE. We need this for those not yet in a workflow with role expectations of performance. Plus, those assets create a thread of continuity for the eventual transition from a safe place to fail (during training) and Points-of-Work where mistake in the workflow are tied directly to hard dollars.
Beyond Training and Performance Support in the workflow, we should be equipped for the balance of the ecosystem dynamics that has little to nothing to do with learning. The CCO/OWC can parse out those non-training solutions to engage with performance improvement professionals like Six Sigma or the specializations of HR-OD, or wherever other corporate entity can provide the resources to design solutions exist. Different compensation plans? Improved marketing collateral? Better aligned performance analytics? Different technology to enable resource availability into workflows in moments of need? Just to name a few noting most have no real training directive. Instead they are guided by a different conversation where the question answered is simply “WHY is performance not optimized?”
The CCO/OWC is not tasked to design training…though that may be part of a roadmap if relevant. Their job is to assess the Points-of-Work where performance issues exist and find out WHY they exist – WHO is involved – WHAT resources and information is lacking, not current or ineffectively designed for immediate application – WHEN do these challenges exist – HOW often – What is the cost to the organization – WHICH systems are not being fully utilized and are not even available. WHAT analytics are being tracked that do not tell the whole performance story – WHICH analytics should be added and tracked?
If we genuinely want to drive performance, we need to change the thinking at the top of the organization and then enable the behaviors of those who can affect effective real-time solutions. In other words, forget the Stone. Stop pushing it up the hill. Go to the top and embed new thinking and a new performance -oriented conversation and then start pushing the down the hill where the Stone we left behind can survive and thrive on meaningful performance-focused information.
As always, I welcome any conversation and your comments!
Gary G. Wise