Learnlets
Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

3 May 2011

On Competencies and Compliance

Clark @ 6:12 am

While my colleagues in the ITA and I are railing against the LMS as a complete solution for organizational performance (and the vendors rally back with their move beyond course management with social and portal capabilities, to be fair), one overriding cry is heard: “but we have to do compliance!”  And, yes, they do. But that umbrella covers a multitude of sins as well as some real importance.

So, for the record, I acknowledge that I want procedures followed when lives are on the line and other cases where it’s important.  Yes, I do want oil well procedures followed, ethics in financial transactions, careful scrutiny of pharmaceutical research, harassment-free workplaces, and more.   I like that there are procedures for pre-flight safety, medical sanitation, etc.  So don’t get me wrong.

What I am concerned about, however, are two things.  For one, as I see the effectiveness of classes ranging from very practical guidance to ridiculously useless knowledge tests.  Let’s be clear, telling someone about something and having them recite back the knowledge isn’t going to lead to meaningful change in behavior.  An expert in emotional intelligence told me that most of the workplace bullying interventions are worthless, as the person responds appropriately to the information on a post-class test, but then goes back to the workplace and continues to misbehave.  That’s a waste of time and money.

For another, the criteria are often knowledge based, not performance-based.  We can make meaningful tests, either computer-administered (simulations), or real performance.  What doesn’t work are knowledge tests.  And LMSs don’t care what the form of assessment is, if it can be recorded.

What we should be looking for are competency assessments, based upon real performance, not knowledge test.  Certainly, pilots have to perform appropriately, as do surgeons. They are measured by real performance.   It’s not about courses.  If they can’t perform, then there are knowledge resources, whatever might be helpful, but it’s not like they have to take a course, unless they want to.

And the standards change over time as new procedures and tools come in.  BTW, how does that adaptation happen?  Not by one person decreeing it so, but panels of experts coming up with new proposals, testing, and refinement.  A social process, with criteria of their own about acceptable standards.  And not measured by seat time, poundage, or any thing other than the ability to reliably demonstrate capability.

Now I’m going to sound far-fetched here, but in the long term, I see communities developing the criteria and competencies collaboratively, and the assessment mechanisms as well.  The tools will exist for communities to pass up ideas, for experts to review and revise the criteria, and for the process to be transparent to governmental and public scrutiny.  We need better and more meaningful competency development and testing.  That’s what I’d like us all to comply with.

4 Comments

  1. Love your post. So much of compliance training is about “gotcha” – the companies want to be able to prove that the individual is at fault if an error happens. If we could move past the “who are we gonna blame” mentality, things would certainly get better from a learning perspective.

    Comment by Lisa — 3 May 2011 @ 7:49 am

  2. […] “That’s a waste of time and money. For another, the criteria are often knowledge based, not performance-based.  We can make meaningful tests, either computer-administered (simulations), or real performance.  What doesn’t work are knowledge tests.  And LMSs don’t care what the form of assessment is, if it can be recorded. What we should be looking for are competency assessments, based upon real performance, not knowledge test.” Clark Quinn, Learnlets, 3. Mai 2011 […]

    Pingback by On Competencies and Compliance | weiterbildungsblog — 6 May 2011 @ 7:55 am

  3. “Soft” compliance training (by which I mean areas like EEO or freedom from harassment, rather than ISO- or FDA-mandated compliance) is often characterized by sermonizing. “Discrimination is bad” may be true, but doesn’t get anyone very far.

    A GE colleague designed her organization’s non-discrimination training this way: “We need the best talent we can find. Some workplace behaviors are illegal; we’ll show you what they are. Some other behaviors aren’t illegal but still hamper us from hiring and retaining the best talent we can. We’ll talk about what those are, We want you clear on what the company and your coworkers expect, and we’ll give you resources to turn to if you have questions.”

    Yes, it was face-to-face, but nobody had to sit through yet another showing of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Elliott&quot;)Jane Elliott's experiment with third graders in 1968. In part it was face-to-face because at that time, that was how the company emphasized the importance of certain messages like quarterly results and mergers.

    For the average corporate employee, it’s much more important to recognize that certain workplace conditions adversely affect someone’s ability to perform on the job, than to know the date of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Comment by Dave Ferguson — 8 May 2011 @ 6:05 am

  4. […] On Competencies and Compliance- Clark Quinn, May 3, 2011 […]

    Pingback by Internet Time Blog : Top 50 Posts on Working Smarter for May 2011 — 10 February 2013 @ 9:36 am

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