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

5 November 2013

Performance & Development

Clark @ 6:34 AM

In thinking about how L&D needs to shift to accommodate this new day and age, I started thinking from the perspective of why the term Learning & Development (let alone Training & Development) bothered me, and it’s because I believe we need to shift from thinking about learning to think about performance.  My first take was that training and development wasn’t enough.  Even learning & development isn’t enough; we need to focus on developing individual and team skills and contributions, but where does performance support fit?

P&DAs another way to think about it, I started with the combination of Optimal Execution and Continual Innovation, and worked backwards.  I was trying to find the elements that contribute to each.  What are the components we can use technology to improve individual and group contribution to optimal execution? What can we do to similarly improve continual innovation?

For execution, we have training, performance support, performance coaching, assistance from others by cooperating, and self-designed or acquired support as part of personal knowledge management (PKM).  For innovation, we want self-development by personal knowledge management, collaboration amongst individual, mentoring to develop individuals and ideas, and education to introduce new skills ideas.  Elements of those components fall variously under formal, performance focus, or eCommunity.

Underpinning this is a culture where cooperation and collaboration can flourish.  Note that there are opportunities for support of those component skills, like developing coaching and mentoring skills, that cut across the areas, but this seemed to be a manageable way to look at it.

Going further, when I look at what contributes to execution, it ends up being about performance. When the focus is supporting innovation, we can call it development.   What we can, and should, be focusing on is both supporting performance in the moment and developing individual and team capability over time.  The skills are performance consulting, and facilitation of development and innovation.  Thus, the field, to me, is really about performance and development.

This is a first cut, and I’m willing to consider improvements. There are layers below this that are being glossed over to focus on the top level, but I really do think that we need a broader focus, and this seems to capture the way my thinking is going. So, what am I missing?



  1. Hi Clark,

    I’ve long been a believer that Culture over-rides everything else. I like this as a first pass. My brain started thinking, and as I am processing the image, two words keep popping into my head…connected nodalities.

    Let me see if I can explain in words. 4 main nodes: Optimal execution, Continual Innovation, Performance, Development. Each sitting on their “platform of focus” ie the squares above culture. And the platforms of focus sitting on Culture.

    Each of the main nodes links to small nodes back and forth. For the big connections such as Performance Support -> Performance, they would have a bigger line. Make sense?

    Comment by Tricia — 5 November 2013 @ 10:27 AM

  2. Clark:

    I like this first cut and for the most part I agree with the general framework. One thing that does stand out is the small element of “performance focus”. Are you potentially limiting its scope by where you have it positioned? My gut tells me that performance has a role across your spectrum, almost like an inner wrapper to culture.

    Just my $0.02.


    Comment by Mark L. Sheppard — 5 November 2013 @ 10:32 AM

  3. Thanks for the feedback!

    Tricia, I do see performance focus more on the execution side, and I wasn’t indicating any priorities by line size, though could.

    To Mark’s point, I’m not doing something I could, by using either size of shape or line size to prioritize. I definitely think performance support it big, though social is even bigger in the long term to me. I think I *am* separating out performance support as that bit developed by the P&D department as opposed to by the communities themselves (which doesn’t quite emerge: PKM is when you create your own resources, but sharing them comes under cooperation I think).

    Very helpful!

    Comment by Clark — 5 November 2013 @ 2:42 PM

  4. Well-formed categories and diagram. I wonder, how could you represent the new developments come out of performance support activities (the execution side)?
    In other words, while we are attempting to achieve optimal execution, new innovations are discovered – how to represent these?

    Also, I think community should be a large theme tied directly to “Performance.” Without true community, very little can be achieved.


    Comment by Jessica — 6 November 2013 @ 7:09 AM

  5. Clark, I like the distinction you make between development and performance as well as the shift from a focus on the means (leaning) to the end (performance). Just one question – many people still think of themselves as working in training rather than in learning. How would you shift their perception to focus on the ends rather than the means?

    Comment by Ara Ohanian — 8 November 2013 @ 2:08 AM

  6. Clark: as ever, you’ve got me thinking. Like your premise of performance in the moment vs. team capability over time. Thinking it’s more personal performance in the moment vs. team performance over time and the different types of learning it takes to provoke both, simultaneously. Part of the trick in this is finding ways to detect how practices are affecting performance. Also, the feedback loops required to both provoke and accelerate learned ‘small moves’ that are improving personal performance and provoking team performance. Trust this adds some value. – John

    Comment by John Cousineau — 9 November 2013 @ 8:09 AM

  7. At the end of the day ‘performance’ (or behavior) trumps ‘knowledge’. No where is this more obvious than in China, where the kids are the smartest in the world, but who are incredibly inefficient and idealistic. They almost have a romantic view of the business world when they enter the workforce. Therefore, your ‘performance and development’ is very much needed in China.

    Comment by Morry Morgan — 4 December 2013 @ 7:32 PM

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