A recent intersection of talks leads to an interesting issue for L&D. First, we recently talked to Guy Wallace about his recent book, The L&D Pivot Point. Then, we talked to Julie Dirksen about her new book, Talk to the Elephant. The interesting thing is that there’s some overlap between the two ideas that isn’t immediately obvious, but really important. The realization is that when we’re talking about barriers to success, thinking of one may not be enough.
So, Guy’s book is about taking a step above just thinking of course. He’s a proponent of performance improvement consulting, where you analyze the problem before you decree a course as a solution. The important recognition is that there can be multiple barriers to performance, including a lack of skills indicating a course. However, other reasons might be the wrong incentives, a lack of resources, etc. Sometimes a job aid can do better, some times neither that or a course will suffice.
Julie’s book, on the other hand, is a complement to her first book, Design for How People Learn. She recognized that even good design (what her first book did, eloquently) might not help learning stick, and looked at other barriers, such as managers extinguishing the learning. She was more focused on making the learning design succeed.
What she did, however, is provide a rich suite of potential barriers, along with solutions, and suggest that you may need to address more than one. That goes along with, and complements, Guy’s focus.
Just as you design programs that include messaging, training, support, rewards, and more, you should also ensure that you’ve analyzed all the barriers to performance. You might address learning, provide job aids, ensure incentives are aligned, prepare supervisors, and more. Addressing only a particular situation may not be sufficient. You may have several barriers, When it comes to solutions, one may not be enough. This argues (again) for rigorous analysis and a success focus, not just doing what you are comfortable with. In the long term, I reckon this is where we need to go as we move from learning to performance (and development). your thoughts?