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What Are You Measuring?

Posted by Bill Crose on September 13, 2019 at 11:33am 1 Comment

A lifetime ago, my training department colleagues and I were satisfied with training data. We cranked out the requested ILT programs plus the "flavor of the year" content, we kept a busy training schedule, and made sure the coffee was always the right temperature. When accused of not delivering effective training because the learners didn't perform as they were trained, we took refuge in our management support role and not ultimately responsible or accountable for LEARNING or productivity.…



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GLN TeachAbout - Performance Assurance - Bill Crose - February 16, 2022


Expert: Bill Crose

Topic: GLN TeachAbout - Performance Assurance (Bill Crose)
Time: Feb 16, 2022 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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  • Cost of people increasing
  • Cost of mistakes/liability increasing
  • Cost of technology decreasing

Every day the potential to automate processes expands – how do we assure we are paying attention to this (this is a subset or perhaps cousin of digital transformation.)

And not just for the people we are training - but perhaps for the teaching, developing of content and all other traditional L&D functions...

Will software "eat the world" of training?

August 20, 2011 - "Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation." Marc Andreessen

Innovation and change are accelerating. The US Patent Office granted 51,000 patents in 1979 and 391,000 in 2019. At that rate there could be 40 MILLION patents granted over the next 40 years. Each of those patents represents a potential new product, service, or process we've never dreamed of and workers will need to first create the processes associated with each, then repeatedly perform them until the work can be automated. This spells big changes in the training/learning industry because memorization will lose its effectiveness. We need shift our goals from learning to performance. We need to focus on how to enable, assure, and continuously improve performance, not learning, or productivity will stall. 

Bill - knowing that we need to change is the "easy" part (and we know how hard it really is.) Knowing what to do i is relatively easy compared to doing it and then getting the desired results is quite hard. Finally - proving that what we did was the reason for the results is the hardest (if not impossible) because it may take years to find out.

Might we shift our focus from describing a problem and claiming to have a solution - to focusing on solving a problem - and then letting others ask us how we did it?

This panel discussion at Georgia LEARNS 2018 was intended to expand the conversation related to performance assurance -

  • What would be more valuable to you - Automobile Assurance or Automobile Insurance?
  • Would you pay more for Automobile Assurance than Automobile Insurance?
  • What would be more profitable for the provider? - Insurance or Assurance?

Thanks all who joined the conversation! Some notes about performance assurance:

* An assurance is the promise of positive results. Who doesn't want assurance?? Training cannot assure performance. In fact, up to 60% of all training is forgotten within 60 minutes of training. However, a system that verbally delivers step-by-step instructions in moments of need (when performing a new process, when a process changes, etc) can assure performance and when repeatedly performed over time, can be learned.  

* Yes, manual work is tedious and boring and whether you use traditional training or a performance assurance system, the goal is to enable workers to produce or deliver a perfect product or service. Quality means little to no variance and to achieve that, every step of every process must be performed perfectly every time. Can training do that? Of course not. But verbally delivering step-by-step instructions as people work can. So, the bottom line is, do you want to be sure every oil plug is replaced after every oil change, every pharmaceutical included the proper amount of every ingredient, every patient was checked for allergies, every part of every automobile is of perfect quality or not? If yes, then a boring performance assurance system is the way to do it and training is not. 

* Yes! Performance enablement is of higher value than training; you can take a 3 hour training class and still not be able to perform or you can follow step-by-step instructions to immediately perform a process. With spaced repetition and step-by-step instructions you can memorize "learnable" processes and perform them without support. Beware of training programs designed to train unlearnable workflows, which are those with too many steps (remember the 7+ or -2 rule), steps that change too often, and those performed too infrequently, as well as training more workflows than can be memorized in the allotted time. Verbally delivering step-by-step instructions as people who work with their hands both enables and assures performance.

* Yes! It's all about the data. Every employee's job from CEO to front line includes continuously improving performance. Effectively and efficiently deciding how to improve performance requires valid, unbiased, reliable performance data that cannot be captured via observation. You need to capture the time workers spend on each process step they perform, then compare that performance interval with other performers and locations to reveal both worker and non-worker performance improvement opportunities. Not every performance problem is caused by workers and training programs won't fix problems including process errors, lack of or broken equipment, poor staffing, inappropriate compensation... If you're working in a learning organization, then your only option is to use "Maslow's Hammer". Few performance problems are fixed with training alone. Furthermore, if your business does not have a performance organization or otherwise uses vendors/service providers, you can share your performance data and feedback to your provider and get better service. All HR activities are legally bound to using valid, unbiased, reliable performance data. A business operating on anything else is liable to lose any performance-related lawsuits. Data is golden in many ways!

* Performance enablement and performance assurance systems may be used to reduce, bypass, or support learning/training. Learning may require visuals more often than performance. Think about a water heater installer who needs visuals to see how every part of a water heater fits together. After the initial, visuals are rarely needed but step-by-step instructions can assure every step is completed, the water heater is properly installed, and a return visit to fix a problem will be highly unlikely.   

* Learning style theory says people are primarily visual, audible, or kinesthetic learners; not all 3 at once. That and many other theories have never been proven or have been debunked over the years. What research has proven to improve memory/learning are mnemonic devices and spaced repetition. In fact, few things are learned without spaced repetition. Practice is often removed from training designs and designers are told that managers will provide the practice while on the job. Unfortunately, up to 60% of all training is forgotten within 60 minutes of completing a class and up to 90% is forgotten within a week unless space practice is provided. When the first practice opportunity is within 24 hours of the training, subsequent practice intervals may be reduced. 

* Performance can be enabled and assured by people with certain disabilities including vision, memory, and attention. Training cannot enable or assure people with certain disabilities to perform step-by-step processes.

Let's keep talking!



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