The Big Picture

In some situations, it is easy for organizations and professionals to lose focus on the bigger human performance or training picture in their business. Articles come out promoting the next trends in learning, like “m-learning,” social media, etc. Conferences and expos celebrate creative solutions. Vendors show off nifty interactions and interfaces. All that sounds like a lot more fun than building capability or improving the throughput of a process.

Except, in the context of the business it is serving, learning is really a support function. There is only one reason a business should be training employees and that is to build capability so employees can perform their tasks. And quite often, basic is just as effective as cutting edge (or even more so) and can be deployed faster. Sure it would be fun to make a computer animation and embed it into a web-based program. But it might get the job done if you just shot a video using readily available equipment and posted it imperfectly where people people can find it.  Or even if you had good diagrams showing key steps in the process. The 80% solution right away is often preferable to the 100% solution much later (and after spending much more money).

Keeping a focus on employee capability and work process improvement and away from technology and media requires working on the big picture and not getting trapped in the smaller picture.


Analysis and Architecture

The first key to avoid getting trapped in the small picture is understanding the work and then designing an architecture for solutions.

Understanding the work means figuring out roles, work outputs, criteria, and the process steps/tasks performed by those roles. It means understanding where errors are likely to occur, where tools exist (or could exist) to address those areas. It means understanding the knowledge, skills, and even traits needed to perform.

Another level to understanding the work is how it is allocated between various employees in the roles that perform it. Knowing what experienced performers do vs. less experienced performers. Knowing the previous roles (and likely incoming skills) new people bring into the role and how to address the gaps through coaching, training, and information. Figuring out solutions to ensure that the work gets done correctly over time, as employees enter and leave the job and as products and processes change. Development paths. Career paths.

Finally, you need an architecture for the solutions you will provide. If you are providing classroom or instructor-led training, what materials will be provided, how will they be kept current, how will you know the instructor is delivering the same course that was developed? Even better, can you track content at a granular enough level to find things that already exist and re-use them in future programs? Is there sufficient logic and rationale in your solution set that employees and supervisors can start from what they need and find what they are looking for quickly and accurately? Does the media fit the delivery requirements or are you forcing web-based training on people to save travel costs…even though they don’t bother to complete the training because there are too many distractions on the job?

The bigger picture is systematically building and sustaining capability. That is the way to truly become a business partner, instead of merely a training specialist.

Leave a Reply