It’s Time to Give Learning a Seismic Nudge (part 2)

By Conrad GottfredsonThe previous blog introduced five competencies to guide us, as a community, in a vital discussion regarding where our trends need to lead us as a profession. We suspect that this discussion will add to and adjust these five competencies, but they are Bob’s and my best effort to articulate where The 5 Moments of Need can and should take us. We are advocating that it is in the best interest of every organization to:

  1. Produce 5 Moments of Need solutions that deliver measurable organizational Impact
  2. Foster a performance mindset.
  3. Optimize learning in the workflow
  4. Establish and sustaining fully integrated 5 Moments of Need technology infrastructure
  5. Implement agile ISD practices.
As we have already mentioned, we are soliciting your collective wisdom to help us not only hone these competencies into a unified vision of where we should be going, but to also unite our efforts in fueling a seismic nudge— a nudge significant enough to forever change the course of learning development. This can only be done by first vetting these 5 competencies in light of how they could prove to be strategically relevant in our work. Here’s a first pass at describing this:

1—Producing 5 Moments of Need solutions that deliver measurable organizational Impact

The 5 Moments of Learning Need provide an overarching framework for helping employees become and remain competent in their individual and collective work. Specifically, they are the moments of:

Because a 5 Moments solution extends L&D’s reach into the workflow via an EPSS, it provides unprecedented opportunity for continuous measurement and reporting. The following figure shows some of these outcomes categorized into 5 areas.

A 5 Moments Solution extends our reach into the workflow—where we can actually measure performance. It allows us to automate the gathering of meaningful data that can readily provide insight for improving and justifying the investment an organization makes in learning and performance development. The more mature an organization is in its EPSS production capacity, the more prepared and able it is to do this.

2—Fostering a performance mindset.

On the whole, L&PD has been negligent in addressing the most critical moment in any person’s individual learning process – their moment of “Apply.”  Preparing learners for this vital moment should have always been at the heart of our efforts. This is when learners meet the realities of what they actually learned, what they didn’t learn, what they have forgotten, what they have misunderstood, the unanticipated nuances, and the challenge of a constantly changing performance landscape.Our work is to develop solutions that ensure people can perform effectively when they are called upon to act. We need to put and keep our sights squarely on the “Moment of Apply.” In the past we might have been able to ignore this vital moment and still somehow stumble on into successful performance, but the nature of the workplace today demands that we focus squarely on enabling effective performance.

What is more, today’s work environment doesn’t tolerate learners stepping out of their workflow to learn unless it is absolutely vital to do so. And the actual nature of 21st century learners is resistant to learning options that are delayed and removed from the here and now. They are self-directed, adaptive, and collaborative in their approach to learning.  These millennial learners will ultimately abandon outright our formal learning solutions if what we provide them fails to efficiently prepare them to effectively perform at their moments of “Apply, Solve, and/or Change” Why, because when facing a traditional course that fails to do this, today’s learners are predisposed to simply walk away and look elsewhere for the shortest path to effective performance.

The following table shows the difference between a traditional learning mindset and a performance mindset.  No L&PD team can hope to transform itself into a strategic necessity in their organization without fostering this mindset shift within the L&PD Team, its key stakeholders, and throughout the organization.
Learning Mindset
Performance Mindset
Our organization views training as the primary means for achieving effective on-the-job performance.
Our organization views training as just one of the means for achieving effective on-the-job performance.
We primarily focus is developing learning solutions.
We primarily focus is developing performance solutions.
Training is the default solution when there is a performance gap.
By default, we check to see if effective performance can be achieved without pulling people away from their work.
The training arm of our organization views its work through the lens of designing, producing, and implementing courseware that is aligned with business needs.
The training arm of our organization  views its work through the lens of designing, producing, and implementing solutions that drive effective performance at every changing moment.

3—Optimizing learning in the workflow

The work flow is the most effective learning environment we have.  The workflow provides:
  • Context—the reasons for learning are proximate and clear
  • Engagement—the learner is engaged at both the intrinsic (job satisfaction, sense of contribution, and feelings of success) and extrinsic (recognition, pay) levels
  • Reinforcement—learning is spaced and validated by success
  • Integration—experience unifies skills into a well-balanced set
The most effective workflow learning solutions enable learning while people are actually performing the work of the organization.  The minute people stop their work in order to learn, even if they are physically in their workflow, they are in essence stepping away from their work to learn.  This isn’t the best form of workflow learning, even if we call it “micro-learning.”  Why, because learners, after they have stopped working to learn, even momentarily, they still have to translate whatever they did learn into actual performance in their work.
With this said, small, targeted learning experiences that some call “micro-learning” or “learning-bursts” can still play a vital part in a comprehensive workflow learning strategy.  But there is so much more that we can and should do under the umbrella of “Workflow Learning.”  When 5 Moments solutions are designed with the Moment of Apply as the primary mindset, a broader, job performance-based solution emerges with significant benefits.
First: The time required for employees to stop their work to learn is, on the average, cut in half.  How?  By pushing task and supporting knowledge learning, where there is minimal consequence of failure, exclusively into the workflow.  These skill areas can be readily learned while people do their work.  This is enabled by 2-click/ 10 second guidance from a properly designed Embedded Performance Support Solution (EPSS). That EPSS, of course, needs to accommodate all 5 Moments of Need.
Second: The time required to achieve effective performance on the job is always shortened.  The extent of this “shortening” depends on instructional and environmental factors.  But here’s what you can count on: Always, the longer it takes to achieve competent performance on the job following traditional training approaches, the greater the reduction of time to effective performance when you shift to a 5 Moments of Need Support solution.
Learning and Development stands at the threshold of a magnificent opportunity.  The stars of methodology, technology, and organizational readiness are aligned like they have never been before.  We can forever change how learning is viewed and more importantly how organizations perform at the tactical level. It all begins with a shift in mindset that embraces all 5 Moments of Need, with the Moment of Apply leading the way. This mindset shift leads us properly into the workflow with solutions that enable effective performance all the time, everywhere.