Action mapping competencies

What does an action mapper need to do? Here’s a list of the main competencies, plus an indication of which workshop addresses each one.

o = Addressed at a high level
X = Discussed more in depth with examples, practice, or worksheets
yellow = Might be new or challenging for conventionally trained instructional designers

  Action mapping overview
60 min.
Jedi mind tricks
60 min.
Make learners think!
60 min.
Action mapping in depth
4 weeks
Scenario design
4 weeks


Client management, problem analysis

1.1Make sure the client is the person who feels the pain of the performance problem. If necessary, find the true client.XX
1.2Help the client understand why you won't design training without first examining the performance problem. Help them see how they benefit.oXXo
1.3Help stakeholders shift their focus from transmitting knowledge to changing behavior.oXXo
1.4Help stakeholders see the benefits of using research-informed methods rather than catering to learning styles or other myths. This includes questioning projects that teach pseudoscientific techniques for management, sales,
1.5Independently research the performance problem to see how it could be measured and how other organizations have solved it.XXo
In consultation with the client, SME, learners, and other stakeholders:
1.6Identify a specific, measurable goal that shows how the project will improve the performance of the organization.oXXo
1.7Identify the specific group of people who need to change what they do to meet the goal.oXo
1.8List in specific, concrete terms the tasks and decisions those people need to perform on the job to meet the goal.oXo
1.9Identify the major barriers to performance of the high-priority tasks, looking at each task individually.oXo
1.10Confirm through this analysis that the original target group for the project is the correct group. Change the audience and focus if necessary.oXo


Non-training solutions

2.1Brainstorm efficient non-training solutions to performance barriers, such as improving tools and processes, providing job aids, and helping people share information.oXo
2.2Help the client identify who should be responsible for creating the non-training solutions.
2.3Design or oversee the design of job aids that provide just the needed information at the best time and in the best format.o


Training design

3.1Based on the above analysis, design only the necessary amount and type of training to support the required behaviors. This includes telling the client when training is not the solution.ooXo
3.2When training is part of the solution, design activities that help people practice doing what they need to do on the job.ooXXX
3.3Choose the best type of activity for the nature of the task, such as decision-making scenarios for situations that require judgment and simpler activities for simpler tasks.XX
3.4Design knowledge-memorization exercises only when your analysis shows that the knowledge is necessary for the task, performers currently don't have that knowledge, and the information can’t be looked up before or during the task.oXX
3.5Let learners’ needs and the nature of the tasks and content determine the format of the material (online, printed, etc.).XX
3.6In decision-making activities, provide challenging options that represent the common mistakes being made on the job. Work closely with the SME to get the necessary insight.ooXX
3.7When a learner chooses an option in a decision-making activity, show the realistic, specific consequence of that option. If instructive feedback is also necessary, provide it after the consequence.oXXX
3.8If learners might need information to make a decision in an activity, let them pull what they need when they need it. Don't assume all learners are equally ignorant. ooXXX
3.9When knowledge memorization is required, design spaced retrieval practice that adapts to each learner's weaknesses and strengths.oo
3.10Create an informal prototype of a typical activity and refine that with stakeholders and learners before designing more activities.XX
3.11Avoid providing activities as a one-time event. Look for ways to embed them in the job, make them available on demand, and space them over time.ooXXX
3.12Use scaffolding to challenge learners without overwhelming or frustrating them.XXX
3.13Let people who have demonstrated mastery move on to material that will challenge them.XXX
3.14Let learners control the pace of the material as much as possible.XXX
3.15Write all text at a Flesch Reading Ease score of 60 or more or its equivalent.oo
3.16In decision-making scenarios, write realistic, efficient dialog that moves the story forward.o
3.17When producing materials, choose only the media that will help the learner succeed. Resist pressure to add distracting media or effects.oX



4.1Design a live training event only when your analysis shows that a live event is the best format for the problem, activities, and learners.oo
4.2Look for ways to space live events over time or otherwise provide spaced practice.XX
4.3Emphasize realistic practice and discussion over information presentation.oX
4.4In a webinar, use a platform that offers a public, open chat and encourage discussion throughout the session, not just at the end.


Project management, continuous improvement

5.1Early in the process, create a project charter that outlines the project at a high level, includes the prototype activity, and addresses other high-level decisions, such as non-training solutions and look and feel of activities. Get approval for this before designing more activities or solutions.oo
5.2Use the most efficient format to write activities for review. This might be an informal text document rather than a multi-column script.XX
5.3Design and review activities in batches so you can easily change direction and incorporate new ideas.oo
5.4When the solutions are in place, collect information about people’s use of the materials, from engagement statistics to reports of its effectiveness on the job. Report that to the stakeholders as both data and individual user stories.oo
5.5When the solutions have been in place long enough to possibly have an effect on the original goal, work with the client to look for changes in that measure.oooo
5.6Improve and adapt the solutions as necessary to improve
5.7Periodically identify the tools currently being used in the organization for information sharing and consider ways to leverage them.
5.8Periodically review products and methods used in marketing, user experience design, behavioral economics, communications, interactive fiction, and gaming. Look for tools and techniques that could improve results.o