By Cathy Moore
We, the downtrodden and ignored learning and development professionals of the world, hereby shake off the shackles of convention and obedience and proclaim the arrival of a new order, a new age of enlightenment in which we valiantly defend truth, honor, and our learners by… well, by not being such pushovers.
We refuse to pretend that training is always the answer. When a client says, “We need training,” we don’t say, “Sure! Would you like fries with that?” Instead, we start asking questions.
We require clients to set a measurable goal. We help each client identify exactly how the organization’s performance is suffering and how our project will measurably, observably, provably improve that performance, because we’re here to make a difference, not to put 97,000 PowerPoint slides online.
We rejoice in the power of needs assessment. Oh needs assessment, you faithful but tragically neglected guardian of time, money, and learners’ souls, we welcome you back into our profession and with eager minds ask you for each and every project, “What do people need to do?” and “Why aren’t they doing it?”
We advocate for the rights of the humble job aid, email, and PDF. If the problem is caused by a simple lack of information, we show the client how a nimble solution placed in the workflow can avoid the expense and tragedy of a 107-slide presentation pointlessly read aloud by a talking avatar whose lips really move.
We design activities, not information. When instruction is part of the solution, we don’t preach or present to learners. Instead, we let them practice what they need to do and draw conclusions from that experience like the grownups they are, and for that reason we rock scenarios.
We stand firm in our belief that learners have brains and should be allowed to use them. We fiercely protect our learners’ time, minds, and souls from clients’ whims, information dumps, patronizing narration, “learning styles,” office politics, “motivational” training, SMEs’ favorite details, locked navigation, “awareness,” feeble multiple-choice questions, “knowledge transfer,” “knowledge checks,” academic learning objectives, flying bullet points, and alien abductions.
We are legion! Here are just a few of our noble warriors, in no order whatsoever.
- Julie Dirksen: her book Design For How People Learn and her blog
- Tom Gram’s blog, including the series on Practice and the Development of Expertise
- Dave Ferguson’s examples and analyses of job aids
- Clark Quinn: “Yes, You Do Have to Change“
- Dick Handshaw on proactive consulting
- Marc Rosenberg: “The Fall and Rise of Performance Support“
- Allison Rossett’s book Job Aids and Performance Support
- Dana Gaines Robinson and James Robinson: Performance Consulting: A Practical Guide for HR and Learning Professionals
- Will Thalheimer’s research-to-practice reports
- Ruth Clark’s work, such as Elearning and the Science of Instruction