Action mapping workflow at a glance

"We need training."

How to use action mapping
to solve performance problems


What's your goal?

How will the organization benefit?

What's your goal?

What are you measuring that shows the problem?
How would you like it to change?

A measure we already use will increase/decrease X% by date as people in a specific group DO something

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What do they need to DO?

List & prioritize actions people must take on the job to reach the goal

What do they need to DO?

List observable actions. Examples:

"Ask the employee open-ended questions to..."

"Correctly determine the client's eligibility for..."


"Describe the process to..." or:

define - understand - appreciate

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What makes it difficult?

Environment? Knowledge? Skill? Motivation?

What makes it difficult?

Use this flowchart to identify the barriers to good performance.

Will training help flowchart


What changes will help?

Brainstorm all changes, not just training

What changes will help?


Streamline the procedure
Create a how-to guide (job aid)
Rewrite the policy so it’s easy to understand
Give people better tools
Upskill their managers


Is training part of the solution?

Will practice activities help?

Is training part of the solution?

Your analysis shows that people need to practice decisions or tasks.

You'll create practice activities.
You could package them as a course, but there are more flexible approaches.
You'll also include changes identified in step 4.

You’ll just make the changes identified in step 4.

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Brainstorm activity ideas

For actions that need practice

Brainstorm activity ideas

Write high-level ideas (not scripts) for practice activities. Focus on what people need to do, not what they might need to know.

“A customer wants to use their widget at high altitudes. You have to ask them questions to identify the best widget."

Not: "At which altitude should a customer use the AltaWidget?"

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Prototype one activity

Don't include bling

Prototype one activity

With your SME’s help, write one functional activity. It could be for a live session, elearning, or any other format.

Show how it will work, but not exactly how it will look.

Let learners pull information as they need it during the activity. Don't assume everyone is equally ignorant.

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Approve the prototype

Show it to learners as well as stakeholders

Approve the prototype

Show it to:

A small group of learners

The client and SME

Focus the discussion on how it works and whether it's challenging and useful.


Outline all solutions

Summarize all solutions, not just training

Outline all solutions

Briefly outline all training and non-training ideas.

Describe practice activities at a high level (not a script).

Include the prototype activity.

Include a mood board suggesting the look & feel of produced activities.

Make clear what the SME will need to do and when.


Approve the outline

And the proposed look & feel

Approve the outline

Get approval from the client and SME.


Produce the activity

Use the final format and media

Produce the activity

Using the look & feel approved in the outline, produce the prototype as a complete activity.

Avoid using images that could distract or patronize learners.

Use only the necessary media. Audio narration probably isn't necessary.

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Approve the activity

It will serve as a model

Approve the activity

Consider showing it to learners first.

Then, when the client or SME says something like, "The learners will need..." you'll be able to say, "The learners didn't need..."


Write & produce in batches

SME reviews some while you write others

Write & produce in batches

Don't assume you need a complicated script.

Your SME has seen a produced activity. They can picture what you mean.

Keep documents as simple as possible.


Release the activities

Not necessarily as a course!

Release the activities

Alternatives to a course:

Spaced practice, e.g. small batches of activities delivered over weeks

Some activities used in live sessions + others available for self-paced practice online

Provide a bank of activities for people to use as just-in-time practice


Evaluate & improve

Are you moving toward your goal?

Evaluate & improve

Once all solutions are in place, look for progress toward your goal.

Consider using Robert Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method to identify what’s working and what isn’t.

Change your solutions as necessary to reach your goal.