We recently interviewed L&D professional Jo Buuts from Learning2Perform.nl, an enthusiastic and very experienced training expert and designer, who advises many organizations on learning solutions and design those solutions. Just like Jo, we believe that performance improvement should be the starting point of an L&D project. As an L&D expert with 40 years of experience, we asked Mr. Buuts a number of questions about how you can let Performance Improvement and innovation play a leading role in developing learning interventions. (image: https://learning2perform.nl/)

You indicate in your blogs that Performance Improvement is more than just the icing on the cake in learning processes. What is needed to realize this change?

“That requires a whole new mindset of L&D professionals in organizations. I will give you an example; Every professional – including the L&D professional – has a mental model of his field, your personal reality of how things work in your field. Compare the mental model with a map of an area that you pass through: forests, hills, rivers. You need the map to then determine your route, how do you tackle certain situations and problems? That is your cognitive strategy.

If you really want to work on Performance improvement, your navigation system needs an upgrade; You cannot drive through Morocco with a map of Europe. So in order to be able to draw new routes and come up with new strategies, you need a new mental model, a different map. “


How to translate this to Learning & Development?

“The mental model of L&D is aimed at delivering well-organized learning processes with well-defined learning outcomes. That is the area in which we move, that is what we do. Our cognitive strategy – how do we get from A to B within that area – consists of careful task- and training analyses, learning objectives, content, learning resources, and knowledge and skill tests.Together with operational managers and the employees themselves you draw new routes where work support is the starting point. This will lead to the discovery of critical points in the workflow and how the best way to support employees. 

Organizations often think that it takes extra time to add Performance Support tools to a learning program. How do you ensure that Performance Support becomes the starting point and is not seen as an optional “extra”?

“That’s where things go wrong. Performance Support is anything but the icing on the “learning cake”. If you continue to see traditional training as the starting point for Performance Improvement, you’re missing the point: supporting the performance itself! It is really a matter of doing and just trying! I shall give another example:

Take a performance problem and start designing one or more training courses or e-learnings. Maybe you proceed like this (from a how-to-learn perspective!):

  • Analysing tasks of which you believe that the implementation requires improvement in order to solve the assumed problem.
  • Identifying skills and knowledge required for performing tasks correctly.
  • Determining a sequence in which training for those tasks must occur and when knowledge must be transferred.
  • Determining didactics: online / offline, methodology, available time etc.
  • Create the training.

Oh yes …. support while actually working: Performance Support. Umm…. we’ll just create an app with reminders from the training! Eureka! The icing on the cake.

When you truly take Performance Improvement seriously, you can improve your work (from a Performance Improvement perspective):

  • Analyse the process with performance problems together with those responsible for carrying out the process.
  • Find out where things go wrong and where better/more support is needed.
  • Identify critical tasks that require additional training prior to work support.
  • Determine with the performers which kind of on-the-job support is most effective and desired.
  • Design, develop, and program the necessary Performance Support and the additional training moments.

The mental model that you use for designing and developing learning processes does not lead to effective Performance Support. You simply cannot succeed because the route to Performance Improvement is “not on the map”.

While the other way around, with a mental model for designing performance support, the training courses that you design will always lead to effective support at work. And therefore to Performance Improvement! “

Thank you for your insights! With GPAL we also give learning in the workplace a leading role in improving and innovating learning development. Do you have any other additional tips to use Performance Support as a starting point?

The 5 Moments of Needs methodology offers guidance for using performance as a starting point from the outset. This way L&D actually adds value to the business by working on Performance Improvement and contributing to the realization of business objectives. 5 Moments of Need starts with splitting the work process up into concrete tasks and steps as they are performed by experts in practice. Then, together with the experts, the kind of support and knowledge needed is determined. That is the starting point. From there, the impact of the tasks and steps is assessed. For tasks that would have a catastrophic effect on the work process or the organization in the event of failure or incorrect implementation, traditional interventions such as training courses are designed. Additionally, those tasks are also included in Performance Support. This keeps the focus on performance, while at other times training is also used if it is deemed necessary and effective. Result: an optimal blend with the focus on Performance Improvement! “

You can find more information about how you can use GPAL for Performance Improvement on our website, or we can tell you all about it during a demonstration at your location!

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