What goes around goes around…

I sometimes think it’s interesting to take a step back, reflect on progress and to analyse some aspect of our industry. Whenever I do this however I am more often than not struck by one thing –

It’s funny how things go around.

Many years ago I recall my first inspirational training boss (There have been too few!!) was a chap called Richard Symes. He used to use this model to discuss whether training was the answer to a given situation.

click on image to enlarge

I have no idea where he got it from (but I’ll bet one of you knows :-) )

It is read from left to right and defines the steps to take when a performance discrepancy occurs.

Step 2 is “Is it a skills deficiency?” If the answer is yes then we ask “Did the person used to be able to do the task. If the answer is “NO” then training is the solution. However you may notice that this is the only place in the whole model where training is the answer.

If the person used to be able to do it but can’t now, the solution suggested is practice and feedback NOT training.

It seems to me that this was then simplified somewhat. In his book The Tao of Coaching, first published in 1996, Max Landsberg introduced us to the “Skill / Will matrix” (Page 55 in the book) and this was the lore on which many coaching conversations have taken place over recent years.

And so we move into the 21st Century where little, it seems, has changed:

click on image to enlarge

This model is taken from ““Is it a training problem?” (Grid adapted from Bozarth, J. (2008) From Analysis to Evaluation: Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Trainers. San Francisco: Pfeiffer. It appears on page 13 and as Jane says the original source for this image is unknown.

And low and behold it contains all the elements of my boss Richard’s funky flow chart.

In training as in so many other aspects of life we mistake change for improvement. I think Richard’s model is better, a little more detailed, but it goes to show that in the last 25 years we are still having to remind people with models like these that sometimes, (probably more often than we would like to admit)  – training is not the answer.

So our call to action this time is simple:

Before you start to fire up all your high powered analysis tools (ADDIE users – you know who you are) make sure you have asked the right question

“Is training the appropriate technique to fix the issue I am faced with?”

merry-go-round image by tuis
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  1. Stephen Schumann
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    The chart looks like a highbred of one in a book by Mager and Pipe, Analyzing Performance Problems: or, You Really Oughta Wanna. I found their ideas very useful in leadership training and coaching.

    • Paul
      Posted May 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant Stephen.

      I knew someone out there would know where it came from.

      Paul :-)

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