I don’t care what you know: Do it!

7 May

I want to return to a subject that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago in a previous post. As Instructional Designers and e-learning professionals we spend a lot of time and energy ensuring that our products support learning objectives. Even if we don’t do a formal assessment, we have ways to measure our design to their  outcomes (or at least we should!).

In order to develop good learning objectives (time and budget allowing), IDs will spend good time and effort doing task analysis and mapping each discrete task to specific learning objectives. We want to discover: What does the learner need to know, and need to do, in order to improve performance. Armed with good analysis of what the learner needs are, off we go creating our great e-learning courses.

But that only takes us part of the way. Our trade is human performance in business, isn’t it? (And yes, non-profits and educational institutions are businesses for this discussion, too.) I don’t want to get too deep into the heuristic weeds here, but shouldn’t we be less concerned with what learners know and what they can do, and a whole lot more concerned with what they actually do?

This is often where the disconnect between the business side of things and the training/ID side reveals itself. We sit at the table with managers and decision makers – the folks who live and die by financial data and KPI (key performance indicators). It is not that they don’t see value in professional development and a well-trained workforce.

Again, here is the kernel: Good organizational leaders ultimately don’t care what their people know or can do. They care deeply, however, what they do.

We need to be able to speak the language of business. We need to explain that we are not training people to know how to do something, we are training them to do it! It seems simple, but it is anything but. The leap between knowing and doing –delivering performance support that people will actually apply—is the secret sauce that good trainers, IDs and CLOs struggle with everyday.

It begins with an attitude shift: We are business partners in our organizations. We need to speak the language of business in ways that make sense to our partners (KPI). We need to prove that we are changing what people actually do. We are coaches, learning consultants, and ultimately performance consultants.

Train and design great instruction, yes! But also work to ensure the knowledge transfer that will move your business forward. I’d love to hear from folks with success stories on how they accomplished this. I’ll pick up this thread in another post soon.

One Response to “I don’t care what you know: Do it!”


  1. When is training the answer? (hint: never) | In the Learning Age - May 8, 2013

    […] that training in isolation may lead to knowledge. Knowledge is good, no question about it. But as I discussed in my last post and elsewhere, knowledge doesn’t do anything. Good is good for nothing in the workplace. Skills, […]

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