The Five Moments of Learning Need: Evolving Training into the Perfect Hole

Editor’s Note: Gary Wise of Myca Multimedia, a new seller in the marketplace, graciously allowed us to share this excerpt of a longer essay on the evolving role of training in the workplace. For Gary’s complete post, visit his blog. And don’t forget to check out Myca Multimedia’s excellent compliance and diversity courses

Figure 1A colleague recently asked me to respond to a question that has been a source of constant challenge [for me at least] in my last three corporate training gigs that span about 15 years or so: “What’s the biggest hurdle to getting stakeholders (employees, employers, clients etc.) involved and engaged with workplace training – and how do you overcome it?

Personally, I believe this question distracts us from two other questions we really need to answer first…and with conviction. I believe that answering these two questions will define an actionable road map to not only answer his original question, but do something about it…and with conviction.

1st Question:   How do we overcome the current training [paradigm]?

Yeah, I know, the word paradigm is just a wee bit overused, so feel free to insert something else. Truthfully, we [Corporate Training] have promoted a way of thinking and doing for years, and our stakeholders, be they internal business unit leaders or external clients, have fallen into line and walk the same parade route year after year with us. In other words, we are all as guilty as we are comfortable with the status quo…and it is failing us.

We have put ourselves squarely in front of this parade [this dilemma] by having effectively sold a concept to our business stakeholders that training improves performance. We have done so for years, and a lot of internal and external clients bought it. What we should be selling to our stakeholders is something much more robust that [insert new paradigm here] enables both workforce agility, performer capability @ the point of work and produces sustainable, tangible business outcomes. My point is not that traditional training and LMSs are the wrong things to do; rather, they are simply not enough. They are severely under-scoped.

And yet we have managed to leverage that promise of improved performance to gain funding for huge investments in technology, the most famous being the Learning Management System (LMS). I know this as fact, because I have done so myself…and more than once. There is no doubt that this approach we doggedly pursue effectively deploys learning opportunities in the form of training.  What this approach does NOT effectively do is implement learning. And that single fact is cornerstone upon which we have built our current paradigm. Training is a deployment function. Implementation is an integration function. The resistance to embrace this gap seems locked down – locked down because we are doing enough things right in our current [and comfortable] scope and charter so that there is little momentum to expand beyond those limits to include implementation.

Implementation happens through integration and application of knowledge and skills @ the point of work, and @ the point of work is where we find a catalyst that is a key driver behind the changing rules of engagement – Learning Moments of Need.

These five moments were defined by Dr. Conrad Gottfredson of BYU a few years ago, and I must confess that they have been the most significant nuggets of learning I can recall acquiring in many years. The first two moments of need – the 5% or so of the 2080-hour work year where the workforce is engaged in some form of formal learning [training] – represent the domain where we have demonstrated our collective training excellence. What about the work context – the other 95% of the work-year where performers are @ the point of work?

What about those critical learning moments of need occurring downstream in the post-training work context? This downstream, post-training domain represents ground zero where the workforce is engaged in real workflows and their performance ties directly to the very real potential to create tangible business value…or lose it. Close real sales…or lose them. Resolve customer complaints and retain their business…or lose it. Eliminate the generation of material waste…or create it. Avoid business risks and corporate liability…or cause it.

If we consider the composite of this “pie chart”, we see a visual representation our entire corporate learning environment, not just the slice we dominate. Keep that mental image in mind and consider the gravity of this question, “Which slice of the pie gets the greater attention from training?” Josh Bersin, of Bersin & Associates, shared in a panel discuss, “The Future of the Business of Learning”, on July 23, 2009, that on the average businesses are spending up to 80% of their training resources on the 5% slice of the pie. What then is left over for ground zero?

Second Question: How do we best position training’s value proposition?

Clearly, the rules of engagement around corporate learning are changing. Rising to the challenge will not only evolve the paradigm, it will take steps toward establishing a new value proposition for Corporate Learning. Do not expect that to happen overnight. To position value, you first need tangible evidence of value so that whatever you are positioning has value in the eyes of those whom you are courting. To capture this evidence, Training often needs to go to places where they are least comfortable. To survive and thrive in these places, one may need new skills – not in lieu of ones already in hand, but new skills that shine a new light on old methods. Here is a radical thought – try dropping the “T” word from your lexicon and step away from training speak and begin to use the language of your stakeholders. They live @ the point of work, and they care a great deal about sustainable performance outcomes, workforce capacity, and workforce agility. These terms and phrases are not just jargon to your stakeholders. Seriously, stick with me for a few more minutes, and I will show you how supporting continuous learning in an ecosystem plays right into these kinds of outcomes.

For the full post, please visit Gary Wise’s blog.

Gary Wise has been the Chief Learning Architect at MYCA Multimedia and Training Solutions since October 2010, and remains as Principal of Human Performance Outfitters LLC, a workplace learning and performance consultancy he founded in 2004. Wise spent nearly four years as the Senior Director of Learning Architecture at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and, before that, three years as the Director of Sales Training at Roche Diagnostics Corporation. Wise earned his BBA in Marketing from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Connect with Gary on LinkedIn or on Twitter at @Gdogwise.