The time for change in the way we approach organizational learning is right, now!
Leaders increasingly expect their HR and Learning teams to deliver tangible value to support organizational strategy. If you speak to any senior person in your organization you will hear them reflect this view. They need action that delivers results.
On one hand most of our leaders are not particularly interested in learning per se, but on the other hand every good leader is passionate about the effective output of learning – in the form of improved individual, team and organizational performance.
Learning leaders need to embrace this fact and respond in ways that support and deliver high performance at the speed required by our organizations. Learning and performing at the speed of our organizations is essential.
The HR and learning leaders that adopt successful strategies to do this will be the winners. Forward-thinking learning leaders also know that reporting learning activity to their senior stakeholders will no longer demonstrate their worth. Their senior business colleagues are interested in outputs, not processes.
Working and Learning Are Intertwined
Working has never before been so reliant on effective continuous learning. For much of the workforce, learning is the work. Without a total integration of learning and working we will fall behind our customers’ expectations and, in the commercial world, our competitors’ successes.
So, effective HR and learning leaders need to adopt new approaches to work and learning with their stakeholders. To do this they need to understand key organizational objectives, major performance expectations, and the root causes of any deficiencies that may have been observed. They then collaborate with their stakeholders to architect performance solutions that will deliver improvements.
At the 70:20:10 Institute we refer to the skills to do this as those of the Performance Detective and Performance Architect.
Detectives and Architects
The role of the Performance Detective is a critical one. The Performance Detective doesn’t carry out training needs analysis. The person filling this role uses critical task analysis and other tools to develop a deep understanding of the root cause issues that may be contributing to an organizational or team performance problem.
The Performance Detective doesn’t ‘solutioneer’ training in the way that the training needs analysis process often does – where the solution is agreed without any root cause analysis or performance analysis.
With the training needs analysis process, a course, program, eLearning module – or a combination of ‘these 10’ solutions – is often defined as the solution without thinking whether alternative solutions to support performance in the flow of work might be better or more efficient.
The Performance Detective identifies root causes of problems, and the range of most likely solutions taking the whole range of potential solutions – formal, social and experiential – into account.
The Performance Detective works with stakeholders to address questions such as these:
- Why is the customer support team failing to achieve its first call resolution targets?
- Why is the patient care team failing to meet its average patient recovery time target?
- Why is the organization failing to reach its delivery partner quality figures?
The Performance Detective then passes the findings on to the Performance Architect.
Start with the 70. Design for the 100.
The Performance Architect designs solutions to solve performance problems, not just programs and courses to support learning. A program or course may be part of the overall solution, but the Performance Architect’s remit is far wider than the ‘10’ (structured learning solutions). Sometimes the solution will not draw on courses or programs at all.
In fact, the Performance Architect’s initial focus will always be on the ‘70’.
One of the reasons for this is because the learning that occurs closest to the point of need is more likely to create greater impact.
This is an important concept to grasp, and is counter to many existing L&D practices. When learning or support is available within the workflow it is likely to be more useful than learning carried out away from work.
When learning and working are integrated, the need for ‘transfer’ disappears. One of the major challenges Learning professionals have struggled with for years is simply removed.
Away-from-work learning may be useful to help build basic understanding – especially where explicit information and processes are involved – but context is critical to all other learning, and context is almost invariably defined at or just before, the point-of-need.
What does this mean for designing solutions to address performance challenges and problems then?
It means that when designing solutions it’s always best to start with the ‘70’ and ‘20’ – the performance support and development that occurs as part of the flow of work.
The diagam below is taken from our recent book ’70:20:10 Towards 100% Performance’. It shows some of the work that the Performance Architect needs to undertake – from using the data generated by the Performance Detective, to designing and co-creating effective‘100’ solutions, to agreeing and validating the designs with stakeholders and engaging with another of the five roles we have defined – the Performance Master Builder – to ensure effective solutions are developed in line with their designed purpose and deployed.
The Value-Add of a 70:20:10 Approach
The 70:20:10 approach, when implemented well, is the perfect framework to help HR and learning leaders deliver real value.
70:20:10 re-focuses from learning to performance. It requires new ways of thinking, new practices, and new skills and roles.
70:20:10 isn’t about the ‘numbers’, although they are helpful reminders that the vast majority of learning occurs as part of the workflow.
70:20:10 is a new approach built on knowledge we’ve had for a long time – that learning occurs through rich and challenging experiences, through opportunities for practice, through engaging with others in conversations and networks, and through reflective practices. These are the ‘real’ learning activities that we should be focusing on.
There’s a lot more to 70:20:10 than just adding learning activities into courses or programs. It’s a whole new way of approaching performance.
Charles Jennings, Jos Arets & Vivian Heijnen