Winston Wolfe
29 juni 2017 — By Mathias Vermeulen

Performance support – Bob Mosher

One week after our legen – wait for it – dary third edition of #LearningTechDay another L&D legend visited our beautiful country: Bob Mosher. We wanted to write a reflection ourselves, but then we read Matthias Nauwelaers‘ review and we asked him to publish his text as a guest blog post. Enjoy! “70-20-10 and ADDIE are […]

One week after our legen – wait for it – dary third edition of #LearningTechDay another L&D legend visited our beautiful country: Bob Mosher. We wanted to write a reflection ourselves, but then we read Matthias Nauwelaers‘ review and we asked him to publish his text as a guest blog post. Enjoy!

“70-20-10 and ADDIE are no good. It gives you a framework but it doesn’t tell you how to design great learning opportunities”

To say that the Masterclass by Bob Mosher, organized by VOV, was entertaining would be an understatement. Mosher, Chief Learning Evangelist at APPLY Synergies and co-author of the book: Innovative Performance Support: Strategies and Practices for Learning in the Workflow, is known in the industry for his fresh take on learning and development. The concept of performance support which embodies strategies for designing learning events that meet “the 5 Moments of Need”, was the main focus of his inspiring workshop. As sharing knowledge enforces your own learning process while helping others, read my 5 takeaways below.

1. There’s a gap between dream and reality within L&D.

Bob Mosher started off recounting his days at Microsoft. He and his team were receiving a bunch of industry awards for the way they tackled learning. However, when speaking to the people he was designing learning for, they said they hated the approaches that the company was using. As L&D we often think that we are designing learning by the book (sometimes literally, yes) and that it automatically generates positive feedback (hell, even the happiness sheet says so) but do we really talk to our learners? Reconnecting with our target audience should be one of our main priorities. The attention that Design Thinking is receiving from HR professionals these days is a clear affirmation and sign that we feel this need.

2. The classroom (and e-learning) still has to carry all the burden.

Even after several years of studies, countless white papers and numerous speakers that state that classroom training isn’t always the best way to learn something new, (internal) clients still regularly ask L&D for “2 days of (fill in the blank) classroom training”. One of the reasons for this enduring belief is because people often overestimate the importance of knowing, rather than doing. This in turns leads to a lot of initiatives that involve 80% presenting content and 20% discussing (and maybe if we’re lucky a bit of practicing). This leaves a myriad of alternative methods and tools that are at our disposal underused. Add the growing constraint of time and money to the equation and you get expectations that can’t be fulfilled by classroom training and sometimes e-learning alone.

3. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any place will do” (Alice in Wonderland).

When our client asks for training, a common practice is to present the problem, design a solution (based on those books, remember) and evaluate the result afterward. However, Bob Mosher states that to design effective learning opportunities that go a long way of satisfying the needs of your client, it’s better to understand the problem by defining the desired results and business outcomes first before tailoring a solution. Using performance variables as a building block and as a measurement for the effectiveness of your efforts (a good example would be the Kirkpatrick/Phillips model) will increase the transparency of your ROI. In turn, this will help heighten the credibility of the L&D department.

4. Don’t focus all your attention on training, but equally on transfer and sustaining.

So you design a learning event that incorporates different methods and tools besides the usual suspects. You even incorporate performance variables to tailor a solution and evaluate the intervention. Still, chances are that the time that is spent on mastering concepts and tasks is too long. A massive body of research on memory and retention proves that transferring these concepts and tasks and sustaining the new habits, in the long run, deserves an equal amount of our attention, time and budget.

5. Performance support is a designed approach.

L&D is tool-attracted industry, face it. But “knowing how to swing a hammer, doesn’t make you a carpenter” as Mosher repeated several times. If you’re talking about tools before strategy and vision you are biting your own tail. But when it comes to performance support what are the key elements that your strategy and vision should contain? Mosher explained some of the key principles:

  • Embed the resources for learning in the workflow and make them on-demand available (just take a look at any binder collecting dust or the adoption rate of a tool that isn’t user-friendly or only accessible through various steps).
  • Make resources contextually available according to roles and access needs. Provide just enough and in a form that fits into the business process.
  • See to it that your resources are trusted and curated by creating a common language, stimulating meaningful social collaboration and applying content management.
  • Gradually move away from instructor-led learning to self-directed learning by applying instruction that refers to the resources available.
    When people need to apply skills and knowledge, start by defining the process, chunk it into steps and concepts, before moving on to reference resources, learning objects and people resources.

You could see the excitement in the attendees’ eyes when Mosher was finishing up. But before sending us out the door as believers in performance support, he gave us one last parting advice that I want to share with you as well: “start with a small project that already is successful”. Even if it fails the first time, experimenting in a safe pilot environment will keep the faith of the followers or the evangelist herself/himself strong.

Start spreading the word!

(written by Matthias Nauwelaers and originally posted on LinkedIn)