Design to Measurement: An Instructional Designer's 5 Moments of Need Journey

This blog is excerpted from episode 19 of the Performance Matters podcast where Bob Mosher speaks with Sue Reber, one of the world’s top 5 Moments of Need Designers, on: the 5 Moments methodology, how it differs from other approaches, and the how and why around shifting mindsets to performance-first.  

Bob Mosher (BM): One reason I’m so excited about this particular episode is that we’ve interviewed Con from a theory perspective and as the visionary. We all know he’s a pioneer in this stuff. We’ve interviewed organizations who are well on this journey, and the Leaders in those companies who have the vision and such. Clearly, you are a leader when it comes to design and development. Sue, you’ve mentored so many, you’ve been a part of the certificate program and others, and we’ve just watched you mature in your development as you have been along for this ride and gone through all of this. So many on this call are ID’s and early in the journey, and having a true Senior Developer’s perspective on this is so important. So, let’s start with how you got here; give us a bit of your background in how you arrived to where you are today. 

Sue Reber (SR): It was all a little bit of luck, actually. I started out as a high school English teacher graduating from college at a time when there were literally hundreds of applications for every teaching position. I did teach for a few years. But I didn’t like it very well. I loved the teaching partbut not the administrative stuff that went along with it. 

So, I started looking for a job that would use my education background and allow me to write, and I fell into a job as an instructional designer, as you know, for Logical Operations. And that was the beginning of it allso many doors opened and it was a total blessing to wind up there. I got be an instructional designer in a company where there was a good foundation in training and that helped me a lot. They facilitated me in getting my master’s degree and introduced me to performance-based, problem-based learning with LearnPro, our case-based learning model, which I managed. And that, really, is what started me on my journey toward performance-based training as opposed to knowledge-based training. 

BM: Let’s run with that a bit. You mention hitting this important pivot where you realized that training alone is not enough, or a “training first” mindset is not enough. Tell me, why does The 5 Moments of Need, which you are so good at, work for you as a designer? What is it that makes it so unique to you, or has helped you change that mindset? 

SR: It makes me think about the performance first. It’s really all about performance, right? The 5 Moments help me think about that from what it is that people need to be able to do and all the different contexts in which they need to do that work—whether it’s apply or change or learn something new. When you think through what it means to the learner, you’re going to come up with a solution that will far better meet the needs of the performers rather than meeting the needs of the trainer or what the business thinks the performers need. 

BMCan you do performance support for soft skills? 

SR: You can absolutely do performance support for soft skills. In fact, it’s more important to do performance support for soft skills because we have a hard time with that even in our business world. It does require a bit of a mind shift because a lot of times in soft skills you’re talking about guidelines you need to identify and apply. But there is still some skill that you need to be able to perform with those soft skills, such as active listening. 

BMSo, let me ask a question around your response. This real pivot on training first versus performance first is really at the heart of the whole thing. And “tasks” leads us to “measurement.” Sue, my gosh, we’ve been chasing this “ROI” acronym forever. And when I had a training first mindset, I struggled with—agree or disagree with them—the higher levels of Phillips and Kirkpatrick.

And somy “aha!” in this journey is that training often gets unfairly positioned as being able to directly measure or influence higher level Kirkpatrick or Phillips. I think, candidly, understanding the 5 moments, that training can’t stretch itself into those areas.  This is where performance support comes in because when you move into the workflow, and you want to get into those higher levels, you have to be where the performance occurs. Sue, help us understand, from your opinion, how has the shift to 5 Moments helped us look at measurement differently?  

SRWhen we are building training, we are generally looking at measuring the training. if I’m talking Kirkpatrick—we have Level 1 smile sheets, Level 2 skill checks. Then we might even go beyond that like we tried to do with LearnPro, where we went back after the fact to people on the job to see if they were able to translate—transfer—what they learned. But it’s not measuring the performance, it’s measuring the training, right?  
I don’t know that the business really cares about the training. They care about how the performance changes as a result of the training and I don’t believe it can change as a result of the training because training is an event and performance support is a way of life. Right? You’re integrating it right into the way you work and you’re not just measuring a single moment in time.  

For more on Sue’s take on measurement, usage, and assets—as well as her biggest takeaways from her journey to-date—download or listen to this entire episodeAnd be sure to subscribe to The Performance Matters Podcast to stay up-to-date on all the latest conversations and guests in the 5 Moments space. 


Methodology Matters: Answers to Hot Topics and Common Questions

By: Dr. Conrad Gottfredson

This post has been excerpted from it’s original content, Episode 18 of The Performance Matters Podcast. 

In this episode Con answers questions submitted from our good friends at ttc Innovations.

What is broken with traditional learning and how do we fix it?
Well, it’s kind of important to see ourselves with where we really are. Unfortunately, in traditional learning, the focus is on learning instead of on performance, making sure that people can perform effectively on the job, all the time, anywhere. The mindset in Learning is really quite narrow. Many years ago—1984 actually—I became very much aware that there were five moments of learning need. Two of those are traditional learning moments—the moment of learning new and the moment of learning more.
But I also became convinced that there was a very important moment that if you don’t take care of it, everything that you do in learning new or learning more is moot. And that’s the moment of apply, when people have to take whatever it is that they have learned and perform effectively at the moment of apply. Then there is the moment of change that is also in the workflow, and the moment of solve, also in the workflow.
Those five moments of need are very important for us to address. Unfortunately, in traditional Learning, we take a very narrow view and focus in on the learning without taking into consideration what needs to happen at the moments of apply, solve, and change.
So what’s broken? It’s really our mindset, where we’re thinking about learning rather than performance. And we’re very narrow in that view of what we do.
What does a 5 Moments of Need Solution look like?
It’s a blend of learning and performance support. The discipline of performance support is really the discipline of providing just what you need, at the moment of need, to help you get the job done.
A 5 Moments of Need Solution assists people not only in the learning, where I learn to be independent in the workflow, but also across that learning through the Transfer phase and into the Sustainment phase. That is, transferring what I’ve learned to my job and then sustaining me in an ever-changing work environment. A 5 Moments Solution addresses all of that, as I move from Training to Transfer to Sustain across all five moments of learning need.
How does a 5 Moments solution deliver measurable results?
You know, Gloria Gery wrote an interesting article in the 90s. As she was being asked to report on traditional learning metrics, she asked, “Why don’t we just weigh them? Why don’t we just bring in cattle scales and weigh our students?” She understood then that most learning metrics don’t really get at what really matters, which is how people can perform effectively and our ability to measure that.
When you build a 5 Moments Solution, you extend your reach into the workflow. You build a performance support solution that supports people as they do their job in the flow of work. Because it’s extended into there, because we have tools helping people in the performance of their jobs, we have the ability to gather metrics in ways we have not been able to gather metrics in the past. So our ability to reach in and know that people are actually performing on the job to be able to ask very brief questions about that performance and gather that data allows us to truly measure business impact. Like time to effective performance, or reduction of time wasted as people are searching for the resources they need to do their job.
There are really five areas of business impact that we can now measure. Those include 1) the ability to measure how we are able to optimize performance in the workflow; 2) increase profitability; 3) reduce operational risk; 4) cultivate a dynamic, engaged workforce; or 5) reinforce organizational mission and values. We’re able to gather data in all five of these areas because we have reached into the workflow. We intentionally have solutions in the workflow supporting people as they do their jobs.
What is the difference between adaptive and personalized learning?
Personalized learning is a broader view of learning. Adaptive learning is a type of personalized learning. It’s very knowledge-based, frankly. It’s adaptive. It’s smart. It pushes questions to you. As you answer those questions, you may have access to resources to help you in the answering of those questions. And as you learn adaptively, the system is able to understand and determine of whether you have really mastered that piece of knowledge or not. It will use its algorithms to push those questions to you over time so that you learn over time and have it reinforced. It’s very nice learning system. A lot of the gaming technologies that are in place to help us learn through gaming is really adaptive learning being applied that way.
Personalized learning is really broader than that. Adaptive learning is a part of personalized learning. But if I have you learning in the workflow on tasks that only you need to know, and I have everything you need supporting you as you do that, that in a sense is personalized learning. Particularly if you have access to on-the-job coaching and association. Even in a classroom, I can have personalized learning where I turn you lose to use a digital coach—an EPSS—to work on learning that is personalized to you. So personalized learning is a broader engagement in learning. It’s anything we do to make sure you are focusing only on what is important to you in your growth and development rather than the generalized learning where I’m listening to things I’m learning and practicing on things I need to know but the person next to me doesn’t need to know.
How does artificial intelligence impact the speed of change?
Smart performance support is really important. Mobile technology is enabling us to know who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what is around you. This data allows us to become very smart in what we’re pushing to you based upon what you and others are doing and what [data] you’re using and how you’re using it to be able to impact your work.
Artificial intelligence is an exciting frontier but it is a frontier. We need to move into this with great speed and attention, but also care to make sure that what we are doing is allowing us to learn from the performance of others and adapt and change based upon that learning.
For the complete list of questions and responses, listen to the full episode. And be sure to subscribe to The Performance Matters Podcast to stay up-to-date on all the latest conversations and guests in the 5 Moments space.