Experience Matters: What We've Learned (and heard) Along the Way

This blog is excerpted from episode 40 of the Performance Matters Podcast where Bob Mosher reflects on the episodes to-date and curates a list of experiences that truly do matter when planning, building, and implementing a 5 Moments of Need solution. 

Our 40th episode and eleven thousandth download—these are milestones for us! 

We are honored that you’ve joined us throughout so many of these recordings. Because it’s our fortieth episode, what we decided to do was go back and listen to some of our most popular ones and pull out ten of the most prevalent and powerful best practices we’ve heard to-date. 

Number One: Workflow learning fixes the classroom. 

Unanimously, one of the most powerful things about The Five Moments is that there are Five Moments. For years, we were known as the performance support guys. Obviously, we talk an awful lot about the power of workflow learning and the impact it can have on the workflow by designing for the moment of Apply first. But the reality is that there are still all Five Moments. There’s New and More. And unanimously, from all the organizations who have tried this, when they focus on The Five Moments, they found was that it has a huge impact on the classroom itself. 

We over teach. People talked about the fact that we just do too much of a content dump. We overload our learners. There’s cognitive overload from all the information. We cover everything. And The Five Moments of Need design methodology allows you to let the classroom do what it does best. It lets us finally deliver on blended learning the way our industry’s always wanted to do blended learning. We’re allowed to blend the perfect amount of classroom learning with what we intentionally put into the workflow using the EPSS and the performance support that we design. 

So, Number One, workflow learning helps fix the classroom and finally allow it to do what it does best. 

Number Two: All tasks are not created equal. 

Number Two is a byproduct of Number One in many ways.  The classroom suffers because it’s born out of the idea that everything we’re asked to teach is important—and of course our SMEs, or subject matter experts, feel that same way. But the reality is that all tasks are not created equal. 

What about the criticality of failure? We’re pivoting on performance. So, when you look at tasks, when you look at supporting knowledge, when you look at the resources that enable both of

those through the lens of failure as the pivot, what’s the criticality of failure? If someone tries to learn something on their own, if someone tries to remember something on their own, if someone tries to learn New and More on their own, and they fail, even though they have support, if the outcome of failing is too severe, those are the areas that we need to teach.  That impacts Number One, the classroom in a significant way. 

Every organization we talked to came to the same conclusion.  Understanding the outcome of failure took all the pressure off the fact that “everything had to be trained=”.  It allowed our subject matter experts, our business matter experts, even the line of business, to see the power of an EPSS,  By showing them the power of workflow design, even though all things are important, criticality of failure helped us understand where things are best learned and where they’re best left to be learned in the context of experience. Workflow learning design lets us put things where they belong and support it holistically. 

Number Three: The Five Moments of Need design process makes the workflow visible. 

This has been a remarkable learning for me personally. When I’ve done my own design in this years ago—I am always amazed how little I understood about the actual workflow that my learners went back to. I understood what the SME wanted me to teach. I understood the content and the order and flow of information. But that is not the context of the workflow.

When you start doing Rapid Workflow Analysis with your stakeholders, it amazes me how the SMEs, the business owners, somewhere during the 2~3-day exercise always comes back and says, “Look. We had no idea what our people actually did from 8 to 5. We have SOPs, we have sales processes, we have leadership skills and competencies, but we didn’t realize how that translated into the workflow itself.” 

So, one of the most powerful gifts you’ll give to your organizations through creating and building a 5 Moments of Need solution is making the work being done within the workflow visible. Managers feel empowered by that because now they know what’s truly being done. They know how to manage to it, and probably more importantly, they see gaps. They see things that are broken. They see redundancies. They see things being done that, frankly, should not be done. 

What became apparent in each organization’s journey is that managers have never had an intentional and structured way to analyze and look into what was happening in the workflow itself. So, the Five Moments of Need design process—although the end game is workflow learning—helped every learning organization build a stronger relationship with the business because they helped them see what actually happened. It makes the workflow visible. 

Number Four: Content management is back and in a remarkable way. 

This is one of Dr. Gottfredson’s favorites. Content management is back and in a remarkable way. I remember going through this in the 90s - Content management, Learning Content Management Systems, Knowledge Management… We ran all of these disciplines and tools in a big way in the early days, and I think for many we fell short. Content management is a remarkable discipline, but it’s best done in the context of managing that content for an outcome. That was the big pivot for me. 

Often, we went into manage content because it was lying around, there was too much. We had a lot to get our arms around. So, our intent was that we were chasing a content problem or an overwhelmed problem, but we were missing context. Content management in the context of roles, the context of the workflow, the context of tasks, the context of knowledge, takes on a whole different light. And many of us are being asked to go into the content curation of not just our own content, or the content the organization owns, but also content that users are creating. 

Good performance support, good workflow learning, will broker and reach into assets that a learner may be managing at an individual level. So, content management takes on a remarkable role in migrating to workflow learning. And in many organizations, it was the tipping point they needed to do it well. It put the methodology of content management ahead of the technology of content management, which, I think, for a lot of us in the early days was where we missed the mark. 

We had it wrong. We were buying LCMSs. We were seeing content messes. Our LMSs were causing us to create these huge libraries. SharePoint was causing us to create huge content libraries. We ran at the technology overload, the content overload, and we were lacking context. 

Workflow learning will allow you to begin the journey of tackling content management in a manageable way—one outcome, one project at a time. 

Number Five: Methodology begets technology. 

This is my favorite. Methodology begets technology. I have been in this business for over thirty-six years, and I’m a technology guy. I had one of the earlier mobile phones. It was the size of a shoe box. I’ve been all over every technology when it comes out. E-learning, smart boards, the internet, virtual instruction… I was often, and tried to be, one of the first ones using and testing these. But friends, when you chase technology for learning ahead of methodology to design using that technology it gets you in trouble. 

So, every organization we talked to, somewhere in their lessons learned, shared that either they had already bought technology and were trying to “square-hole-round-peg” it, or that they were already using technology and were trying to get ahead of things like SharePoint, and fix it so that it worked. 

The power of The Five Moments of Need is that it is a methodology first. Workflow learning is a methodology first. And if you run at the problem, if you analyze the tasks, if you design for the workflow, if you understand the amazing amount of resources that need to be brokered based on the Performance Support pyramid, the technology will follow once that design architecture is in place. 

And it is an evolutionary journey. Many did not go out and buy a formal authoring EPSS system. They had to crawl, walk, run into it. They might have used SharePoint. We’ve heard of a bunch of different technologies that have been used but as long as the principles of the methodology were applied, even some of the lower end technologies—i.e., a PDF— it could still work. 

Ultimately, they grew into the right technologies, or a more powerful technology, or a better use of the technologies that they may have already purchased. But they got there in an intentional way, understanding the needs of the organization, the kinds of workflow learning they had to build, and the methodology that drove it. 

So, methodology always begets and will direct you toward the right technology. 

Halfway there, friends! For the top 5 best practices we’ve heard, learned, and experience, listen to the full episode.

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