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Practice Makes Performance!

by Steve Lee, strategic relationship manager

Steve250Dr. Michael Allen says, "Success is getting people to do the right thing at the right time.” However, bridging a learner from successfully completing training to performing like an expert is often harder than we expect.

Dr. Allen has also been known to say, "There are two things you can't teach someone, what they already know and what they don't want to know."

Yet most e-learning requires learners to go through training they don’t need, compounded by the fact that learners have a tendency to think they already know better and training won’t help them. So how can we avoid spending time and resources teaching people things they already know, and not motivating them to understand the importance of what we are teaching?

First, consider the 70/20/10 learning concept that was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo from the Center for Creative Leadership. This philosophy states that people learn:

  • 70% from real life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving (this is the most important aspect of any learning and development plan)
  • 20% from feedback and from observing and working with role models
  • 10% from formal training

Therefore I propose that we should design e-learning that goes beyond the “formal training” tradition and instead mimics the actual job environment by utilizing:

  • scenario-based, job-task emulations
  • access to a coach/mentor, reference materials, demonstrations and formative immediate feedback
  • forced completion of each task, even after mistakes are made
  • mastery-based scoring requiring learners receiving feedback or help to retake the task—allowing experts to test out on the first successful attempt
  • a dashboard/balanced-scorecard approach at the end of each task to provide guidance for the next attempt, as well as measuring their PPP Learning Style:
    • preparing with resources and demonstrations before an attempt
    • attempting to complete each task until a point of need and pausing to access guidance, or
    • just plugging away by guessing—hoping to get the correct answer in feedback

CorporateTrainingThese training activities should assume everyone (except those who “already know”) needs more than one attempt to succeed. In fact, training activities should be so authentic and engaging that students will want to try over and over again to hone their skills. The activities should include extremely difficult or even impossible situations (the Kobayashi Maru for the Star Trek fans out there) to allow students to learn how to handle the no win situation providing not just competency training, but confidence based training as well. This approach of hyper-practice to mastery is used by skilled athletes, pilots, the military and most other high risk/high reward professions. 

Mom always said to try and try again. You learn from your mistakes and that practice makes perfect. Perfect Performance!

Are you in the Denver area? Join me as I present “Practice Makes Performance” at the ASTD Rocky Mountain Chapter Meeting on Monday, March 18 at 5:30.