Learning Experience Leader

69 // What is Old is New Again with Guy W. Wallace

September 07, 2021
Learning Experience Leader
69 // What is Old is New Again with Guy W. Wallace
Show Notes Transcript

Today’s guest is Guy W. Wallace. Guy is a Performance Analyst and Instructional Architect – and has been designing and developing performance-based instruction and training content since 1979. Guy has been consulting since 1982 and has served 80+ consulting clients, primarily in the Fortune 500.

Guy's work has won a host of awards and he has authored over 90 articles, 16 books, and 4500+ blog posts. He has presented professionally over 125 times. You can check out the tremendous resources on his website which I’ve linked in the show notes along with some specific items we discuss in this episode.    

Today we discuss: 

  • How most current learning design trends are old ideas wrapped up in new language 
  • Why awareness (but not anxiety) of history matters to design practitioners 
  • Some of Guy’s experiences that have informed his design process over the years
  • And additional key insights from two of Guy’s articles

Resources

Join the conversation on the LX Leader LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/learning-experience-leader-podcast 


Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/lxleader)
Guy W. Wallace:

There's a fairly rich history about almost everything that we do in learning and development or learning experience design that's been done in the past. And some of that history includes, under what conditions did this work back in the day? and under what conditions didn't it work? And when would should you use this and when should you never use this new shiny thing?

Greg Williams:

From the beautiful state of Utah in the United States. Hello, and welcome. I am Greg Williams, and you're listening to the learning experience leader podcast, a project devoted to design leadership and the psychology of learning. This podcast helps you expand your perspective of learning design through conversations with innovative professionals, and scholars across the world. Today's guest is guy W. Wallace, guys, performance analyst and instructional architects, and has been designing and developing performance based instruction and training content since 1979. Knight has been consulting since 1982, and has served 80 plus consulting clients primarily in the fortune 500. Guys work has won a host of awards, and he's authored over 90 articles, 16 books and 4500 plus blog posts. He has presented professionally over 125 times, and you can check out the tremendous resources on his website, which I've linked in the show notes along with some specific items we discussed in this episode. Today, we discuss how most current learning design trends are actually old ideas wrapped up in new language, why awareness, but not anxiety of history matters to design practitioners, some of guys experiences that have informed his design process over the years. And additional key insights from two of guys articles, which are linked with all the other resources in show notes. I hope you really enjoy this episode. With that, let's get started. Okay, I'm really happy to have you here on the show today. Thanks so much for taking the time to be on here with me. Thank you for the invitation, Greg. All right. I know I'm very provided a brief introduction to you and some your background with a bio. But wondering if you could talk just for a minute about what does your current work look like your day to day?

Guy W. Wallace:

Well, I'm mostly retired now quite frankly, I'm going to turn 69 years old here in a couple of days. So I haven't been all that active. My last project was a couple of years ago for a major health care company in Atlanta and I was doing a curriculum architecture design for their sales force. They had merged 27 different organizations into their company. And so they had 27 different sales forces. And they were going to re engineer the Salesforce process, change the jobs and and around a bit for this fairly large audience. And so I developed a curriculum architecture, a training and development path, if you will, or a learning path, and a planning guide. So people could down select from that learning path, you know, what was relevant to their jobs, what they didn't already know, from prior education or experience, and develop an individual development plan. And then my client went to go implement and change a lot of their existing content around and fill in the gaps when they were priorities for the sales function leaders.

Greg Williams:

What keeps you connected and passionately interested in in all of this the world of learning and development instruction? Why do you keep coming back and write more books and, and staying engaged in these conversations?

Guy W. Wallace:

Well, I guess I have a passion for it. I've been in the business now. 42 years, but back in 1999, I was writing my first solo book, lean ISD. And I had one of my mentors was is the late Gary rumbler. And I said to him that look, I've put a lot into this book here, and mentioned you as the source for what I learned in terms of how I do analysis, performance analysis in particular. And if you don't like what I've written here, I'll take it all out. And he said, we'll come down to visit me. So I went from Chicago to Tucson and spent a couple of days with him. And at one point in the two day period where we were talking, I said to him something along the lines of Gee, I don't know how I'm ever going to repay you for everything that you've ever done for me. And he was standing at a whiteboard writing and he stopped writing. And his hand was there on the whiteboard. And he turned to me and he said you can't and then he started writing again. And I was kind of in shock. And he and he is a jokester. But so he stopped writing again, he turned to me, he said, you're gonna have to do what I had to do. I couldn't pay my mentors back either. I had to pay it forward. And so that's what you're going to have to do. And so I really took that to heart. And it was, it was very much how I grew up in my professional organization mspi, the National Society for performance and instruction, which became the National Society for performance improvement, which became the International Society for performance improvement, I SPI. And I've been in that organization since since my first month in the job back in 1979. And it's a very sharing organization, a very open organization, even the gruff, old people would say, you know, first dates, if you ask them a question, they they grumble, Hey, you got any money? And then and then, within 30 seconds, they would say, no, really? No, what is your question? And they, they'd help you. And so that's just kind of the tradition I grew up in. And it's kind of, you know, sharing your work. kind of approach sharing your processes telling your secrets, you know, being very open with all of that. So, I've just felt a need to pay the late Gary rumbler back. And to, you know, continue sharing, which is something that I've tried to do before he said that to me, but you know, that really kind of set me on fire. Yeah,

Greg Williams:

that's a great story. And I think it's a good bridge to to that one of the articles that I wanted to talk about today. Some blog posts that you put out, titled, what's old is new again, and I didn't want to try to pronounce the acronym. I want to leave that up to you to share how you pronounce it. But I wonder if you could kind of explain that the concept of this article, kind of what motivated your writing of it. And, yeah, just What's your ideal response for someone reading this as to, you know, inform how they're approaching things?

Guy W. Wallace:

Well, I would pronounce it Whoa, I know. It's kind of in a joking mode here, like, what's old is new again. And this is something that I heard back in the 1980s. From the thought leaders, the gurus, if you will, okay. mspi, Joe Harless, Bob megger, Gary rumbler, Tom Gilbert, and really literally dozens and dozens of other people that were kind of the thought leaders of moving from programmed instruction into other forms of instruction into performance improvement, which might include instruction, but not necessarily. And they would complain about the fact that, you know, I'm not sure who they blamed, I would blame, you know, basically marketing people trying to sell something as new and improved, when, in fact, it's not other than maybe the name. Maybe there's some aspects of some of the things from the past. But But, um, so I I don't believe that people should not embrace, you know, the newer things learning experience, designer is one of them. But when they set up straw man arguments to say, Well, you know, training or instruction or learning didn't even work back in the day, well, that's not true. Now, it wasn't the best practices for doing those things weren't universally embraced. In fact, it was just a subset, a narrow subset of the population that embraced really valid, authentic approaches to doing instruction that would actually have measurable impacts back on the job. But that's hard work and takes a little bit longer if you don't have a quick process to do those kinds of things. So most people just, you know, they just did it, they didn't do really good project planning, they didn't really do good analysis, they didn't really do good design, they jump into development and try to do it all. While they were developing content. And they didn't have anchors for things. So part of my issue is that too many things are embraced as brand new. There's, they're the latest shining object, if you will, and and people don't understand the history of those things. So what I really would like is that the people that are newer to the field, this makes it awfully confusing for them to climb the learning curve to climb the performance curve that really master this craft. And they can get confused about, you know, is this the same? Or is this different? Is this really news is really different? And I think what's lost when we don't understand the history of some of these things, you know, because it's okay to embrace the new labels for things, that's fine. But to understand some of the history of that, and some of that history includes, under what conditions did this work back in the day? and under what conditions didn't it work? And when would should you use this and when should you never use this new shiny thing? And, and so, you know, what I tell people and I've mentioned this in other podcasts is that new people coming in need to learn the language, the labels, the processes, the practices of their organization. And as soon as they've got their, their arms around that they've got a handle on that, then they need to start learning some of the history of these things because there ain't nothing new under the sun, so to speak. And, and it's good to know the history because it In that history, there are maybe lessons learned from the past that you can learn today based, you know, when other people, the best way to avoid mistakes is learning from the mistakes of others. And so there's there's a fairly rich history about almost everything that we do in learning and development or learning experience design that's been done in the past. And, and I think that there's good practices, better practices that can be embraced, and borrowed from the past and used, and a lot of that is, quite frankly, nowadays being called a lot of new things. And and it's just not necessarily, you know,

Greg Williams:

yeah, what, what I think is really valuable when I saw this article, and, you know, one of the reasons I reached out was, I love kind of the critical thinking bent of this of, yeah, it can be called a lot of things. But if you can understand the foundation, or kind of the place that it's coming from, you can identify those patterns, you can kind of take off that outer coat of it, as it were to truly identify what's going on there. So I wanted to just name a couple of examples in here, that I see to give listeners an idea. And of course, they can go check out these articles that we talked about. But you know, one caught my eye, because I'm, I'm hoping to get a guest on soon to talk about it is micro learning. You know, so you mentioned how that's not a new idea of having like short pieces of content, right?

Guy W. Wallace:

Yeah, no, that's that was it was called chunking, back in the 80s, and 90s. And the intent was to give people you know, just a little bit, and not bury it in five day courses. Now, back in the day, since I'm an old guy and gray beard, we didn't have the technology to deliver a lot of chunks, things here. I mean, we could send it in the US mail, distributed that way. But you know, that wasn't easy to do. You know, when I started the business in 1979, we used to produce 15 minute videos no longer than that. So it was never under 15 minutes, because we always had more content, but we had a camp on that. And we would hand out, you know, auxiliary materials for the store managers to use and go make copies of and they were basically what we would call job aids, which is another one of these or Aigner things. But we but but so that we were limited by the technology, and nowadays we can push and allow pull so much more easily that it's affected, you know, the how we do our work and how we deploy or make accessible our work. But chunking, or micro learning is really not new. And I think as long as people are going after whole tasks, because if you give me only half the tasks that I need in order to produce a worthy output, you've left me hanging. And so there's a you know, we can overdo micro learning. And it can be too short to be useful, unless, of course, it's it's space learning. And we're reminding people of things through micro learning. And that's valid, you don't have to give me the all 27 tests to produce a worthy output. You can give me hints and quizzes and reminders and all sorts of things using the technology that we all have. But again, that's just you know, one example of the notion.

Greg Williams:

Yeah, well, and I'm glad you mentioned that, because as I'm looking at some of the other items on here, so we've got like, you know, stories or storytelling games, development, maps, even evaluation, each of these things, I think perfectly fits what you're describing with micro learning, is the concept of what these are is not new. But as you mentioned, near the end of the article, technology advances have enabled us to do better at these things, or to do them maybe slightly differently just because of, you know, the the advancements of technology. But the things themselves are not new things. And the way that humans engage with them is not necessarily new, in terms of like how it helps us learn. It's just delivered in new formats via technology. Is that accurate?

Guy W. Wallace:

Yes, I think so. And I think the bottom line is, you know, embrace what's going on what's current today, and but understand that most things are not new, other than the technology that enables it all. Otherwise, there's a probably a rich history and a lot of lessons learned from the past.

Greg Williams:

So another example, we can maybe dive in a little bit in more detail, because I know it's something that has been a big part of your work is this other article from the training magazine in 1984. And I, I'd like to link to that as well in the show notes. It's got a really amazing, like atomic bomb picture on the cover of it. And the article is all about curriculum architecture design. And that's sort of been one of these Whoa, aina items in terms of how it's changed this language. I for listeners, I want to read just the opening paragraph. And have you imagine, you know, what, if I didn't just tell you what year this was, you know, would you think it could be current so it starts, firefighting is a familiar routine for training departments. The company president gets a wind of the latest participative management program and wants all senior executives run through it pronto. The Vice President of Marketing suddenly decides the sales staff needs emergency dose of telemarketing training. Before you know it, the training department is racing around in circles attempting to douse these flare ups with its limited resources. I mean, other than maybe one or two words in that paragraph, like, if I was to read that people would think I was describing, you know, a company today.

Guy W. Wallace:

Yes. So there's many things about the past 40 years ago, 30 years ago that are still true today, you know, we were all in a hurry way back then. And we're still all in a hurry about things and, and time's a wasting. There's issues to address, there's costs to avoid or reduce. And there's a there's a lot of issues. And again, the technology has maybe seem to have made things speed up even more than they were back then. But But I don't know, you can you can debate that. But But this article was interesting in that this has been my life's work this curriculum architecture design, which was taking an engineering approach, that's another label for this thing that's old, but is being revived. Learning Engineering, and taking kind of a, an approach to learning as a as instructional systems design, I embraced the ISD phrase and language over the ID language, because I always saw instruction needing to be a system of instruction, with reinforcements built in incrementally building knowledge and skills up and performance capabilities up and taking a holistic look at it and then start building things to put them in place based on their priorities based on their potential return on investment, and leaving certain things to informal learning. Now, back in the day, I used to call that unstructured OJT. But so that the training magazine article from yeah bit way back in 1984, was the presentation of my firm's methodology at this and, and I probably by the time this came out in 84, I'd done maybe 16 of these kinds of projects as a consultant starting in 1982. So, and this article was written in 83. But But this was my thing in this small consulting firm, I joined after I left Motorola, and the first time I ever did one of these curriculum architecture designs, was as an employee at Motorola, because some consultant had come in and talk about this concept of curriculum architecture. He came from the Bell System Center for technical education part of at&t, and the IT group, the Information Technology Group, had asked for an architecture of curriculum. And so that's where this notion all kind of came from. And he came in and talked to us at Motorola about this notion, and I really liked it. And so I did one, and he came back and my and my boss's boss came, brought him over to my cubicle and showed him, I think I had like 10 or 12, flip chart, pages all taped together with all these work streams, if you will. It was a path. And it was a path for five different business units at Motorola and manufacturing supervisors. And so there were some things that everybody needed. And there were some things that were unique to your business. And there were things that were unique to your physical location, the factory that you worked at. And so this was this big, huge set of curriculum to take a new brand new supervisor in the manufacturing world, and begin to build their competence. And it was, so then, I spent 18 months or so at Motorola. And then I left and joined that consultant in his consulting firm. It was years later, they told me that the curriculum architecture thing was just a notion no one had ever done one. And when he saw what I had done, he knew he wanted to hire me. And so I got to work on that kind of thing. But so the the the later on, I think it was like in 2007, or eight, it was begun to be called learning paths. So it's the same concept. I call it training and development, blueprints, maps, paths, and then it became learning paths. And now it's called development journeys, or a bunch of different names like that. But the whole idea is to take people and, you know, what, what's, what's interesting about this, I think, is that the front end of these paths here has to be highly marginalized. If you Will highly chunked, highly micro learning if you will. And because the people coming into these jobs have varied knowledge and skills, prior knowledge, and it's because of their education and or their work experiences, and so there's a lot of things that they already know. And the worst thing that we can do to people is put them through training or instruction or learning on things that they already know. That's a waste of everybody's time and resources. And so how do you allow people to look at that figure out? What are my job responsibilities, because you know, maybe because I've got the same job title is 1100 other people doesn't mean that I do the same things, doesn't mean that my tasks and outputs are the same as everybody else. So how do we, you know, performance eyes, these these training and development paths, and then allow for personalization that accounts for the person's specific job responsibilities, and then accounts for what they already know, from education or experience and allows them to develop a plan that incrementally builds their knowledge and skills in a targeted way, and does it most efficiently effectively. And another thing that was unique to the way I did this is this all goes back to the late Gary roamers approach to performance analysis and and what did we understand about the performance requirements of people, you know, people are on the payroll not to employ behaviors not to perform tasks, they're there to produce outputs, that are inputs elsewhere. And so the focus that I've taken on all of this is that, you know, I want to understand, first of all, you know, how might I chunk out, you know, an instructional developers job, maybe they do analysis, and they do design, and they do development, etc. And so for analysis, you know, I want to know, what what are the things that you produce? And then what are the tasks that you use to produce those things? And then I want to know, what are the enabling knowledge and skills? What, what software tools do you use? What philosophies or practices Do you employ when you're doing those tasks to produce those outputs, but it all starts with the outputs? And quite frankly, the measures for those outputs? Later on, when we want to measure? Did we have impact we're looking at, do we get those outputs quicker, better and cheaper? You know, yes or no is the answer. And so did we win? If you know, and how did we do the task performance, where were we quicker and better and cheaper and our casp performance to produce those outputs. And so that's where measurement intersects with, you know, analysis is that it's all about the outputs, or the outputs, which meets stakeholder requirements that are inputs downstream, and even downstream to our own efforts, because analysis outputs our inputs to our design efforts, or somebody else's design efforts, depending on how our job responsibilities are configured in our organization. But yeah, so that that notion, they're embraced modularization, or chunking, or, or, or micro learning, involves sequencing the content and allowing personalization in that regard as well. If it, it assumed certain things about the target audience that were safe to assume, and didn't assume things that were not safe to assume. So we would understand, maybe our content only needs to take people to a depth of awareness, because that's really all they they don't need the whole nine yards, they don't need deep knowledge, they don't need a skill on this, they just need to be generally aware of this. And other things, they need to be fully knowledgeable of certain things. And on other things, they actually need to have a skill. And if you had to know some company policy and procedure, and you already have the skills with the old policy and procedure, maybe you just need to be aware of the new policy and procedure that would change your behaviors within the task set to produce a worthy output. So it's a very detailed approach to looking at curriculum architecture, or engineering, if you will. It really sold well with technical organizations full of engineers and finance people and things like that, who were used to that kind of thing and love that kind of thing. It wasn't as in fully embraced by my prospects or clients when they were more marketing, and promotional merchandising kinds of organizations because they didn't think like that. They didn't think about how you would build up a set of content and then do plug and play with some of the content to make it more appropriate for another target audience. But that's that was the notion to the whole thing. And so nowadays, it's got a lot of different names, but it's basically the same thing. How do we improve and care for the learner? be empathetic to the learner as we take them on this journey for performance comp. Since development,

Greg Williams:

yeah, I mean, there's, there's so much in there that you're talking about, and that's in this article. You know, there are common themes that I've seen, across everything from when I was in graduate school doing research to now, you know, being out in the corporate space and building material, you know, you've called out stakeholder management, you know, establishing scope and audience focus, the analysis of ideal performance, evaluation and metrics, starting, you know, with the end in mind kind of thing. Something that really stuck out in this article was really participative design or co design, basically bringing in your learners to collaborate with you which, in other design disciplines, I feel like, when I was doing research on my thesis, it seemed to be this kind of innovative new thing, right? Like, let's go design like, let's, let's bring the people we're building this for into the lab with us or into the creation space, but it's not a crazy new concept. And what what you're describing here also reminds me, a lot of the work of you mentioned, Bob maker, and criterion referenced instruction, you know, it's easy to discount some of those things in, you know, 2021, because of the cover, the book doesn't look nice and sexy, or whatever, right? Or like, language is just so straightforward and easy to understand, like, Is it really this simple, you know, in the way that he does it, it's, it's mind bogglingly simple. But it goes back to all these basics you've just talked about, and they are so powerful.

Guy W. Wallace:

Yes, I think that's so true. The, you know, the code design kind of thing. I, since 1979, I got frustrated my seventh iteration of a video script. And I walked into my boss's office, and I said, I'm not updating this. Again, I'm not going to go through this here, because I have edited it back out things that I edited in and things I had edited out before that, and this is I'm going around in circles. And I want to bring all of our vendors, it was a Windows program for wicks lumber, like Home Depot, okay, I was kind of a company, I said, I want to bring in all the vendors here that I'm that I'm forced to work with, and put them in our conference room. And I want to hammer this out and be done with it, because this is ridiculous. And so he agreed we had to get permission from the lawyers because no people were afraid of, you know, the anti trust, or, you know, from the Justice Department, you know, there was a little bit of fear of that. So we had to record the whole two day meeting, blah, blah, blah. But, um, so I learned that it was painful as a facilitator, but it shorten that cycle time and improve the results dramatically. And so I began to embrace it, I haven't been able to use that all the time, I was able to use it a little bit at Motorola, but not a lot. And as a consultant, that was my thing. We could tell our clients Hey, we can be done with the all of the analysis, every last bit of it. And a five day period in the middle of that five days. We're gonna do three days of a group meeting with your, with your top performers. Tom Gilbert, the late Tom Gilder call them exemplars, but my one of my clients told me we hate that word as a $30. College word. So get rid of it. So I said, How about master performers? And they said, Sure. And so I want to bring in the people that were doing the job to a level of mastery the day before we did it, before we do this meeting, and bring them in and conduct analysis with them, Master performers, other subject matter experts, sometimes supervisors and managers, and sometimes novice performers. And so bring a team of people together that understand the job, or are kind of new to the job because they they lend that perspective, then to what we're going to do. And we conduct our analysis. And we define, you know, what's the performance? What are the enabling knowledge and skills, blah, blah, blah. And then after that data gets approved by the client, we then do a code design, where we process the data into a designs very mechanical, if you will. And so I'm putting, and I like to tell people, okay, we're not designing by committee, we're influencing the designer, me by committee. So I is going to say, Hey, how about if I do this or do that? And people are gonna say, No, that's stupid for these, you know, whatever reasons they've got. And so I would tell them, I own the process. You own the content, you own the decisions, I'm going to just tee up, here's what we're going to go do. And I'm going to do it in front of you and take your guidance, take your feedback. And if I don't like it, I'm going to do what you say. And regardless, because you come at this from a perspective of knowing the job, knowing what the real world authentic job is, and you can tell me, you know, this needs to be learned before that, or that needs to be learned before this. And that's how I'm going to then capture that in my design. And so, but the notion of doing that when I started in 70 I had several people say, Oh, those are t groups, training groups. It's an old notion. And other people later on in the manufacturing world at Motorola said, Oh, this is like quality circles, but we're dealing with training instead of problem solving. And so, you know, the late Deming, the quality guru introduced quality circles back in the 50s, in Japan. So I had known about these things, I just had gotten frustrated and said, I'm going to do this and then started figuring out, you know, what's a better way to do this, what's a, what's an efficient way to be effective, and capture this data, because it's really all about the data. And if I can't use teams, if I can't do co analysis, code design efforts, I got to produce the data. Nonetheless, it just takes longer because I'm going to deal with one person at a time. And then I have to go round again, to reconcile the differences because one person said V, another person said, and I got to figure out is that the same thing sounds the same looks the same, but maybe it isn't. And so in doing analysis and design, it's really all about the data and doing it with a team approach. very agile ish, if you will, a very design thinking ish, if you will, nowadays, that's not new. And there are, you know, lessons that I've learned for sure, because I've had projects that go so smoothly all the time. And I've you know, so there are things from the past, when you're approaching this, under some new label, new New Age banner. There are things from the past that should could help people in getting the job done, you know, even though they're calling it something else.

Greg Williams:

So I have a confession to make. I recently did a podcast book review, with a peer about, it's called design thinking for training and development. And I'm going to have one of the authors coming on here and in a couple of episodes. And I made this flippant comment that I almost edited out, because I felt so silly about it later. And this comment was something along the lines of, hey, this book has some really fresh new things. It's not like something you would see in the 70s, or something like that. Right. And as I thought about that comment that I made, and what's going through my mind, I realized I fell victim to the very thing we're talking about, right? Because, yeah, I think there are some helpful things that are described in certain ways in that book and others, like we talked about, maybe they're slightly different because of technology changes, and the world of work and that kind of thing. But ultimately, the foundation of it is everything you've just described, it doesn't mean it's not useful, or not needed. I think there's tremendous value there. But that in that little comment that I made to my peer in that episode, I realized I kind of fell victim to this endless cycle that we can fall into where ideas are churned back and forth. And for whatever reason, we spurn things from the seven days or whatever, right. And I'm wondering, what what do you make of that? Is there a way that you've broken out of that or seen others that you've engaged with, you know, change or transform to be more appreciative and thoughtful about, you know, the foundations of the of their craft?

Guy W. Wallace:

Well, I don't think that anybody, you or your audience should overly worry about this. Yeah, it's okay. Because you'll soon discover that, Oh, this is not new. But what you need to do is you need to learn how things are being done, how things are being talked about in today's world, not 20 3040 years ago, later, there's time for that later, you know, so Master, the practices, the processes, use the language, that's current, because that helps communicate. But know, in the back of your mind that this is probably not new, there's probably roots of this going in the past, at some point, I'll learn about that. And I shouldn't be shocked or surprised. I shouldn't tell me, you know, there's a breathless enthusiasm for all these new things. And you've got to be wary about the, the the people that are breathlessly enthused about these things. But you know, take it, you know, take it for what it is, learn from it, embrace it, use it. And, and at some appropriate time in your journey, you can look back into the history and look for the history of these things here. So, I remember the 80s hearing the old gurus complaining about this and wondering, you know, what's up with that. And later on, you know, when I when I, you know, rode the wave of the next cycle. I mean, you know, back in 1990, my clients started changing their language from training to learning. Now, it was because of Peter sankeys. book, The Fifth Discipline, and focus on the learning organization. And a lot of my clients thought that their training organization was the learning organization, so they relabeled themselves. And I've made the comment, I've got a little cartoon that says, you know, this is like a whole bunch of people in my profession running into a witness protection program, hiding from the sins of their past, most people didn't do training very well, they didn't do instruction very well, they didn't then do learning very well, they didn't focused on the end in mind the performance back on the job for their learners. They do. And this was true before training became learning, there was a focus on topics, all reasonable face topics with face validity. And they would have performance validity, if we only taught people how to apply those topics in the tasks that produce outputs. But too often we didn't, too often we're trying to go for, you know, broad audiences where if we talk about anything, too, specifically, then we cut out a whole bunch of our audience because it sounds like we're, we're talking to salespeople, when, when the finance people are included in our audience as well. So we've tried to make our, you know, one size fits all. And my approach has always been, I don't care about that, I'm going to create something for the finance people. And the sales people are clamoring and they want it to, I'll pull out the finance content, do a plug and play, pull out certain kinds of things, examples and case studies or whatever and and make it for sales as well. So it's like learning active listening, Who in the world doesn't need active listening, active listening, it plays out differently in different performance contexts. And with we have examples of exactly active listening for the finance people, but saying the auditor, we can give them examples, and demonstrations and practice exercises that are unique to them. And then when we create active listing for salespeople, we can change those out and make it authentic for them. So there's a core of active listening. But if you just teach me the core of active listening, and it's all generic, what I've learned from Dr. Richard Clark, Clark is that only five to 15% of people are able to learn out of context, and take it to a new context and apply it. So 85%, people will struggle with that, because you didn't take them close enough, you didn't go that last mile, so to speak, teach them how to apply active listening in their job. So if you don't do that, they're going to go back to their job, they're going to struggle with it, they're going to revert back to what they used to do, because that didn't work. And so, you know, we take formal learning, and we don't go far enough. And we forced the learner into informal or social learning to try to figure that out. And our sources for informal or social learning, may not themselves know how to actually apply this in the best approach. So you know, if it's low stakes performance, medium stakes performance, maybe that's not a big deal. But if it's high stakes performance, then that's to be avoided.

Greg Williams:

You know, something you described earlier on, was about how maybe many, many groups as you were going through the different decades of your experience, you know, they they weren't doing training well, and then they weren't doing learning well, right. Is I feel like, it might be easy sometimes to look in the past and say, everyone in the past was not doing it. Well, good thing we've, you know, progress and all that kind of thing. And now we have these great technology tools. And we can do it well, when in reality I and maybe I'm wrong here is, is there's probably a minority, or maybe a majority in our own industry throughout all the years past, present and future, who are just scraping by and not really using the craft tools in general, like evaluation, right, or a solid analysis, or really being able to get their hands on what great content means. And so that falling short across the industry across time, we can use a scapegoat of the past, sometimes they didn't know how to do it in the past, but now we can, when in reality, it's just we all can improve. And there's, there's gaps in all of our knowledge. And rather than pointing fingers somewhere of good thing where we've come so far, it's maybe looking a little bit more reflectively on ourselves of what else am I missing? How can I improve? What can I learn from the past but also from those who are figuring things out in the present who might not even be in our industry, which I feel like the industry is doing a lot of right now. Like let's learn from marketing. Let's learn from product management and some of these other types of things. And you

Guy W. Wallace:

that's very true, but I don't think that individual instructional designers or learning experienced designers should feel at fault for this. Yeah. The lady Deming said 94% of all performance problems I'm paraphrasing him is at 94% is due to the system and management is in control of the system. So we don't do good analysis, because management hasn't set up our processes to do so when the clients say, Oh, I don't want to do that analysis, paralysis stuff, that our management is not pushing back, and demonstrating the value of that not communicating the value of doing these things, right. And it's the vast majority of people in our practice through my 40 years that don't do things really well, or they're not, they're not enabled to do it. Well, they're prohibited from doing it. Well, their management will let them so the individual people are not to blame, I think that they have the capability to learn how to do these things? Well, if they were only taught that if it was only part of their processes and their practices that their organizations put in place. You know, I, when I had a, I've had two consulting firms where I've had 15 to 25 employees. And I didn't want to run it like an artists colony, where everybody's off doing their own thing their own way. And when will it be done? They don't know, how much is it going to cost when they Oh, no, no, I wanted more of an engineering architectural approach. So that I could tell my clients, here's your fixed fee for this when we're done. And by the way, we're going to be at the end of the analysis on this date, we're going to review it with you, and you're going to approve it or modify it, and then we're going to move forward with it. And we're going to have the design down on this date, rather development and on this date. Because as a consultant, I was dealing with a lot of high stakes performance, so we couldn't put out a mini minimally viable product. Because there was too much risk, somebody could die, some you know, or it could cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. So no, this had to be really, really good. And so we would know, I learned to do pilot testing after development, I pulled the pilot testing functionality, if you will, out of my development phase. And then development phase, I create content, I do an alpha version of the beta version, and test that to get ready for a pilot test where my intent was to do a full destructive pilot test. If this training or instruction can be broken, or these job aids or performance support can be broken. I'm going to break it before we make it generally available before we make it accessible for push or pull audiences. And and so then my clients like that after they got over the shock of what do you mean by full destructive test? Well, what do you mean, you want to break it? You know, well, once you want to break it now before, it's out there for three months, and you find out that some disasters happened. So when we do our pilot testing, you know, I want other master performers that have been involved in here to do a full destructive test, I want them to rip into it, because they can tell me whether I got it accurate, complete and appropriate. But I also want to alert target audience in here, because they can't tell me whether anything was accurate, complete or appropriate? Because they don't know. So but I can measure learning, you know, what did they know, when they came in the door? What do they go? What do they know, when they go out of the door, so to speak, depending on the design and what we develop, but I can measure learning, and then I can follow them out into the field to where their jobs are to see did they apply it to the transfer? Is it having impact as Are things going better, faster and cheaper? You know? So those kinds of things, are they producing worthy outputs and doing it you know, faster than they used to, with less errors, or whatever the key metrics are from, that we were trying to impact. And, and so you know, there's just a need for us to embrace a lot of those things. So a lot of that, you know, testing comes out of the total quality management movement, a lot of the modularization of content and allowing people to adapt a learning path to their own needs that comes out of marketing with different feature sets that people could buy, you know, sometimes you buy something that's good, better or best, it's got the am radio in it in the old days here old school, or it's got the am FM radio, or it's got the cassette tape player included, what do you want? If you know, so, so you can modularize the functionality of your curriculum, and learn from the marketing organizations and then there's that part of marketing which isn't, you know, product decisions, but but his promotions, how do we promote our learning to our target audiences and especially to the target audiences managers so that they know what they might get out of this? Why would they send guy off to this learning experience? You know, what's going to be different when he comes back? And what do I need to do to to help guy you know, apply this in our context. But but so there's a lot of things we can learn from a lot of the different functions in an organization. But again, that's not new either.

Greg Williams:

So I love this conversation. There's there's a lot a lot in here. I'm wondering if there's anything I haven't asked you about related to wo aina that you think it's just really important for people to understand that I haven't asked you about,

Guy W. Wallace:

probably the key thing for newer audiences, and even existing people that are incumbents in the profession, is your network. You know, technology has enabled us to broaden our networks and to be connected to more people and learn from more people. Back in the old days, you had to go to a local chapter meetings and to the annual conference. And, you know, that was all exciting and all that stuff. And nowadays, we don't do that as much not just for the pandemic reasons, but for cost reasons. And organizations don't fund and send their people off to conferences, like they used to, it wasn't universal back in the day either. But, but so you got to be careful, it's like your mother said, you know, be careful who your friends are. So be careful who's in your network, you know, watch out for people who are breathlessly enthusiastic about things. Now, they may have valid, valuable things to offer you. But you've got to be wary of them. We'll go for some of the skeptics and people who are challenging of thoughts and doing some critical thinking, you know, working out loud that way, on social media. So network with, you know, people who are espousing valid practices, you know, a warning sign is if they're talking about learning styles as if it's a real thing and avoid them, like the plague. It's just happens to be one of my big bugaboo is, is the whole learning styles notion, but, but there's other you know, things that are aren't quite true. And we need to be wary of those. And so the best thing to do is to attach yourself follow people have conversations with them, who are in our profession, who seem to be, you know, espousing worthy practices, better practices, and are willing to share, because I think there's a lot of them out there, and it doesn't cost much to follow them.

Greg Williams:

Yeah, that's a great point. Um, it's a, it's a really excellent way to stay on top of things and to learn new things. You mentioned, some, some of the folks that really influenced you, when you were newer in the career in your career. For somebody who's kind of at that point, you're like, yeah, I am ready to kind of explore more the foundations, maybe some of the history or, or how some of the things I'm doing now has been done in the past. Wondering if you have any resource recommendations for people to learn more about some of the things that we've discussed today, some of these authors and leaders that that have come before us?

Guy W. Wallace:

Yes, I so I've got a, a, a website, with a blog and with a archive of resources from people from my past, it's usually and I'm trying to capture things from people who are older now like me, and before they go, I want to capture all everything that they're willing to contribute. So I've got this site called HP t treasures. It's a WordPress site. It's all free. It's got six or 700 articles and papers and research papers from a bunch of people like the late Joe Harless the and, but and Gary rumbler and Tom Gilbert, and some of the Guru's from the past from from the network that I was associated with. But, but but there's other people. So that's one source, but otherwise, you know, you need to follow Ruth Clark, you need to follow declerck you need to follow will call heimer and Clark Quinn and Patti shank and Miriam nealon and Jane bozarth. And Julie Dirksen, and some of the people that are a little bit older like me, there's Roger Edison and mergo Murray. Paul Kirschner, so it depends on whether you're an enterprise learning or educational learning, because there's Richard Mayer and Stephanie Moore. And they're Tyagi he's mostly in enterprise learning, but but there's a lot of people Harold's style of edge. So there's a lot of content out there that you can find online from these people and they've got valuable content to share. And it's it's a mountain it's not a molehill, it's a huge mountain. So the the hardest thing is to navigate through all of that divine, the good sources, but then it can be quite overwhelming for people. And I don't know, you know, because everybody's needs are different and their starting points are different. It's hard to say, you know, start here and Then, and here's how to navigate through all that, that that's the challenge. But people in your network, you know, if you were to contact will tell hiber I hope he's not unhappy with me mentioning that. But if you were to contact them and say, Hey, I'm trying to learn this, what would you suggest, you know, or contact me and ask, what would you suggest? We can kind of give you a starting place? Some starting points for references and resources that might be helpful.

Greg Williams:

Yeah. And, you know, in that example, I think, being able to just identify what what are your questions were, what was the first step you want to take, because it is massive, there's so much it's, you know, overwhelming. And I'm going to try to include as many of the names as I can, you just mentioned here in the, in the notes, but this is a great, a great resource that you mentioned, as well. So I'll include that in the show notes. And let folks kind of go with it as they will, along with these other articles we've talked about, but um, guy, this has been a wonderful conversation. And I appreciate the way it's had me thinking differently about the work I'm doing. And I'm really curious to explore some of the foundations of the tools I'm using now and better understand how they've been addressed. Those needs been addressed in the past. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me. I've created show notes for links to resources and more. So check that out. And you can influence the direction of the podcast and keep it going by lending your [email protected] slash LX leader. There are so many things to process apply, test out and debate in these conversations. But I feel like I'm only scratching the surface. social learning is real folks. And so let's learn together. I invite you to join the conversation by following the learning experience leader LinkedIn page, which is linked in the show notes. I hope to see you there soon. Until next time, keep learning