April 17, 2014 by AP-Networks Leave a Comment It’s a given that process breakdowns will happen. No matter how good we are, no matter how automated and fine-tuned our operations, most processes involve humans at some point. And humans are notoriously imperfect. Assessing and understanding all of the causes behind process breakdowns is the key to mitigating the impact of those imperfections. When we find out that something has gone wrong, questions are asked and answered, and conclusions are drawn regarding the proper solution. But often, the right questions are not asked of the right people. Instead, questioning stops once the first level of error—often human—is found, and the common conclusion of “We need training!” is drawn. While this is often true, companies that rely solely on training to solve employee performance problems are often missing opportunities to improve other aspects of their operations. As Malcolm Forbes said, “It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.” And that’s where the difference between simple questioning and thorough analysis comes into play. Taking the time to methodically analyze process breakdowns, even those as simple as a client receiving the wrong version of a document, can uncover a skill or knowledge gap that can be resolved with training. And it can also highlight other issues that should be addressed to adequately prevent future mistakes. Let’s take a simple example: An employee skips a step in a chemical mixing procedure, resulting in an unusable product. The immediate reaction might be, “Person X made a mistake.” This rush to judgment identifies Person X as “the problem” and he/she is re-trained. It’s likely that Person X won’t make that exact mistake again. But how do you ensure that Person X won’t make a similar mistake, or that the same mistake won’t be repeated by a different employee? Digging deeper with systematic problem-solving tools to find out why Person X made the mistake can shed light on other contributing factors. In our example, a thorough investigation might find that, in addition to improving the knowledge and skills of the employee through training, a new procedure verification process is needed; or that a lax organizational culture condoned unapproved deviations and shortcuts. The key to success lies in striving to improve employees’ knowledge and skill level, while also remaining open to additional actions that can help your organization fully take advantage of those sharpened skills. The bottom line is that training is not a magic bullet. Rather, it is a powerful tool for companies truly invested in understanding the hurdles they face, and overcoming them. This is an important distinction—those companies who understand it are poised to maximize their return on the investment they make in training and capability development programs. The better your assessment of “what’s our problem?,” the more effectively you’ll be able to solve it. Not only is assessment key to understanding why training is needed and what other measures are needed to complement it, it’s also the first step in developing a curriculum that works. The ADDIE (Assess-Design-Develop-Implement-Evaluate) model of curriculum development is used to ensure that the needs of both the learner and the organization are met, ultimately resulting in measurable performance improvements. We’ll delve further into the ADDIE model in our next CD&L blog post. Authored by Susan Hanley – Instructional Designer | AP-Networks To find out when new posts go live, follow us on LinkedIn.