How To Make Human Performance Technology More Agile
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Ways To Make Human Performance Technology More Agile

In November, I talked about how ISD models will not give you faster, cheaper, more efficient course design projects which is what Agile promises us. Agile helps enable an Instructional Designer to meet the constantly changing demands of an organization's needs while moving through to the completion of a project.

In this article, I want to talk about HPT, Human Performance Technology. There is a lot of synergy between HPT and LDX and they are intertwined. HPT looks at the entire ecosystem of the performer while LDX encompasses the ecosystem of the learning design. The two systems are not mutually exclusive, so how do we make Human Performance Technology more agile?

Adopting HPT as an organization mindset is one of the characteristics of agile or transformative HPT. This includes Subject Matter Experts and stakeholders from beginning to the end of the HPT process. It includes learners in iterative testing that triggers and guarantees that both instructional and non-instructional interventions are identified, developed, and implemented. The image below represents the Transformative HPT model in a simplified format.

Curtis Pembrook

In the upfront analysis, we use rapid performance analysis to pinpoint the problem to be solved, confirm the problem, and refine the solutions as we move through the process. This gives us an agile start to the performance improvements to be made, and the iterative cycles continue through the process.

Curtis Pembrook

In our Transformative HPT toolkit, we use collaboration as a tool through the process. We look at the actual performance vs optimal performance. The 'what is happening now' versus 'how do we want the performance to look at' which tells us how big the gap is and gives us a baseline metric to evaluate the intervention after the solution is implemented. We use performer persona’s – note not the same as user personas. With the performer persona, we are looking at the needs and goals of the performer along with the motivation and the pain points of the job. The performer persona coupled with a story mapping help us to identify the root cause of the performance issue and helps to ensure intervention selection be it a training or a non-training intervention will be effective. We also use empathy mapping as a tool to understand what the performer is feeling and thinking as well as what they worry about. The empathy map can be a part of the performer persona.

The PCR’s pinpointing, confirming, and refining are critical to transformative HPT. Pinpointing gives us the deliverables of problem identification and validation plans using tools such as rapid gap analysis and needs assessment, extant data, design sessions, Subject Matter Experts, and stakeholder interviews. Confirming gives us the deliverable of categorization of problems to address using tools such as affinity mapping and user stories, and refining gives us the deliverable of the backlog grid in agile speak. Tools which aid in refining are the user stories, task/content analysis, job aids, EPSS, and even mentoring initiatives.

Agile Human Performance Technology must be instructional solution-neutral and be based on the following credo:

  1. Foster human performance improvement over instructional methods and solutions.
  2. Promote cross-functional teams that add value to organizational goals and performance.
  3. Foster collaboration among designers, performers/learners, stakeholders, and SME’s over working in silos.

There is synergy between HPT and LXD. The key is to re-align the Agile "credo" so that it better fits the human performance improvement context and infuse HPT methods within each iteration cycle.

When faced with preconceived performance solutions by managers, we suggest that designers use the Transformative HPT process by pinpointing the performance problem using rapid needs assessment/gap analysis, confirming problems through affinity mapping, user stories, and tagging, and, finally, recommending solutions by creating a design/task backlog grid with can serve as a springboard for both instructional and non-instructional interventions.

Next up, we will discuss the elements of Learning Experience Design and the HPT connection.

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