Patterns of performance

Harold Jarche recently discussed again his helpful diagram that capsulizes the process of performance analysis:

Harold Jarche on analyzing performance

He makes a point that I agree with — essentially, that learning is an internal activity.  We can work on creating the interventions, on changing the influences available to the individual, but we can’t make learning happen.

That’s not to say there aren’t good ways to go about creating those interventions, just that they’re no guarantee of results.

Some of my recent projects have been with large, highly regulated organizations.  They struggle to balance compliance requirements (as in, “demonstrate that everyone on Widget Line 3 knows not to return an open bag of product to the warehouse”) with conflicting views of what training looks like.  And with the organization’s production and quality targets.

I’d guess that in nearly every large organization, you’ll find several managers with a sign like the one on the desk of a labor relations director I worked with:

Firings will continue until morale improves.

Usually, the sign is sardonic, but sometimes you’ll find a cultural attitude that embodies the thinking.  It’s not enough to have a place for the worker to sign and date the form; the procedure needs to say not “complete the form” but “complete the form and sign and date it.”

It’s the supervisory equivalent of reading your PowerPoint text, and equally effective.