I was provoked into this blog post by none other than the eLearning Provocateur, Ryan Tracey. I do agree with the fact that you have to take the good with the bad when speaking of frameworks, but my caution is in that there’s usually more bad than good and it’s increasingly more difficult to separate the two.
I’ve re-purposed some of the comments I made on Ryan Tracey’s blog, check out his blog for some of the original discussion we had.
I don’t mean to sound negative with that statement, but the fact remains that people in their infinite desire to simplify things with a framework and often do it at the perils of the complexity of reality. Yes, people often have the inability to separate the good from the bad and take a framework as a whole solution that’s a magic bullet.
It’s not our fault though!
We’re wired to want to believe we can grasp a complex topic that easily. The problem is, it’s often not possible so we end up with this framework that we follow to a flaw, missing the bigger complexity of the task at hand.
Most of this post is relevant to frameworks in general, but I’m speaking in terms of training frameworks for the most part so keep that in mind as you read.
Every day I encounter the desire L&D has to over-engineer every problem. The willingness to take orders only exacerbates the problem too.
So now counter to the complexity argument and their inability to cover the complexity of many tasks, the other problem with frameworks is that they can make a simple requirement more complex than it needs to be.
Think about the framework of tell me, show me, let me (this was the beginning framework Ryan Tracey used in his post) and how simple it seems. When it comes to training this makes most tasks more complex than they need to be and over complicates the job of L&D professionals.
Telling someone how to do something (or even about it!) is a lot of information, then you add showing it to them into the mix and it has now become overwhelming and tiresome. In most circumstances I’d skip the tell me and show me and move right into the let me. Most people are going to get the most value out of doing a task and if necessary only hearing about the why if it’s relevant to the task at hand.
Are Frameworks Useful?
Sometimes frameworks can be useful but only if you have a great knowledge of the requirements in the first place.
Do I use any frameworks? No, every project is so unique that no framework can cover them in a good way. Even if they’re useful for one project, they could be harmful and lead you down the wrong path for another project.
A framework can’t take into account what people care about, the people that are being trained. So, while it may help you cover a great deal of information efficiently, information is often not the answer though.
Flowcharts, those are a whole different thing though! If it helps you get on the right path and simplify the solution to what’s really needed, then they’re great.
What’s more dangerous than using a confining or bloating training framework? Creating training when it’s not needed at all (which is often!).
Even when training is needed, more times than not the designers priorities don’t align with the priorities of the end recipient so the motivation isn’t there no matter how much it’s pretty or interactive.
There are deeper issues here though because often times a users priorities don’t even align with the organizations! To be fair to the user though, there seems to sometimes be a mutual disrespect for one another.
As an example, in my organizations there’s often a disconnect between what nurses care about and what the business cares about therefor nurses are going to do what matters to them no matter what the business tells them because often the business only has their own interests in mind.
Nurses care about taking care of their patients and that’s their first priority. If the business gets in the way of doing that then nurses will absolutely find a way to get around it in order to better serve their patients.
If this is the case then there are deeper issues with software, procedures, etc. that training won’t ever fix. That’s where the importance of a flowchart comes in to figure out if training is even the issue! I like Cathy Moore’s “is training really the answer?” flowchart. I think you’ll be surprised how often it’s not.
So, whether somebody knows or doesn’t know what they need to know, putting it in front of them often isn’t the answer. It’s an easy answer (frameworks are great for making things seem easy) but it’s not an answer that will solve the problem. A deeper analysis is needed for each unique situation and frameworks can’t help you there, good old fashioned analysis, thinking, and talking to people can never be replaced.
What do you think of frameworks? Are you a fan or not?