- What will it take for me to be ready to change how I work?
- Am I confident that I can learn the new way to work and perform as well or better than now?
- What support will be there for me as I change the way I work?
In the interview below Paul talks about workplace performance, the gap between training and competency, BYOD, and more. Please read the full interview, and leave comments in the comments section below. Training Station: Why don’t we begin by just giving a bit about your background in the learning industry. Paul Terlemezian: Here are some anecdotes of experiences that have influenced my choices and work in the learning industry. – My earliest paid working experiences (in the 1960’s) were with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration.) I had the opportunity to work with visual recognition technologies and artificial intelligence very early in my career. These experiences helped me understand the potential for technology to accomplish complex tasks that were relatively simple for humans (but perhaps dangerous or time consuming.) – While earning my Master’s Degree in Mathematics (early in the 1970’s) I had the opportunity to teach Differential Equations to Chemical Engineering Majors. One of my students asked me how he would use a differential equation while working as a chemical engineer. I had no idea – so I called a friend who had graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and had been working as a chemical engineer for two years. He had not knowingly used a differential equation – and could not provide an example. I still wonder today about theoretical vs. practical aspects of learning. – Upon graduation from college – the first 12 years of my career was involved in customer training for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC.) I got exposed to eLearning, simulations and performance support in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I taught, developed, supervised and then managed the P&L of customer training – as a business. I learned that training needed to be relevant enough to compete with “work” and valuable enough to deserve having a fee. – In 2003 I started iFive Alliances. Its purpose is to accelerate the impact of learning in the workplace by focusing on results, technology and collaboration. Clients of iFive benefit from my experiences with industries that are more effective than the learning industry with these three factors. I adapt and apply what these industries have learned to help accelerate learning impact in the workplace while growing the revenues of my clients. TS: A lot of focus among learning officers these days is on performance improvement tools. Specifically, in the moment of actual work, how we can best aid the worker in performing the task in the most successful way possible. What do you feel is the proper balance between training and performance improvement tools? Is the focus in the right place? PT: Focusing on performance improvement in the moment of actual work is definitely the direction of 21st century practitioners. It is Act III of a IV Act Play. Act I is content, Act II is simulation, Act III is performer support. Act IV is described in my answer to the next question. I’ll use an example – when moving between levels in a large shopping – should I take the escalator (performance improvement) of should I be taught how to apply my walking skills? While one might be better for speed the other might be better for my health – and of course we could blend the two – relying upon human judgment. I believe that the focus needs to be on developing judgment (e.g. “to tweet or not” or when to send an email vs. make a phone call vs. how to send an email or make a phone call.) TS: What are some new and developing technological tools that you are excited about these days? PT: Act IV is task automation and this is where I get excited about a new technology. Think about the simple analogy of being able to know what time it is. We used to provide content about the big hand and the little hand (or perhaps how to gauge shadows from the sun) – this was Act 1. With Act II we adjusted the hands on a clock and asked the learner to tell us what time it was. In Act III – we provided digital watches (obsoleting much of the earlier content on the big hand and the little hand.) This also obsoleted simulations and lead to the development of automatic timing devices where we no longer need to tell what time it is in order to initiate an action. Of course we still “tell time” but think of all the tasks that occur automatically without needing our intervention related to time. So, I am excited about ACT IV technologies. Recently I have spent some time learning about research and application of assistive technologies to help people who have incurred severe brain or spinal injury. My intent is to accelerate performance breakthroughs for everyone in the workplace and thereby bring more investment dollars to the research effort while reducing the cost of the products that result from the research. Augmented reality, voice analysis, immersive simulation, interactive video and performer support technologies are examples of current projects that my clients are engaged with. TS: From my experience speaking to people involved in employee training, there is a gap period between the end of training and the time when the worker is actually able to work independently and proficiently at a high level. What are some ways to best connect learning to performance? How do you think learning can and should continue after an initial training course? PT: Closing the gap between learning and performance has been a “current” topic for as long as I can recall. Father Guido Sarducci has helped us understand this very well – https://ifivealliances.ning.com/video/the-five-minute-university. We are in this “rut” because we have focused on content retention. We need to change our thinking and our focus. Technology is mandating a change in our thinking – and while we are not likely to see everything being replaced by Act IV technologies – we can focus on learner readiness, learner ability to manage change and learner support – rather than content retention. So as organizations, managers and for ourselves as performers – we need to ask three questions and invest to help workers answer three questions:Having a blog allows me the opportunity to periodically interview some learning professionals who can share some real and genuine insight from their years of experience. It’s an opportunity for me to be able to engage on some of the biggest issues in L&D these days, and to learn from them as well. With that said, here is a really great new interview that I think you’ll find interesting. I had the privilege of corresponding with Paul Terlemezian, an Atlanta, Georgia-based L&D professional and founder of iFive Alliances, a management consultancy firm which advises organizations on training and performance issues, with a focus on technology and collaboration. Paul has more than 20 years of experience in the high technology and training industries, including work for IBM, Sterling Software, and more. In October 2011, Paul launched Georgia LEARNS in an effort to increase the implementation of innovative learning methods in the workplace by fostering collaboration amongst entities within the training industry.