I come not to bury training, only to put it in its place

I’ve taught ABCD objectives (audience, behavior, condition, and degree) on many continents, and in universities, companies, and government agencies. I promise you that students of instructional design appreciate ABCD. They rely on the mnemonic to help them produce and screen their efforts. Admittedly trickier is demonstrating where objectives come from, establishing that valuable link between the tasking, analysis, goals, and objectives. That is a story for another time. —Allison Rossett

Methods like ABCD work very well when you know what you are trying to achieve and understand the systems you are operating in. They work well when you have established best or good practices to base the training on. But what happens in complex environments, when “the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance”? This is the situation many workers find themselves in today.
cynefin education training
In complex environments, a Probe-Sense-Respond approach is required, and this is something that training and education programmes, designed in advance and directed by management, cannot address. While people still need to be trained and educated, that alone will not prepare them for a networked workplace that demands the integration of learning and working.
probe sense respond
The increasing complexity of our workplaces means we have to accept the limitations of training and education as we have practiced them. There is a growing need to help people be more creative and to solve complex problems, on a daily basis and in concert with others. Even the best training programmes cannot help here. Organizations (HR, L&D, OD, KM, etc) need to add significantly more thought and resources to enable people to learn socially, share cooperatively, and work collaboratively.  Work is changing, and so must learning support. Making better carriages will not help.

2 Responses to “I come not to bury training, only to put it in its place”

  1. Cognita Group

    This is a unique and reflective approach to education and training. I liked the Probe-Sense-Respond technique mentioned here as a rational solution to the underlying problem that is essentially complex.


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