Prioritizing Who for Formal Learning LO20597

Scott Simmerman (
Sun, 7 Feb 1999 10:31:44 -0500

Replying to LO20548 --

Genene Koebelin posed a most interesting set of questions to the group as
it relates to "real-life problems" (as if some of us deal with the
after-life!). She asked:

1)How was the problem diagnosed? Did the original, apparent problem turn
out to be the "real" problem?
2)How were interventions determined? Who was involved? From what
3)What interventions were tried?
4)What were the results? Of the interventions that failed, why did they
fail? Of the interventions that worked, why did they work?

I mentally sorted through a whole bunch of "case studies" in my head as
examples. But they were extraordinarily varied. But here is a general
overview of what I think is a successful pattern of discovery and

Problem diagnosis is about as varied as anything. Sometimes the issue is
completely clear and obvious. The exemplary performers are doing things
differently than the others and the issue is identifying the factors and
transferring learning (and then generating new behaviors in others).
Other times and more often, the main problem is all muddied by other

Systems thinking and brainstorming and discussion are good ways of smoking
out an issue with merit and impact. You don't always have to focus on the
"real problem" since it is more effective to have a success fixing
something and then moving on to fix something else. I think this is a
good part of the LO approach - teaching people how to fish and actually
have them catching and eating some!

On interventions, I feel that "Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny."

There is a longish description of this in my website Resources but the
core is that the best way to implement a new program is to follow the main
tactics and strategies of PREVIOUSLY SUCCESSFUL initiatives in that
organization. Cultures differ greatly between organizations (even within
companies) and pathing on previously successful programs is generally a
highly successful strategy. You can also identify the "failure factors"
from unsuccessful initiatives to avoid.

Failure is caused by any number of factors. The "Sociopathic" executives
can be VERY clever in their sabotage behaviors and you will never know
what hit you. "Nobody Ever Washes A Rental Car" is a truism in
organizations in that people must take ownership initiative and have peer
support for making changes.

Champions are often a critical factor. If a few people drive it forward
and exert the energy, they can very often push the initiative
successfully. And teams work to give you the peer support for

I put together a longish article on change on the website called "Teaching
the Caterpillar to Fly" that captures more of the thinking behind this
post. The potential for improvement always exists. But trying to get
people to see and understand is a difficult part of any leadership


For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, Ph.D. Performance Management Company - 800-659-1466

A great source for FREE tools and training resources: <>

"Even caterpillars can fly if they would just lighten up!"

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