By Clark Quinn

In thinking about how learning and development needs to shift to accommodate this new day and age, I wondered why the term learning and development (let alone training and development) bothered me, and it is because I believe we need to shift from thinking about learning to thinking about performance. My first take was that training and development was not enough. Even learning and development is not enough. We need to focus on developing individual and team skills and contributions, but where does performance support fit?

P&DAs is another way to think about it; I started with the combination of optimal execution and continual innovation and worked backward. I was trying to find the elements that contribute to each.  What are the components for which we can use technology to improve individual and group contribution to optimal execution? What can we do to similarly improve continual innovation?

For execution, we have training, performance support, performance coaching, assistance from others by cooperating, and self-designed or acquired support as part of personal knowledge management (PKM).  For innovation, we want self-development by PKM, collaboration among individuals, mentoring to develop individuals and ideas, and education to introduce new skills ideas. Elements of those components fall variously under formal, performance focus, or e-community.


Underpinning this is a culture where cooperation and collaboration can flourish. Note that there are opportunities for support of those component skills, like developing coaching and mentoring skills, that cut across the areas, but this seemed to be a manageable way to look at it.

Going further, when I look at what contributes to execution, it ends up being about performance. When the focus is supporting innovation, we can call it development. What we can, and should, be focusing on is both supporting performance in the moment and developing individual and team capability over time.  The skills are performance consulting and facilitation of development and innovation. Thus, the field, to me, is really about performance and development.

This is a first cut, and I am willing to consider improvements. There are layers below this that are being glossed over to focus on the top level, but I really do think that we need a broader focus, and this seems to capture the way my thinking is going. So, what am I missing?

Reprinted with permission. Copyright, Clark Quinn: Quinnovation, November 5, 2013

ClarkQuinnAbout the Author
Learnlets is a blog capturing Clark Quinn’s learnings about learning and serves as the official Quinnovation blog. Clark is an independent consultant, making companies smarter by improving their organizational learning experience design processes and infrastructure, e.g., their strategy. He has a PhD in applied cognitive science; and his interests are at the intersection of learning, organizational strategy, technology, design, and wisdom. He is the author of Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games, Designing mLearning: Tapping Into the Mobile Revolution for Organizational Performance, and The Mobile Academy: mLearning for Higher Education. He is also the senior director of interaction and mobile for the Internet Time Alliance. He speaks and publishes regularly in the usual places and some relatively unusual places.