Sunday was the last night in Alexandria for my training project, and I had dinner my colleagues Ken and Vin along with Vin's wife Wendy. Vin and Wendy are from Toronto, Canada, so it was interesting to hear their perspective on the global economy as well as politics in the United States. As trainers, our conversation naturally turned to the role that learning professionals are playing in today's companies. One point we all agreed on was action doesn't equal performance.
Here's an example. A client of mine recently asked for a little help solving a performance challenge. They had an intercom system that controlled access to their office and their office manager was usually the person who answered the intercom. The problem was when the office manager went to lunch or had a day off, other people didn't follow proper security procedures when letting people into the office.
It was tempting to address the problem with a flurry of activity, such as creating a procedure, holding a training class, and sending out emails to the office staff. But, none of these actions would likely have solved the problem. Why? Because at its core, the issue was making information available at the right place and the right time (i.e. when people answered the intercom) that was rarely needed. This realization helped us resist the urge to engage in a flurry of activity, take a deep breath, and solve the problem by posting a small sign with a three-step intercom answering procedure directly above the intercom. Problem solved.
This point is illustrated with the hilarious comic, "The Adventures of Action Item... Professional Superhero!"