The International Society for Performance Improvement has established standards which provide a helpful model for designing a successful performance intervention.   In my experience, failing to follow a systematic process is one of the main reasons an intervention is unsuccessful.  Whether the intervention is traditional training or some other approach (video, multimedia, etc) it likely will not resolve the actual need.  Following a systematic process will help ensure you identify the right issues and are focusing resources in the right way.  Without systematic planning the final product may resolve your problem; However it is just as likely you will waste time, exceed your scope and budget, and not be satisfied with the result.

The first of ISPI’s standards is identifying the intended result. One of the reasons ISPI’s standards are valid is because they don’t focus on solutions too early.  Discussing results, instead of solutions, promotes constructive conversation that helps establish a a common understanding of the issue.  Usually a group can come to agreement on the desired result.  Sometimes it can’t.  When a group is unable to come to agreement on an intended result it is usually an indication that another issue needs to be addressed first.  This should not be viewed as a bad thing.

When a person or organization embarks on a project without being able to articulate the intended results it is unlikely they will be satisfied with the final product.  This process is similar to planning a wedding.  One of the first decisions you make when planning a wedding is to select a caterer.  Some factors that affect your decision are budget, the season, and the time of the wedding.  If the couple is not unified in their expectations it is unlikely they will be satisfied with their choices.  Experienced caterers know what questions to ask and are able to focus the couple on what really matters to them.  This discussion helps ensure the couple is unified in their expectations and ultimately happy with their decision.

A similar process should be used when planning a performance intervention.  If you are not satisfied with the results in a given area, don’t be too quick to propose a solution.  Take time to write down your expectations. Ask questions.  Seek perspectives from others.  You will find the time you spend articulating your expectations early will be worth it and may save you time and money at the end of your project.

In the next few posts I will cover more of ISPI’s standards.  Next is context.