Posts Tagged ‘Proficiency’

I’m working on a video script. Take a look.

Let’s take a minute to look at the difference between a competency model and a proficiency definition.
A competency model is the traditional way to identify what needs to be included in a typical training program.
A competency model breaks things down into three parts…Skills.. Knowledge.. and Attitudes. For example, an employee demonstrates good listening skills or an employee knows the features and benefits of our products are examples of competencies.
When you build a competency model you end up with a long list of items to include in training. The downside of this approach is that it often misses how competencies work together in different combination to produce a desired result.
For example, knowing the features and benefits of our products is part of how a salesperson makes a presentation, answers questions and even fills out an order.
A proficiency model, on the other hand, looks at the world from a completely different point of view. Proficiency is both a measure of performance and a set of observable behaviors that describe what a proficient employee produces and how the employee must work to achieve those results. Think of proficiency as a picture or snap shot of what success looks like on the job.
So with these two definitions in mind, here is the important difference. With a competency model, you can master all the competencies and not produce the desired results on the job. In other words, all the pieces don’t add up to the whole.
With a proficiency definition, the end result is completely spelled out and training doesn’t end until the employee becomes proficient. The result is important rather than all the pieces and parts.

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With Learning Paths, we use proficiency models or proficiency definitions rather than competency models.  This video briefly describes the difference.  In many respects, with a proficiency model we are looking at the big picture and the whole job or task rather than small pieces.  Also instead of looking a capabilities, we are looking at measurable actions.

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As I promised here is the list of famous college drop outs. 

Ben Aflec  Carl Bernstein  Eleanor Clift  Jackie CooganJames Fenimore Cooper  Claire Danes  Michael DellHarrison Ford  Bill Gates   David Geffen  William Randolph HearstJohn Hughes  Don Imus  Reggie Jackson  Harry Truman  Steve JobsRush Limbaugh  Walter Cronkite  Abraham Lincoln  John MackeyRay Romano  Theodore RooseveltKarl Rove    Michael RubinWilliam Safire  Frank Sinatra  Will Smith  Daniel Snyder  Leo TolstoyTed Turner  William McKinley  Jesse “The Body” Ventura, DeWitt WallaceGeorge Washington  John Wayne  Kanye WestBruce Willis  Anna Wintour  Steve Wozniak  F. Scott FitzgeraldRosie O’Donnel  Ellen Degeneres  H Wayne Huizenga  Emile ZolaMark Zuckerberg  Barry Goldwater  Dustin Hoffman  Jerry Yang  Tom Hanks   Warren Beatty  Richard Gere  Burt Reynolds   John Jacob Astor  Irving Berlin  Chuck Berry  Milton BradleyCharles Bronson  Michael Keaton Brad Pitt  Yoko OnoNina Totenberg  James Cameron  Sharon Stone  Bill MurrayDan Akroyd  Frank Lloyd Wright  Tom Monaghan  John Glenn  Charles Lindbergh  J. Paul Getty  Robert Frost

And now for an added bonus, here are the billionaire dropouts. 

Paul Allen   Ray Kroc   Henry Ford   Andrew Carnegie   Kirk Kerkovian   Richard Branson   Bill Gates   Larry Ellison   Steve Jobs   Barry Diller           J. Paul Getty   Michael Dell   Carl Ichan   David H. Murdock    Stephen Spielberg    Theodore Waitt     George Westinghouse   Jerry Yang 

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All too often instructional design is focused on the “what” question.  What do you need to know and do?  We often ask top perfomers these questions.  About 90% of what we get is what we expect and another 10% is new stuff.  This is all important.  Helps build competency models and learning objectives.

 However, the question I like to ask which reveals a lot about what needs to be done is the question “how.”  In other words, I know what you learned, but “how” did you really learn it.  This reveals the gap between what you were taught and what you learned.  Two very different things.

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I think most of us would agree that practice is the main element in becoming truly proficient at anything.  Think about anything you’re really good at.  How much practice time have you spent?

However, practice alone often won’t get you there.  Here’s my evidence.  Have you ever gone to a driving range and watched people hit golf balls.  The majority of those people will never really get much better and only about 1% will really get it and be able to shoot in the 70s.

A certain amount of the formula is aptitude especially for something physical.  As they say in basketball, we can teach you a jump shot but we can’t teach you to be tall. 

What’s missing is the coaching and a practice routing that puts you on the right track and gives you the feedback you need.  A lot of people can’t actually feel what’s happening on their backswing.  They might think they have a long slow backswing when it’s actually short and fast.

So if you translate this to business tasks like selling or presentations what does this mean?  The path to proficiency is practice with coaching and feedback. 

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We use proficiency and time to proficiency as key measures of training.  This is different than looking at competencies or objectives.  Proficiency is a results meaure that looks at not only changes in behavior but actual output.  I like to look at three things when defining proficiency:

  1. Output/Quality – what is the level and quality of what’s produced.  This can be in terms of things like sales, margin, errors, saftey, etc.
  2. Independence – does the individual work without a lot of supervision.  This can often be seen in amount help needed or level of initiative.
  3. Confidence – does the individual act with confidence as seen by fluency and morale.

There’s a lot more to proficiency that I’ll put in future posts.

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We tend to look at proficiency and time to proficiency as major measures for training.  We look at proficiency as the results or output of doing something.  It’s not being able to or knowledgeable about but rather demonstrating a level of performance. 

Once you have that definition, you can then look at competencies that might lead to that level of proficiency or the learning objectives for a piece of training that will lead to that level of performance.  All too often people start out with a competency model which is skills, knowledge and attitudues or attributes and miss how these competencies connect and interact to lead to a level of performance. 

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