Written by:

Holly Macdonald


June 30, 2011

I’m working with a real variety of clients and projects right now.  During a recent meeting with a client in the health care industry, who is exploring “Knowledge Translation” it hit me.

I am in the business of behaviour change.

In each and every project, I am working with my client(s) to figure out how to get people to do something different.  My first question is “What do you want people to do?” followed by “Why aren’t they doing it then?”.

In this client meeting, we spent quite a bit of time talking about change and sharing snippets from Switch and the Checklist Manifesto (client had read it, I haven’t). I did like the portion of this review featuring Dan Boorman.  It was great to talk about training in the context of doing things differently.

A few days later in a meeting with another client who trains and mentors CEOs, it came up again. In fact, during this meeting, I whipped out my handy dry erase pen and we wrote the Behavior Engineering Model (pdf) on the whiteboard as a design tool.  We were talking about tools and processes and it wasn’t really training that we were after at that stage, it was more of a support mechanism. If we assumed that they need some skill/knowledge, how will we provide expectations/feedback, tools/processes and consequences or incentives? We were really jamming at that stage!

(I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too much jargon, so I’ve saved the Five Moments of Need for another time. The elearning coach gives a nice synopsis on her blog.)

I’m working with another client to help them roll out a new system to their employees, which is more of a user adoption challenge.  We talked a lot about performance support in there and weaving together a range of tools. I really liked this model from Future Knowledge on User Adoption:

These key ingredients of User Adoption are:

  • User Experience (System Interface Design)
  • Change Management
  • Stakeholder Communications
  • End-User Training
  • Performance Support – post go-live

I think the best part of each of these projects is that they were already thinking about behavior change and/or performance support, but didn’t necessarily call it that, there was really no “selling” of the concept involved. I think it did help that I understood their challenge and we didn’t talk about “training” but outcomes.

I saw this quote (Kahlil Gibran) in a tweet, which so perfectly sums up my perspective:

A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.

I couldn’t agree more.