February 2005

Again with the corporate orientation—assuming that there are problems that need to be solved and that individuals can be assessed and then pumped full of the necessary knowledge—gap analysis. Voila-problem solved. Also very management-focused (witness her second and fourth goals for needs analysis—to gain management support and to determine the costs and benefits of training—and her purposes and objectives for conducting na—org goals and gap analysis). Org needs and task analysis are her main foci. Employee career development and individual analysis is farther down on her list and she doesn’t recognize employees’ abilities and only in passing mentions employees’ ability to provide recommendations. Though she is not as emphatic as L and P in saying that org. is fully responsible for determining needs, it comes out to the same thing because whether the org does the na according to its own goals oor the trainer does it according to the org’s criteria, it’s still the org’s criteria and not so much that of the employees. As with Lynton and Pareek, trainers focus is determining what can be remedied by training and then pulling together plan and resources to do it. The rest of the article deals with ways to gather data-surveys/questionnaires, interviews, performance appraisals, observation, tests, assessment centers, focus groups, document reviews, and advisory committees.

Contrasts models of professional education—“front end loading” of knowledge, skills, abilities, theories that practitioners were thought to need before beginning to practice vs. “practitioner-centered” model that assumes that practitioners continually construct their own understandings of their work which can be enhanced by theory or other critical perspectives that are useful to their work. Foley says that everyone already has frameworks that they use to make sense of the world and the job of adult educators is to critically examine and develop these frameworks to make our practice more effective. Foley clearly privileges informal theory or “reflection-in-action” where practitioners’ informal theories and tacit knowledge, gained through actual practice, are made explicit through reflection then tested through action and are again reflected on and then refined in action in a never-ending (or what should be a never ending spiral (the action-reflection spiral diagrammed on pg. 11). I like the idea that Foley draws from Usher and Schon’s work that “practitioners do not apply principles, they try to find their way through complex and ambiguous situations.” (14) I also like that Foley recognizes the place of formal theory from a variety of disciplines as away of critically reflecting on actual experience, not as an intellectual exercise or a set of templates to follow unquestioningly or that exist in the world in a pure form. Foley also lays out three paradigms or frameworks—scientific or positivist (rationally observe-hypothesize-test in “objective” manner), interpretive (liberal progressive idea that knowledge is “subjective and socially constructed” by individuals) and critical (radical and revolutionary idea that knowledge is constructed and controlled not only by individual subjectivity but by social and cultural systems of varying levels of power).

from Lynton, R.P. and Pareek, K., Training for devlopment, West Hartford, CT: 1990.

More of a corporate model of training—one that sees efficiency as the main goal of training, ROI, notable from language such as “human resources” “An effective training strategy therefore focuses on making training an effective instrument of action in the field” They have the training and action part down but the reflection on theoretical perspectives is missing. They begin from the perspective that before beginning training it must be decided whether training will accomplish the goals of the organization (with an uncritical assumption that the organization is the best judge of what goals and skills need to be transmitted to workers). “The training system cannot set the goals of change. It is very important to be quite clear about this point. National and organizational policies set those goals. Trainers may contribute—but as citizens. The task of the training sytem is to work only on goals which training can help to attain, and which are adequately backed by organizational contributions.” (30)The trainer’s role is one of advising whether or not the organization’s goals can actually be accomplished through training (or whether they are better addressed through organizational change), defining the part that training will play in accomplishing the goal, and then planning the actual program (sequencing, timing, number of attendees/trained personnel needed, resources needed, etc.). Lynton and Pareek recognize the error of proceeding without clear goals. “If this situation prevails at the organization’s end, it tempts the organization to make the first classic error, namely, to proceed as if the training system is capable of doing the work organization’s homework.” On one level, wordy mcword (I’ve done that myself) but on the other hand according to the asset-based approach, of course the training system can do that work and should, because they need to help identify the trainees capacities and vulnerabilities. From the sheer perspective of “getting it done,” Lynton and Pareek’s methods are effective and classic in corporate training—proper goals and objectives,, clear measurements of inputs and outputs, just-in-time training, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and a focus on the organization rather than the needs of the individual. It’s a very formulaic model that doesn’t allow for ambiguity or an organic analysis of the situation or practitioners’ actual experiences. There is some recognition of cognitive psychology and individual frameworks or paradigms in the “unfreezing-moving-refreezing” model but it treats individuals primarily as objects to be acted on and guided in the direction that the training has decided. There is also some mention of nonformal and more “action-reflection oriented models or locally-influenced or dispersed models of training where local actors have more of an impact on the training and its objectives but central control is still a major theme. Lynton and Pareek go on to identify six major orientations of what they call content and process modalities (ways of training): academic, laboratory, activity, action, person-development, and organization-development. They clearly place a great deal of emphasis on the latter (devoting space for six examples). They do recognize some of the elements of more transformative orientations—for instance noting in the action orientation section an example that explicitly states that the project in question met its action goals but failed in the larger goals of encouraging community participation, initiative and collaboration and including in the person-development orientation an acknowledgement of the uses of reflection on practice. In their emphasis on organizational development they do acknowledge as well the need to respond to “needs that actually arise in carrying out specific changes,” the need for flexible responses to changing situations, and the differences between ideal and actual situations; however, they are still very focused on long-term planning and justify flexibility in response to situations in terms of efficiency and economy in the long term. At the very end of the article they do say that training systems and organizations have different styles and need to be matched correctly at least.

How do you train people–development practioners and devlopment trainers–for learning in an area that is so ambiguous and ever-changing? How do you give people th etools to take their current practice and articulate what they know and learn what they will need ot know? Mann boils this down to three questions:

What is the purpose of learning? His purpose is to get people to consider the context of their practice along with their actual practice and how they affect one another–for this he advocates for presence (attending to the whole without being consumed), getting out of the box (thinking in new ways), thinking strategically, and getting things done (it’s all about what you’ve done at the end of the day).

What is the approach to learning? He says you learn as much from how you learn as you do from the content and to encourage the kinds of purposes or metagoals as he calls them described above he advocates experience-based problem solving, which is learning by or while doing instead of instruction-led learning, which is learning before doing (which so reminds me of the conversation I had about ref desk observation vs. jumpping in while scaffolded).

What is the focus of learning? What should we be teaching people (so often the first question rather than the third)? Who decides? Tacit vs. explicit knowledge and how to leverage the former in development training.

And I’m loving that diagram. . .

Kretzman and McKnight oppose the needs-focused or “deficiency model” of most community programs and advocate for an asset or capacity-based focus that takes into account the skills, strengths and capacities of individuals, associations and institutions in a community. Wordy McWord! This is hitting so many recent buttons–the readings we’re doing in the #9 group about promoting innovation and best performance (esp. the article Lynn found that says that performance reviews should focus on the positive rather than the negative); the reseau d’echange de savoirs which says that everyone knows something that they can teach someone else and the stronger communities, self-respect and social benefits that are a *side effect* os this; the idea of needs analysis juxtaposed with the idea that to learn people need to build on what they already know, their existing mental models (their strengths). In the library, in Mann we’re focusing on what people know how to do, their skills and making up a way to share that (skills catalog, database). AGORA–the idea that the partnership of publishers, international organizations and local institutions is one of the long-term goals–as Olivia says building a network of institutions across Africa. The VIVO idea–if people can see what’s available and who else is doing things they can get info, join together.

I love the idea of having people inventory their skills, community service, business ideas and then giving their personal information so that they can be hooked up with appropriate info and help (but based out of their own agency). It also occurs to me that the survey that I did shouldn’t just go into a report but should be fed back to the participants so they can see what other places are doing and so we can keep up a dialogue–so I won’t be using them for data and nothing else.