Continuous learning for speed to proficiency












Proficiency isn’t attained in a class, it takes a systematic combination of training, reinforcement, and informal learning.

Being in the readiness business is really being in the business of building capability; of helping learners move from novice to expert in as short a time as possible – what we call speed to proficiency.

To do so, we need to use a full range of learning interventions. These include training, informal learning, performance support, coaching and mentoring.

As learning professionals, we need to have a thinking framework that helps us understand when and where to use each of these interventions, and how to best weave them together in a systematic way to produce speed to proficiency.

In this regard, I’d like to share the continuous learning model that we at Q2 Learning have used for over 10 years with Fortune 500 customers.

We see three phases of learning on the X axis, in the order that we may most often use them.

Training includes event-based formal instruction, such as face-to-face and online classes, self-paced eLearning, MOOCs, and other event-based instruction. Training is great for building awareness and a certain level of skillfulness – the ability to apply defined processes and procedures in standard situations.

Reinforcement includes planned post-training activities such as graduated assignments, coaching, mentoring, and other forms of on-the-job training. Reinforcement builds on the gains made from training. In our work with customers, we find that the key to achieving proficiency in critical job skills is a reinforcement cycle. That’s something that happens on the job, not in the classroom.

Informal learning includes learner-initiated “over the cubicle” knowledge sharing, communities of practice, experiential learning, and gaining skills and knowledge from performance support systems and other reference materials. Our customers have leveraged informal learning to maintain and enhance skills over time.

Build skillfulness with training, build proficiency through reinforcement, and maintain and improve skills through informal learning – and notice it’s the reinforcement and informal learning that drive to proficiency.

Excerpted from Speed to Proficiency: Creating a Sustainable Competitive Advantage. (c) Bill Bruck, Ph.D., 2015 (paperback and Kindle)

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