Performance Analysis & Action Learning
Performance Analysis & Action Learning (PAAL) is a hybrid process of: (1) prioritizing gaps in alignment with business results (and organizational strategy); (2) evaluating and recommending performance processes, products, and performance support (i.e., interventions); and (3) reviewing and refining processes based on reflective questioning, group feedback (and learning). (Langdon, p 52., p. 280).
PAAL is an important asset in a Manager’s Toolkit to rapidly assess needs, recommend performance improvements, and facilitate group ownership for desired results. It is strategically aligned to the Client’s Main Thing (Davis, 2000): business, financial and operational objectives. It is initially facilitated by a Manager or Consultant, and then implemented directly and continuously by group members.
PAAL is a hybrid approach to achieve ends and (business) objectives (Langdon, p. 240); consider work and feedback processes that impact performance in line with those business objectives; and include critical individual / group questioning, reflecting and learning approach for transitioning from a Manager/Consultant-led intervention to a Client-owned process.
Performance Analysis is a systematic process of analyzing underlying causes (including stakeholder resistance, language and culture); aligning business results, performance processes and products, and performance support variables. (Langdon, p. 280)
Sometimes called front-end analysis or needs assessment, PA is focused on researching root causes of past, current and possible performance gaps with the goal of closing those gaps aligned to the business outcomes desired by organizational leaders.
It consists of examining interventions to close those gaps; selecting the best interventions for the job taking into account performance support variables (performance standards, feedback, incentives, goals, guidance, instructions, tools, materials and worker knowledge and skills); developing accountabilities and performance agreements; and monitoring and evaluating the intervention(s)’ effectiveness in closing performance gaps. (Langdon, p. 282)
PA can also be integrated into performance improvement projects, and help accelerate the return on human and business performance; and forming the basis for cascading goals and expectations throughout the organization. (ASTD Infoline, p. 1). In today’s complex and rapidly-changing business environment, there is considerable blurring and overlap between phases (i.e., over the business lifecycle), and the PA specialist will likely be more successful in exercising his / her role with sensitivity, tact and diplomacy.
Action Learning is a group problem-solving process built on diversity; reflective questioning; and commitment to individual, group and organization-wide learning. (Langdon, p. 52)
Action Learning (i.e., learning by doing) is considered one of the most powerful one of the most powerful problem-solving tools available to groups, and also serves as individual, team and organizational development intervention. (Langdon, p. 52).
Developed by Reg Revans in the 1940s, action learning is an experience-based learning process that brings together a group of people with varying skills and experience, to analyze a complex work problem and co-create an action plan. Participants continuously learn from their experience through double loop learning (i.e., receiving feedback on their actions, and challenging their underlying assumptions and (cultural) frame of reference), as performance interventions are implemented, reviewed and evaluated.
Action Learning is most appropriate for dealing with complex work challenges that are not easily resolved and require solutions address the root causes ~ not simple fixes. It is also useful for engaging the people directly responsible for improving individual, team and organizational performance, participation, inclusion and accountability towards implementing strategic directives.
PAAL can also assist with post-intervention follow-though (leading to greater sustainability), dissemination, advocacy, knowledge exchange and communications about achievements, outputs and outcomes.
- This activity is available on a fee-for-service basis. Please contact Randy Fisher.
Callahan, Madelyn R. The Role of the Performance Intervention Specialist, American Society for Training and Development (InfoLine Issue #9714), 1987.
Davis, Larry. Pioneering Organizations: The Convergence of Individualism, Teamwork and Leadership, Executive Excellence Publishing, 2000.
Labovitz, George and Rosansky, Victor. The Power of Alignment. New York: John Wiley and Sons,1997.
Langdon, Danny G., Whiteside, Kathleen S. And McKenna, Monica M., (2000). Intervention Resource Guide: 50 Performance Improvement Tools. NY: Jossey-Bass.
Orr, Debra and Hona Matthews. Employee Engagemenet and OD Strategies, in OD Practiontioner Vol. 40 No. 2, 2008 (pp. 18-23)
Revans, Reg. ABC of Action Learning, 1983
Revans, Reg. The Origins and Growth of Action Learning, 1982.
Revans, Reg. Wikipedia entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reg_Revans
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