Friday, 23 January 2015

Performance Support: Don't Memorize What You Don't Have To



Story Time
I’m going to tell you a story – twice. More specifically, I’m going to tell you two different versions of the same story. Afterwards I’ll ask you a few questions. Don’t worry! You won’t be graded on them.





The Setting
My son contracted Blastomycosis this past summer. He’s on medication for it, and probably will be for another 9 months. I won’t bother you with the details. If you want to know more about Blastomycosis (aka: “Blasto”), you can check out Wikipedia, if you want to know more about our experience with it, head over to my wife’s blog.

A few months after coming home, my son spiked a fever and started complaining of headaches. The fever went away, but the headaches persisted for a few days, so we went back to the hospital to get him checked out. If I’ve learned anything about Blasto, it’s that anything can be a symptom and that you don’t take chances.

Ending 1
After listening to our descriptions and checking my son’s symptoms, the doctor thought for a moment. After the briefest of pauses, he said to us “This isn’t likely to be related to his current medication. Only 2% of people on those meds develop these symptoms.”
 Ending 2
After listening to our descriptions and checking my son’s symptoms, the doctor whipped out his iPhone and tapped the screen a few times. After a moment, he said to us “This isn’t likely to be related to his current medication. Only 2% of people on those meds develop these symptoms.”

Points to Ponder
Which doctor (not witch doctor) is more impressive?
Which doctor is more effective?
Which doctor is more likely to make a mistake?
If you were responsible for their training, which standard would you rather be judged against?

Conclusion
Why did I tell you that story? I told you that story because at some point you’ll have a client (or SME or stakeholder) who feels that learners needed to memorize every piece of content. I also told you that story because I like to tell stories – but mostly the first thing.

So, the next time a client insists that your course needs to include everything I want you to remember the story of the doctor and his iPhone app. Better yet, tell them the story and help them to understand that often it’s better to have the information at your fingertips than to memorize it.