Instructional design as a last resort

Rather than assume that people are "trainees in need of training", it's far better to assume that the people will figure out the needed skills soon enough by other means. Then training is kept to a minimum and used only when it's really needed.

To think this way, it's essential to consider the many other ways people could learn this without training. (socially, experientially, auto-didactically, etc). It helps to ponder how the exemplars discovered the best practices on the job without an instructional design.

Keeping instructional design to a minimum gets easier when the apparent ignorance is better understood. Some trainees already know what it being taught, but "play stupid" to get some time off from their daily grind. Others use ignorance to get even with a control freak or micro manager who fails to trust, listen or delegate responsibility to them. Some trainees have no incentives to act competent on the job, but experience lots of peer pressure to avoid initiative or cooperation with management.

In this context, it is very rare that people will really need well-designed instruction. It's very likely that their situation sponsors and rewards their chronic inability. Then, even the best training will have no beneficial effect.

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