There's been lot of talk in Twitterland lately about the usefulness of the ADDIE process model often used in instructional design (much on the theme of whether ADDIE is dead), and the validity/existence of "informal" learning. I saw it all hit overlap this week in 2 separate encounters with service employees.
In the first, I was purchasing a prepaid gift card at a drug store. The transaction brought the place to a halt, with the register giving off that dull 'thunk' sound as unhappy computers will. The cashier fumbled with the register, pressed a number of keys to no avail, said she "wasn't sure" if the card was activated, and finally called for a manager, who quickly took care the problem. As I left -- after a one-item cash transaction that took maybe 5 minutes -- the cashier said, "They told me that in training but I hadn't done it before. Sorry, but I forgot."
In this first instance, performance support could have supplemented, or likely replaced, training simply by programming help screens and prompts. Training for future use of a skill is pretty much pointless. It would be like not training at all, but for adding the maddening "I think I heard something about this" factor to an already frustrating situation. The solution here is not based in designing-implementing-evaluating instruction, but in identifying places for, and deploying resources toward, good performance support.
In the second instance, last night, my husband and I were at a restaurant. A new server appeared in the company of the more experienced server charged with training him. The training pretty much took the form of job shadowing, with the experienced guy modeling good (in fact, breathtaking, exemplary) performance. Occasionally he would ask the new guy something like, "What do we always ask when someone orders coffee?" (Answer: "Would you like cream?"). They stayed together most of the time we were there, merging into what my husband called The Waiter with Four Arms, and appeared to be having both a good and successful time. We enjoyed them, and had no complaints with the service. By the time we left the new server was taking his first steps at working on his own, and as far as we could tell he was doing just fine.
In this second scenario, we see something on the learning continuum between formal (in the sense of an intentional,planned event, either live or online) and informal (in the sense of an employee at the point of need accessing help)learning. Basically:
--the 'trainer' (more experienced server) was the performance support
--as a peer,actually doing the same job, the trainer was able to provide real-world suggestions
--the learning experience appeared to be a successful one
--as a side effect, the experience appeared to be forcing better performance from the trainer
--and I'm afraid ADDIE wasn't anywhere to be found. There was no deliberate process, no 'steps'. The new guy followed the more experienced guy around, and the more experienced guy demonstrated and explained. And it worked.
I'm not interested in the dead/undead discussion of ADDIE so much as concerned about the desire on the part of many to apply it to every situation. As L & D professionals we need to have many items in our toolkits. ADDIE is one. What others do you use?