As I continue in my Masters coursework at Capella University, each successive quarter project has increasingly driven home the sense that Instructional Design (ID) and Human Performance Improvement (HPI) are converging. Never has this been more apparent than my project this Q1. I am helping a friend and former manager at a company (who shall remain nameless...research ethics) who is seeing this very same convergence.
His training group has reached an impasse and has been unable to make significant improvements in the behavior of the workforce through training alone. To compound matters, the work environment is extremely dynamic and fast-paced, while having a very (to my eye) myopic focus on performing to benchmarks set by HQ. While benchmarks are not bad things, focusing on those alone will cause an organization to lose focus over the long term. My friend's training group has found itself in the classic struggle of nearly every training organization: How do we quantify and show our value-add to the business?
The problem goes beyond simple ROI measurements of training, and moves further into questions regarding the things that perhaps should be tried that are not. The culture in the environment tells them, in the traditional sense, that no problem can be solved without training. But HPI as a field of study shows that this is not the case. As such, due to the trend I am seeing with my friend's organization, I felt compelled to pose the question to my professor, and to myself, as I continue my studies. Are ID and HPI converging? The answer is certainly not known at this point in time, but there are signs out there, and as practitioners of ID (and later on HPI in my case) it's best I keep my eye out. My professor also sees some cause to think that the two fields are no longer parallel. Here's an abstract for a study I found on this phenomenon after a quick Google-timeout. Stolovitch and Keeps also help keep things in perspective.