Friday, November 05, 2021

Wallace - Performance and performance analysis

Guy Wallace is a Performance Analyst and Instructional Architect who has spent over 40 years in Learning & Development. With a background as a Journalist in the Navy and then later video production for training, moving into self-paced instruction at Motorola, then as a consultant Curriculum Architecture Design projects for major clients, his focus has always been on ‘performance’, in both analysis or design. His focus could be seen as lying at both the top and tail of learning design – an emphasis on up-front analysis with its eyes on end-point performance. He has published 17 books and many articles on the methods and need for a performance approach to learning, rather than just training. 

Performers not learners 

For Wallace, the culture of L&D is very classroom based, so analysis of real-world performance, in context, seems alien. They are more comfortable with didactic training, leaving transfer and performance to the learner. Customers usually see training as the sole solution to their problem, yet that problem is almost always improving needs and performance beyond learning.   

It is a mistake to focus immediately on content and topic solutions. Wallace reverses this to put actual performance centre stage in the learning process. He is single-minded in his belief that a focus on performance, along with thorough analysis of performance context, unlocks the right solution, so much so that he likes to call his target audience performers, rather than learners. 

Performance Analysis 

As a method he believes that rather than push back at training requests, one should let the analysis data guide the client’s decision making on whether to continue or not. 

This is why Guy believes in thorough up-front analysis. His approach drew from Geary Rummler on guidance and performance analysis focused on tasks and outputs. Also Tom Gilbert with his focus on accomplishments, worthy outputs, not just behaviours. Bob Mager provided the tools on performance analysis, gap analysis and the writing of behavioural objectives. Another huge influence is Richard E. Clark on cognitive task analysis and gap analysis. 

First one must understand whether the actual performance requires memorisation or reference to resources. Rather than automatically produce training, he believes that one should default to job aids, then job aids embedded in training, only then training to improve critical knowledge and skills.  

So ‘performance’ needs to be unpacked through Performance Analysis, ideally starting with a facilitated group process involving 8-12 master performers, also subject matter experts, along with supervisors and management and sometimes novice performers. They must work together to produce a performance model of ideal performance and then review what the gaps are, along with their causes for non-master performers. Identifying non-Knowledge/Skill obstacles is also required. The more that is uncovered through this form of analysis, the greater the eventual impact on performance. 

His four instructional analysis areas are:  

  1. Target audience 

  2. Performance (ideal & gaps)  

  3. Enabling knowledge and skills  

  4. Existing content assessments for potential reuse 

This last approach is to increase the reuse of client content, either “as is” or “after modification” to reduce costs and speed up performance improvement. 

This is accompanied by four means of learning: 

  1. Leave it to informal learning 

  2. Standalone job aids 

  3. Job aids embedded in training 

  4. Training for memorisation and honing of critical skills 

From this, his Modular Curriculum Development method, ADDIE in structure,  has six phases; Project kick-off, Analysis, Design, Development, Pilot, Revision and Release – with four gate review meetings with the clients. 


Guy has been pushing the performance approach for decades and now that it has come back into the fold, through the informal learning movement, 70:20:10, learning in the workflow and technology such as Learning Experience Platforms, he is seen as one of the gurus in this field. He is part of a movement that seeks to avoid unnecessary instruction. Technology that delivers workflow learning has also given Wallace’s approach new impetus, as job and performance aids are now common in LXP delivery, with its focus on search and pull, rather than push. 


Wallace, G.W., 2021, Performance-based Lesson Mapping  

Wallace, G.W., 2011, The Curriculum Manager’s Handbook

Wallace, G.W., 2021, The 3 Ds of ThoughtFlow Analysis  

Wallace, G.W., 2020, Conducting Performance-Based Instructional Analysis  

Wallace, G.W., 2011, Analysis of Performance Competence Requirements

Wallace, G.W., 2011, Performance-based Curriculum Architecture Design

Wallace, G.W., 2011, Performance-based Modular Curriculum Development

Wallace, G.W., 2011, Developing Your Management Areas of Performance Competence

Wallace, G.W., 2011, From Training to Performance Improvement Consulting

Wallace, G.W., 2011, The Fifth Management Foci

Wallace, G.W., 2011, Lessons in Making Lemonade, Volume 1

Wallace, G.W., 2011, Lessons in Making Lemonade, Volume 2

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