What Does Lady Gaga Have in Common With Today’s Learning Design?…Performance!

I was thinking about how much the industry has changed for those of us in the learning and performance (L&P) arena. Now I will tell you that I was able to get on the ground early and skip a lot of what this article is mostly about, but I feel that I should address it anyhow. So what do I mean by the title of this blog post? Well a few things…

One is that I see a parallel between the music industry and the L&P industry in that they both have had to grow up a little bit in terms of what they stand for. If we go back to 1999 when Britney Spears and N’Sync were all the rage we were so dazzled (some of us anyway) by how they were “performing” with all the lights and back up dancers we didn’t miss the most crucial piece: they weren’t actually singing.

During that time “trainers” were delivering mostly classroom instruction and printing lots of workbooks for our “trainees”. Most of them had a corporate account with Trainer’s Warehouse. They handed out the smile sheets at the end of the class. The best part? Just like when Britney hit us one more time, the training department was in awe and excitement when their attendance rate was greater than 50%.

While both of our industries were excelling at the time, I feel that now both of our industries have changed. As learning professionals we are moving in the direction of what real performance looks like and how we get our organizations there. We are designing for performance while keeping learning in mind. We are all becoming increasingly innovative in the discoveries and strides we are making to progress forward. We are rejecting the fakers like the smile sheet for a better outcome, better performance.

In the music industry the same thing is happening. Singers are being criticized for their use of autotune on their records and the fact that 80% of their live shows are lip synced. Now singers like Lady Gaga (personal bias) have arrived pushing what it means to be a performer. Singing live, carrying a message, and keeping fans engaged. Our equivalent of that is making the learning experience real and measuring performance all while providing them with the tools and information they need for success.

So the need for real performance in both industries is very much alive and is the new norm that is expected among “supporters”. What it ends up being is the proof that we are all the real deal in our respective professions.

I was always taught to know better regarding performance because I stayed current in the industry and applied it to everyday life. It’s interesting when you start working with people who are not there yet. I sometimes ask myself “Why are they doing it that way, don’t they know it’s outdated?” Then you have the people that know what they need to do but for some reason they don’t change their behavior…

I hope that this helps to elaborate on how far we have come in the L&P industry and shed some light on what we are now expected to be working towards for now and especially the future in our profession.


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