May 2014 v9no2
Building Capability
Finding the Root Cause
In This Issue
There is No One Root Cause
Tools for Tasking

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Check out some past posts! We share two methods for understanding, documenting, and communicating capability in Capability Model vs Capability Development Path.
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PRH_4  It is great to finally get some nice weather (at least in the Chicago area). It should be safe to say no more snow for awhile but it is a bad idea to make firm predictions.
  We have been busy working on projects and some internal things as well. I'm hoping by the next issue we will be promoting our new website. We just finished a project in which we recorded and edited an "over-the-shoulder" video for the first time. Technology is a great enabler but, basically, all the same principles about communication, training, and performance are at the core of an effective solution.
  In this issue, we share a quick method for working with a team to make decisions and move forward after performance analysis. One reason there is the expression "analysis paralysis" is that it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that could be addressed that will emerge from a detailed analysis of a process or task set. One person could easily just decide what to do but, with a group or team (and a boss), you need a process for making those decisions and reasons to back them up. This method is simple and will get you there quickly.
  We also discuss one of our favorite productivity tools (Evernote) and the problem of minimizing luggables of all kinds. 
  I hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter. Please feel free to forward this to a friend or colleague. Any comments or suggestions about content are welcome. We are very interested in hearing what you think. 


Peter R. Hybert, CPT  

Principal Consultant

There is No One Root Cause
Multiple Causes and Solutions to Get Results


Everybody Loves Analysis


When I first got involved with performance technology, I couldn't help but notice the amount of emphasis placed on "Analysis." The implication was that most consultants didn't do enough (or any, or not the right kind) and that, as a result, often conducted training that was off-target or even unnecessary and, ultimately, an ineffective waste of time and money for all concerned. It might make someone feel like they did something but it wasn't anything that should have been done.


As I looked at the various writings about this issue, it seems that there was almost an implied ideal model of the eccentric genius who wandered around the workplace poking at things, asking bemused questions, and then coming out with a brilliant but simple solution that everyone had overlooked but, once implemented, resulted in vastly improved performance. (If you are old enough, think "Columbo." If not, maybe think "House.")


The problem with this model is that it  doesn't really hold up in practice. If you analyze a work process or task set, you will often find multiple problems with multiple causes. Human performance can vary greatly and situations in which performance happens vary greatly as well. To address this type of complex environment, you need solutions that address multiple problems. 


For more, check out the rest of the article on the blog: There is No One Root Cause.


For an approach on how to facilitate a working group meeting to move from  a disparate set of specific performance problems to specific plans of action you can get your arms around, check out the article: Getting from Multiple Causes to Focused Action.

Tools for Tasking

   After PowerPoint, Evernote is probably our company's most-used software. What do we use it for?

  • Meeting notes
  • Information collection
  • "Punch Lists"
  • General filing cabinet stuff
   Meeting Notes: Simple. You can capture participant names, time, date, subject, etc. You can add your agenda, key issues to address, and attach supporting documents as needed. After the meeting, we tag it with "To Do's" if there is follow-up to be done. If you send out notes afterwards, you can send directly from Evernote or copy/paste them into an email. For on-line meetings, we often share the Evernote screen so participants can follow the agenda, discussion, and actions. (Evernote has a "Presentation" mode for sharing your notes but we haven't tried that yet.)
   Information Collection: During our projects, we often perform research, interviews with business leaders and subject matter experts, observe work processes or product usage, review documents, and facilitate meetings. If we are working on designing or developing a training program, we can accumulate quite a bit of information and, if the team is not co-located, it really helps to have that information condensed to a digital format and also available to the entire team.
   "Punch Lists": A punch list is just another name for a list of tasks, IOUs, follow-up items, open issues, etc. We often create a single note for each project deliverable and then list the open items still to be obtained or created. You can use tags to find things, such as IOUs or all questions needed to be asked of a given individual, quickly when needed, for example, when you happen to be on the phone with them. Another tip -- after something is complete, use "strikethrough" to mark it as done and move it to a completed list but don't delete it...later, when you can't remember if you did X or Y, you will be able to tell more easily.
   General Filing Cabinet Stuff: Pretty much anything else you might normally save in a filing cabinet can be saved in Evernote instead and spare your physical space. Those business trip receipts, photo of the label of that wine you liked, handwritten notes on a napkin summarizing a brilliant idea you don't want to forget, scanned documents, and so on. If it can be digitized, it can be dumped into Evernote, tagged, and organized into a folder. 
   Evernote also has the capability to set alarms so a committed user could really use it as a complete workflow management tool as well. You can email notes or share entire notebooks with others so the entire team has access to all the information on the project. And, you can create as many notebooks as you want (basically, they are like file folders) so you can segregate content if needed or just pile everything into larger notebooks and rely on tags and searches. Supposedly, it will do handwriting recognition so, if you save a photo or handwritten note, you can search for it later. We haven't been able to make this work...but maybe our handwriting is not clear enough...or we haven't really tried that hard either. 
Evernote is a fairly open-ended, multi-purpose tool and that is one of its primary strengths. Too many apps that only do one thing means a disintegrated workflow. Evernote gives you a way to develop the habit of just saving the information, instead of requiring you to first figure out which app to use and then how to do it. When it becomes second nature, you can spend your efforts thinking about more important things. 

There is No Such Thing as Being Too Rich or Too Thin 

   Years ago (more than five) I remember going into a meeting carrying a large easel, a large roll of paper, a box or two of handouts, and two briefcases loaded with a laptop, misc folders, paper tablets, and other stuff. My client started laughing as I struggled to drag everything to the front of the  room in one trip. Then he said "You know, the more important you are, the less you have to carry. I'm flying to Europe later this week and all I'm carrying is a thumb drive with my presentation...I'm not even bringing a laptop!" (All I could say was "I never said I was important." More sad than funny.) 
   Remember when everyone wanted a smaller computer or a smaller phone? Well, I guess having a thin wallet is now becoming a more on the blog  Thin Wallets.   
Thank you for your interest in PRH Consulting! For more about our company, approach, and experience, please visit our website at  
We hope you think of us the next time you need help improving or supporting performance.


Pete Hybert, CPT


PRH Consulting Inc.
Wheaton, IL

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