Help is on the Way: Performance Assurance, Personally and Professionally

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Performance AssuranceSometimes asking for help is the hardest part, because calling in the experts means you have to accept that, to some degree, things are outside of your control. And that can be a scary proposition. For me personally, I faced this issue very directly during my first year of marriage. I didn’t have particularly severe symptoms (enlarged lymph nodes, some itching, etc.) but I had a sense something was wrong. Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the news: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system.

Over the following months, I went through rigorous staging and treatments. My team of medical experts acted quickly and decisively, with a clear plan of action and end goal. While my cancer treatments obviously represent an extreme case, that situation helped me understand early and profoundly the value of the expert’s rigor and insight. And while it may seem a little strange at first to make this comparison, as I engage with different clients across different industries, I’m often reminded of the way my team of experts helped me beat my cancer, and the tremendous value of admitting what you don’t know, conducting appropriate front-end analysis, planning and aligning systematically, and acting on a solution and evaluating results.


I knew it was serious when the x-ray technician took the first x-ray, looked at the results, and then proceeded to take additional x-rays at different angles to gather more information.

A preliminary diagnosis was formulated and I went through an elaborate staging process to discover as much as possible about my current condition before formulating an appropriate strategy for beginning treatment. No short cuts were taken as I submitted to a barrage of tests, each conducted by an expert with knowledge of the best and most effective treatments.

Similarly, when Allen’s team partner with a client to assess a new project, I admire the courage this move can often take on the part of the stakeholders. They first have to admit there may be a problem they can’t solve. Once we both understand the current situation, we use different, proven “tests” to understand the current state. This extensive performance assurance front-end analysis might involve interviews with key stakeholders, new and experienced employees; along with learner observations and online surveys. The analysis influences the “treatment” because it helps to identify key aspects about the learner’s needs, best practices, and difficulties caused by the structure of the existing training. All of this information is then used to develop a plan aimed at fostering change to the current state.


After all the tests were complete for my personal evaluation, the results were then presented to a board of specialists who each weighed in on and confirmed an appropriate treatment based on the extent and nature of the disease and the forms of treatment that historically had been successful in eradicating the disease. Alternate forms of or experimental emerging treatments were also presented as options, with corresponding potential side effects.

Likewise, after a thorough evaluation, Allen identifies specific approaches to a solution based in training theory, application approaches, and a review of resources available. The information is then given to stakeholders who may use the information to assess the method and decide upon a course of action.


Once the front-end analysis and planning was complete, I engaged in a therapy regimen that ultimately eradicated the disease. I took comfort and confidence in the rigor and systematic approach that the doctors took to properly diagnose the disease and prescribe proven treatments for a potentially fatal illness.

Now, cancer is obviously an extreme case, and I don’t mean ultimately to suggest that the problems learning groups face should be compared to diseases. Instead, the insight for me centers on the value of having the courage to open yourself to expertise—to admit you may have a problem—and the corresponding value of expertise, rigor, experience, and analysis in moving toward your goals. In my experience, when implementing a solution based on a comprehensive assessment, developed on sound methodology, and executed with precision you can trust that the approach will deliver results.

As a result of my personal and professional experiences, I have tremendous respect for the discipline that takes the time, budget and resources needed to properly align solutions with strategic outcomes, and I take great personal satisfaction in working with my client partners and Allen’s proven analysis model and teams of experts to identify potential business/behavior impact, define success factors, align strategies and formulate a sustainable solution.

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