What can we learn from the internet product-customization business?

First, read this article on the booming growth in the product-customization business.

Now consider how we in the learning-and-performance field might use the essential ideas of the product-customization business in our work.

The Tutoring Model

As learning professionals we know that one-on-one tutoring/coaching can provide superior benefits. Can we provide customized coaching?

Maybe social-media covers this a bit, but having a one-to-many relationship is NOT the same.

The Pretest Model

Pretesting and diagnostics that suggest learning content  might create benefits. Instead of offering training courses in a big LM-meSsy list, why not try to offer training diagnostics in a big list, and let our employees select their own training.

The Prequestion Model

Utilizing prequestions within learning content is a way to do mini-customizations within our current e-learning delivery paradigms. Prequestions tell learners whether to pay attention, and tell them which info to pay attention (and which to skim).

The Customized Job Aid Model

Job aids can work brilliantly to prompt learner/employee behavior, but they typically suffer from three problems. First, they have a maturation problem. As people do a task over time, they need less and less prompting. So, we might offer people a maturing job-aid that changes as their prompting needs change. Second, generic job aids don't energize like customized or grass-roots job aids do. Customized job aids might provide more engagement and they might also help with the first issue too–they might people create the job aid they need. Third, job aids tend to be developed by high-level experts without a full understanding of the on-the-ground realities that real employees/people face. For this reason, a job aid's "final version" may not actually be optimally effective. Enabling customized job aids might be just the thing to allow people to fine-tune job aids to make them more effective.

Job aids actually suffer from a fourth problem as well. They can be ignored and they can be habituated so that they no longer are processed deeply when people encounter them. Why not use the product-customization meme more literally by creating job aids embedded on the side of coffee mugs, on knick-knacks, on pens, etc.


Now that I've given you training entrepreneurs millions of dollars worth of ideas above, why not engage me to consult, to brainstorm more ideas, to ensure that your innovations are really learning-worthy, or just to meet the kind of guy who wouldn't blanch to make a direct appeal. SMILE.

Authenticity is not customizable…