It's an old story that the top row of The Six Boxes Model generally provides more leverage than the bottom row. That's because the things we can do to change the environment (top row) are usually more powerful and broad-reaching than what we can do when we focus on the individual (bottom row).
It's also true that Box 2 is one of the greatest opportunities for producing big returns on investment in performance. Not only do process and job design fit into Box 2, but also documentation, performance support systems, and JOB AIDS.
As our colleague Dr. Joe Harless has emphasized for decades, a good job aid (checklist, recipe, procedure guide, etc.) can often virtually eliminate the need for training while immediately improving performance quality and productivity. Sometimes a bit of training is needed to introduce job aids, but beyond that job aids are one of the very best ways to reduce time for training and improve performance, increasing overall performance ROI.
A recent article made this painfully clear. As the best selling book, The Checklist Manifesto , documented some years ago, a simple checklist used by surgical teams reduced both accidental death rates and complications by nearly half! It saved lives.
This is one of the reasons that checklists are required for use by airline pilots before they take off – the potential impact is just too important to leave to chance or human memory. It's also one of the reasons that we have always recommended the Information Mapping® Method, a research-based way of producing performance-focused documentation and job aids. We've used the method for decades, and it virtually always improves performance as a Box 2 intervention, while laying a foundation for training – a Box 4 behavior influence.
While most of our clients are not dealing with these types of life-threatening situations, we have found over and over again that Box 2 interventions can dramatically reduce problems, improve performance, and allow organizations to achieve goals more rapidly at lower cost.
Do you have any dramatic examples where job aids measurably improved outcomes? We'd like to know.