After watching the Winter Olympics, I am once again ready to plop my fanny in a bobsled and plunge down an icy gutter at ninety miles per hour. What a rush that must be! Besides living in southern Indiana and the only icy gutters hang on my house, I am so far from a state of readiness that the only outcome from the bobsled plunge would be certain injury or possibly death by impact. How many times do we put our workforce through hours of training and consider them to be at a state of readiness to take a “business plunge” that, while not death-defying, is placing real tangible business value at risk?
I will stipulate that every time we Train a member of the workforce we are contributing to a state of readiness in someone who is ready [and, in some cases, willing] to learn. In other words, contributing to a state of readiness is synonymous with building competency. Building competency is a journey. It is a journey that extends well beyond the formal learning event [Training] and into the post-training work context where there is no longer any safety net. Mistakes at this level cost money. Mistakes are part of learning. How much learning can one afford at the hands of mistakes?
I learned to ride a bicycle by crashing a few times. A company, on the other hand, cannot allow a technician to make a mistake that translates into business liability, creation of material waste, redundant rework, or [insert wasteful activity or delay or destruction of your choice here]. Readiness is reached when a Performer can consistently execute at the task-level flawlessly.
Time-to-competency represents a period of time we should be busting our hump to reduce, if not eliminate. I put competent to perform in the same bucket as being in a state of readiness to perform. That said, I suggest that we can accelerate a state of readiness in advance of a Performer actually earning their stripes as a competent performer. How? By adopting a discipline called Embedded Performer Support [EPS] where we intentionally design Performer Support [PS] tools and embed them – at the moment of need – into the workflow where we require flawless performance.
By integrating EPS into our design methodology, we can accelerate readiness to perform even before we can look at a Performer and deem them competent. For example, I may have avoided a bicycle crash with PS tools known as training wheels. As a result, I would be at a state of readiness to ride the bike successfully while depending on the assist from training wheels, and not yet at a level of competency. When my performance became flawless and no longer needed the PS “wheels”, I would no longer crash and would have reached competent performance. Going back to reducing time-to-competency, this is what we seek – accelerated readiness – through the integration of EPS.
As I see it, we really only have two choices to arrive at flawless execution:
- Wait for enough mistakes to happen in order for the Performer to “learn” from them as they approach flawless execution…if you can afford the cost of mistakes and the time to learn the hard way.
- Accelerate readiness with PS that was intentionally designed for role-specific, task-centric application at the moment of need…often at the point of work.
But wait; what about training?
Why ask “What about training?” Do we ask that question because that’s how we’ve always done things? Often times the stock answer to that question is “Absolutely!” We are the Training Department. We train people.
Unless the EPS discipline is finding its way into your design and development methodology, you’d better buff up the resume because the velocity of business is demanding accelerated business results; and results happen at the point of work; and that’s where flawless performance is required…often before competency is reached. That is also the fertile domain of EPS.
Time-to-competency is important, but smacks of jargon to a business stakeholder. Try time-to-business-impact on for size and you just might grab some attention. Adopt EPS and accelerate time-to-business-impact without leading with a training solution and you may find stakeholders beating a path to your door.
Are you ready for that?
Better yet, is your training design and development team at a state of readiness to embrace EPS?
Accelerate your path to readiness by assessing what you need to do to successfully integrate an EPS discipline into your design and development methodology and learn how to accelerate time-to-business impact.
Learning & Performance Solutions Strategist