At the recent Learning Solutions 2014 conference in Orlando, the Guild added another concurrent conference to the venue – Ecosystems 2014. Amazingly, at an additional cost there were over 200 participants attend the extra breakout sessions. While there were more questions surface than answers, it was clear that the concept of addressing the Learning & Performance environment as an ecosystem was a hit…and more questions than answers.
From my own breakout session on “Building a Dynamic Learning and Performance Ecosystem” to the others I attended, it was also clear that there were more people ready to adopt the concept of Embedded Performer Support [EPS] than there were actually at a state of readiness to do so. Personally, I think that is a good place to be if you know what readiness looks like. On the other hand, if you’re not sure, it can be intimidating enough to step back and wait for the next big thing to show up. Methinks waiting for the next bus is no longer an option; competitive advantage is a risk factor one cannot ignore.
I’ve written in the past about building a dynamic capability that integrates the EPS discipline to enable Six Right Things including:
- The right Learners & Performers has seamless, frictionless, and ubiquitous access to…
- The right learning and performer support assets and opportunities at…
- The right time…also known as the moment of need…and in
- The right amount;
- The right format; and to/from
- The right devices
This list of “right things” may look intimidating, but we have the capability to handle this easily today given the existing Web 2.0 technology most of us already have in place and the presence of a mobility-rich work environment. Where we are confronted with a challenge is plugging the square peg of an outdated Training paradigm into the round hole of a Performance paradigm. I’ve not found a single person in any single breakout session in the last 7 conferences I’ve spoken at in the last two years that has disagreed these right things are indeed right. The challenge is based upon readiness to do the right things, not willingness to consider them. A mature EPS discipline will enable all six right things if it is integrated properly.
EPS readiness has more moving parts than simply building a few job aids and calling it good. In fact, to accurately assess readiness, I believe there are six major buckets of attributes and/or capabilities that should be assessed. I’ve developed an EPS Readiness Assessment framework that holistically covers the ecosystem components in which the EPS discipline is attained and sustained. Consider these:
Performance Climate, Performance Engagement & Organizational Change Management
- Learning & Performance Culture – Assess the organization’s commitment to continuous Learning & Performance as a strategic initiative – the ability to staff critical roles and build competencies necessary to enable sustained workforce capability.
- Governance Structure – Assess L&P governance roles, leadership & business unit representation, decision-making, prioritization, escalation, and engagement across the organization.
- Leading Change – Assess repeatable, documented Organizational Change Management [OCM] capability to deliver sustained business outcomes from simple to transformational Change initiatives.
Holistic Learning & Performance Discovery & Work Context Integration
- L&P Discovery Analysis – Assess current scope of discovery methodologies and identify key competency gaps necessary to accurately identify, assess, isolate, and treat root causes versus symptoms of performance gaps.
- Discovery Process Evaluation – Assess essential discovery skills readiness to integrate work context attributes of space, systems & medium into design, development & delivery decisions.
- Performance Stakeholder Integration – Assess methods used to gain business alignment & relevant stakeholder engagement across the L&P environment.
PDR Learning & Performance Continuum Compatibility
- Design Methodology – Assess instructional design methodologies currently practiced & overlay compatibility with the PDR Learner-to-Performer Continuum.
- Development Process & Project Management Practices – Assess documented workflows and development management practices from client request to solution implementation.
- L&P Asset & Media Mix – Assess existing instructional design practices and mix of media, modes, and venues against an agile design methodology for development of both learning and performer support assets.
- Development Granularity & Objectization – Assess modularity specific to re-use and re-purposing requirements to support all five moments of need with inclusion of Performers @ the point of work without duplication of effort or redundant content development.
- L&P Asset Management – Assess content management practices to determine accessibility and scalability of content with respect to integrating downstream, post-training point(s) of access including the potential for supporting an untethered [mobile] workforce.
- L&P Delivery Methods – Assess Performer Support delivery practices across the PDR Learner-to-Performer Continuum, including formal training program delivery venues, informal Performer Support opportunities, and including integration with social resources and collaborative venues.
Effectiveness Evaluation, Impact Measurement & Reporting Capability
- Evaluation Discovery – Assess evaluation planning practices critical to identifying key performance indicators that illustrate relevant evidence of business impact; tactics for measuring & extracting tangible evidence of performance outcomes across the entire Continuum.
- Acquisition Methodology – Assess acquisition methodologies for capturing learning and performance analytics to ensure relevance and for purposes of optimal formatting and reporting of impact results.
- Analytics Application – Assess how planning identifies to what extent and duration captured data are used in support of ongoing reporting of performance analytics by aligning evidence of performance with key business decision points.
- Reporting – Assess scope of reporting capability, existing practices, and identification of actionable data capture and reporting gaps.
Scalable Collaboration and Social Learning & Performance Footprint
- Collaborative Culture – Assess cultural readiness to sponsor social venues, articulated policy, and integrated collaboration as viable support for both Learners and Performers.
- Collaboration Inventory – Assess presence and accessibility of collaborative platforms, social venues, and key human resources across the ecosystem.
- Social Learning & Performance 2.0 Integration – Assess sponsored versus covert utilization of 2.0 resources within the organization including formal use policy and degree of integration as applicable across relevant user populations.
Technology Transparency & Utilization
- Embedded Performance Support Systems – Assess existing EPSS deployment, degree of implementation, accessibility, and scalability to serve Learners and Performers at all five moments of need.
- Content Creation & Management – Assess existing authoring & content management practices, tools, and infrastructure that accommodate a “Create once – Use many times” methodology.
- Performance Management – Assess methods & systems used to support HRIS performance management practices as they pertain to Learning Management and EPSS system integration.
- Mobility & Connectivity – Assess learner mobility & network access/connectivity requirements to service the workforce from edge-to-edge across the entire ecosystem.
- Web 2.0 Integration Analysis – Assess the extent to which Web technology is accessible and the degree of relevance to business mission and performance results.
- Disparate System Integration – Assess systems containing relevant performance data that do not communicate cross-platform where the Experience API [xAPI] may support performance dashboard visibility.
Embedded Performer Support is a discipline; not a technology. Certainly, technology may be necessary at some point; however, the diversity of options is enormous and having solid business requirements in hand first are critical. It is important to note that the “shiny object attraction” can be a distraction that leads to disaster in the event cultural, strategic, and tactical readiness are not first identified, understood, and a comprehensive plan to close identified readiness gaps have been adopted.
The outcome of an assessment should provide a roadmap that embraces the “start-small-and-scale” mindset. Do not confuse “start small” with “half-cocked”. Step away from the EPSS technology and accurately identify the business requirements of your ecosystem “edge-to-edge”. Although there will be many similarities from one organization to the next, there will be unique challenges that drive radically different priorities. The objective is to drive time-to-impact to a smaller number.
Training has taken us about as far as it will go. I’m convinced integrating EPS into your learning and performance ecosystem will define future success, sustained capability of your workforce, and help maintain competitive advantage.
So…are you ready…or at readiness? Where are your gaps? How are you going to close them?
If this concept appears to be part of your future, give me a call. This is the focus of my consultancy and my role as a strategist. Most organizations have the core skills in-house; however what is often missing is a road map designed to close identified gaps in tactical capability. My capacity as an EPS coach may be all you need. Give me an hour or so, and I can walk you and/or your team through the concepts and scope options to assess your organizations state of readiness to begin the adoption journey of this important discipline.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Strategist