Why Consider an EPS Readiness Assessment?

As Embedded Performance Support [EPS] continues to gain traction among Training organizations, I’m seeing a common reaction surface, “This really makes sense conceptually, but how do we implement?” That question, unfortunately does not have a single, simple answer because each organization represents a unique performance & learning ecosystem. While there will be similarity across all ecosystems, there will be as many if not more unique differences with which to contend. One-size definitely does not fit all.

Adopting EPS is not a sprint; rather, it is a more like a triathlon engaging multiple modes of transiting toward the finish line of full adoption. As a discipline, EPS matures as the adoption progresses, and this is involves a process of deliberate integration of a range of organizational change and components from cultural acceptance, to methodologies, to the eventual application of technology. [See Figure #1] I’ve said this before in other posts…start small and scale! There’s no shame in being at Stage 0, in fact, you are better off starting there than having parts of the organization running off and doing their own thing…only to have to regroup and abandon their progress to prevent redundancy and inconsistent application. Seriously, do not take the path to maturity lightly.

Figure #1

As a member of the Performance Support Community’s Leadership Council, and from conferences where I speak and attend related EPS breakout sessions, I’m witnessing a growing excitement to embark on the EPS journey. I also see evidence that there are more people ready to adopt the concept of EPS than there are actually at a state of readiness to do so effectively. Personally, I think the excitement is a good thing…but only if you know what readiness looks like within the uniqueness of your organization.

Conversely, if you’re not sure, you could be sprinting into a mine field and stand to experience roadblocks that could have been avoided had you been better equipped in the beginning with a road map and the right capabilities in place. Adopting EPS should be seen as adopting a discipline as opposed to buying new technology and/or new software. Adoption is not a transaction; it is a journey.

I’ve written in the past about building a dynamic capability that integrates the EPS discipline to enable Six Right Things including:

  1. The right Learners & Performers have seamless, frictionless, and ubiquitous access to…
  2. The right learning and performance support assets and opportunities at…
  3. The right time…also known as the moment of need; and in…
  4. The right amount;
  5. The right format; and to/from
  6. The right devices

This list of “right things” may look intimidating, but many of us have the capability to handle this easily today given existing Web 2.0 technology already in hand. A major driver to accommodate these right things stems from the presence of a mobility-rich work environment. Convergence of learning with work confronts us with a challenge of plugging the square peg of an outdated Training paradigm into the round hole of a Performance paradigm. These right things take us beyond training and closer to the point of work – ground zero for the EPS discipline. I’ve not found a single person in any breakout session from any conferences in the last two years that has not experienced the need address all of these right things in one form or another when they are serious about driving performance at the point of work. Too often, the right things are applied…or not…as disjointed pieces and parts of an incomplete strategy. At the core to being at readiness is the ability to effectively address Gottfredson’s five moments of need.

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 capabilities that should be considered. The EPS Readiness Assessment framework I developed a couple years ago holistically covers the edge-to-edge ecosystem where we need to have a sustainable EPS discipline. Consider these:

Performance Climate, Performance Engagement & Organizational Change Management

  • Performance & Learning Culture – Assess the organization’s commitment to continuous Performance & Learning [P&L] as a strategic initiative – the ability to staff critical roles and build competencies necessary to enable sustained workforce capability, not relying upon Training competencies as primary drivers of performance.
  • Governance Structure – Assess P&L 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 over the spectrum of simple Change as you begin to scale to larger transformational Change initiatives as enterprise-wide adoption spreads.
  • Performance Stakeholder Integration – Assess methods used to gain business alignment & relevant stakeholder sponsorship/engagement.
  • Maturity Model Mapping – Assess where your organization falls on the five stages of maturity [See Figure #1] and map a deliberate plan of attack to transition incrementally toward adoption.

Holistic Performance & Learning Discovery & Work Context Integration

  • P&L Discovery – Assess current scope of discovery and identify key competency gaps necessary to accurately identify, assess, isolate, and treat root causes versus reacting to symptoms of performance gaps.
  • Discovery Process Evaluation – Assess essential discovery skills and methods necessary to integrate work context attributes of space, systems & medium into design, development & delivery of integrated EPS solution.

Intentional Design, Development & Delivery Integration

  • Design Methodology – Assess instructional design methodologies currently practiced & overlay agile methods that integrate EPS concepts using the Jennings 70:20:10 Model.
  • Development Process & Project Management Practices – Assess documented workflows and development practices to accommodate incremental implementation of performance support assets, end-user feedback, and iterative refinement processes leading to embedding and replicating into both social and formal learning venues.
  • P&L Asset & Media Mix – Assess existing instructional design tools and practices specific to mix of media, modes, and venues against an agile design methodology for development of both performance support and learning assets.
  • Development Granularity & Objectization – Assess design decisions specific to re-use and re-purposing requirements to support all five moments of need prioritizing performers @ the point of work with single-source documentation eliminating duplication of effort and redundant content development and maintenance.
  • P&L 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.
  • P&L Delivery Methods – Assess Performance Support delivery practices across the Jennings 70:20:10 Model, including formal training program delivery venues, informal Performance 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. Assess tactics for measuring & extracting tangible evidence of performance outcomes across the entire P&L ecosystem at levels 3 & 4.
  • KPI Acquisition Methodology – Assess acquisition methods for capturing performance and learning analytics to ensure relevance and for additional purposes of optimal formatting and reporting of impact results.
  • Analytics Application – Assess scope and duration of captured data are used in support of ongoing reporting of performance analytics specific to alignment of evidence of performance outcome data affecting key business decision points.
  • Reporting – Assess scope of reporting infrastructure, existing practices, and identification of actionable data capture and reporting gaps.

Scalable Collaboration and Social Performance & Learning Footprint

  • Collaborative Culture – Assess cultural readiness to sponsor social venues, articulated social policy, and integrated collaboration as viable support for both Learners and Performers.
  • Collaboration Inventory – Assess presence and accessibility of collaboration platforms, social venues, and key human resources across the ecosystem user population.
  • Social Performance & Learning 2.0 Integration – Assess sponsored versus covert utilization of 2.0 resources within the user population as compliant with formal use policy and degree of integration as applicable across the ecosystem.

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 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.

Summary Thoughts

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 in the beginning are critical success factors. 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 lure of EPSS technology until you have accurately identified the “edge-to-edge” performance and learning business requirements of your ecosystem. Although there will be many similarities from one organization to the next, there will be unique challenges that drive radically different priorities. Too often we are stuck in a Training paradigm, and this can easily prioritize the adoption of methods [like agile] for the key benefit of rapid development when we should be seeking measurable reduction of time-to-business-impact versus faster time-to-training.

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. The question remains, “Are you ready, or are you at a state of readiness?”

Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning