We see many articles these days lamenting the shortfall of employee engagement in the best efforts to develop and deliver compelling options to learn. L&D responds with shorter learning events. We gamify, and we “MOOC-ify”, and we mobilize, and there’s nothing wrong with any of these attempts to engage our learners in learning. Could it be we’re chasing the wrong rabbit? Or maybe we’re chasing the right rabbit but there is a more effective way?
Here are a couple of thoughts to chew on –
• Instead of building learning programs to engage learners why don’t we try a different tact and engage them with something relevant – their actual point-of-work? Let’s bring actual work into learning moments.
• Learner engagement comes from consuming something that will benefit their work effort, so why not focus on the tools and resources to enable the actual work to be done?
Look at all the noise around learning styles and preferences. The younger workforce is largely incompatible with traditional training venues. I just read that the attention span of a Millennial is +/- 90 seconds. How can learning engage an audience that needs and wants something different…something that “fits their moment of need?
I know that my first tactic when forced to take a thirty minute e-learning course is to see if I can hack through it in five minutes. I’m certainly outside the age range of X, Y, M, & Z, but if I had the choice of taking a “course” or using a technology that enables me to find what I need when I need it, enduring training in any format is well down the list of the help I desire. Just give me access to a technology that addresses my request of “Just Gimme Three Clicks!”
If I do have to endure training, let it be skewed, at a minimum, toward the “70” in the 70:20:10 framework. And it wouldn’t break my heart if it were 85:12:3. Heck, 95:5:0 would be even sweeter if I could DO what I needed to accomplish at the point-of-work AND at my moment of need. And if it were 100:0:0 who can guess what happens to my productivity?
Personally, I do not want or need instruction through training – I want access to instructions or other relevant support at MY moment of need. If you must provide training, let it inform me of what needs to be accomplished and then give me access to the tools and infrastructure to apply the right assets at the moment of need and at the point-of-work. If you must “teach” me anything, spend those formal learning cycles on developing my recognition of when to use that infrastructure, how to access it, and what benefit “Gimme Three Clicks” will enable me to DO. And then let’s practice that. Do these things, and you will have my full engagement.
Our attention span-challenged…and quite technology savvy…workforce needs seamless, frictionless, and ubiquitous access to:
• The right instructions [learning and/or performance support assets]
• At the right time [their moment of need]
• In the right amount [intentionally designed to match the task at hand]
• In the right format [easily consumable and applicable at the point-of-work]
• To/from the right device [accessible at the point-of-work any time any where]
I must add that this need is not a generational issue; rather, it is a productivity issue. It is an indication surfacing throughout our new age workforce by a convergence of business velocity and continuous change. It is a competitive advantage issue.
The velocity of business demand and the continuous nature of change have created a perfect storm that have out-paced the capacity, scope, and charter of our traditional Training Paradigm. This perfect storm changes the rules of engagement and shifts the field of play to include a broader, more holistic approach that integrates with the downstream, post-training point-of-work where tangible business value is either generated…or lost by the workforce.
Long-held beliefs that training drives performance represent significant restrainers to sustained workforce capability and a promote a deeply ingrained mythology we must overcome.
Training does not drive performance!
Training only drives potential!
The statement above highlights the limits of relying upon training alone to drive business results. Critical demands for ensuring workforce agility and resilience manifest beyond the current scope of the best training programs; the best training design, best development and delivery practices that many L&D organizations rely upon as standard methodology. For a workforce to consistently function at optimal agility and resiliency, we must evolve beyond the current linear paradigm that is only scoped to transfer knowledge and skills through training…no matter how compelling and engaging we try to make it.
We are at a point of transformation that calls for shift to strategic integration of a Performance Paradigm. This shift represents a new game plan – based on five moments of need – that follow the workforce along a continuum from initial learning at the point-of-entry to sustained performance at the point-of-work.
Pursuing a performance paradigm requires deployment and incremental implementation of the disciplines necessary to enable full adoption of a sustainable Embedded Performance Support – EPS strategy.
Reaching full adoption of an EPS strategy implies several considerations:
• The adoption journey is a process of migration – incremental in nature – and dependent upon avoidance of the temptation to boil the ocean. Start small…
• Adoption will only succeed if there is a cultural acceptance by leadership that evidence of workforce capability ONLY manifests at the point-of-work and is measured by tangible business results. Recall the myth…we’re after performance…not just proof of potential.
• EPS is not a technology/software purchase – though technology/software may be in the future as adoption matures and is justified through tangible results.
• The combined attributes of the entire learning and performance ecosystem will define the business requirements necessary to having a fruitful investigation of technology/software options. In other words, step away from the technology until you’ve mapped your unique ecosystem requirements.
• Agile methodologies that accommodate intentional design, development and delivery of assets will drive an enhancement of L&D skillsets and best practices. Remember the “rules of engagement” have changed. So too must we change/evolve the approach. Plan on Change Leadership accompanying you on the journey to adoption.
• Training will survive; however, it must evolve to accommodate injection of point-of-work attributes that enable extending the blend of assets reflecting actual task-centric, role-specific work into formal learning venues. Bring the “70%” into the classroom.
• Start small – prove EPS viability with a Proof of Concept/Pilot – then scale as the good news goes viral across the organization.
Step Away From the Technology…For Now
Having successfully integrated EPS three times in the last 12 years, I wish I had had the benefit of the considerations listed above. Even knowing what I know now, I can promise you that the next adoption journey experienced will be different yet again. Every learning and performance ecosystem is unique. While some requirements will be common to all, there will be unique differences that make the journey unique.
Those very differences shape the technology/software requirements that make one EPS vendor more compatible than another – the very reason to avoid a premature technology-based decision.
But it’s more than technology differences. Methods change. Skills to optimize those methods change. Measures change. The question that likely comes to mind is “How would they change?” but to be honest, the better question to answer is “Change from what?
Without assessing your current state across design, development, and delivery methods; without considering current state of content and information resources; without considering current state of workflows and processes; without considering current state of technology and enterprise systems used in support of workflows; you have no solid basis upon which to build a functional, incremental migration path to take you to full EPS adoption.
Adopting a Performance Paradigm with EPS as the core discipline, and with the considerations I’ve just outlined, investing in an EPS Readiness Assessment is a reasonable investment toward answering the call for “Just Gimme Three Clicks!”
If you have an interest and would like to explore what this journey to Workforce Capability entails, give me a call or drop me an email. Also, my new home website has recently launched and I welcome you to stop by – Workforce Capability
Gary G. Wise
Workforce Capability Architect