Many of you who are regular readers of my blog know how fanatical I am about performance support. After over twelve years of chasing the PS rabbit I have a confession to make…I’m done chasing PS…directly. The chase is near futile when the perfect opportunity is often deeply buried within the organization’s ecosystem, and at times, never to be recognized as a viable option because…the PS solution is located in a blind spot; a blind spot known as a Training Paradigm. I’ve decided the chase is too narrow, and it’s really not about the PS rabbit, it’s about shaping Change around a Performance Paradigm…maybe performance support is needed…maybe not. It usually is in some manner, but jumping on PS is the wrong place to start.
I recently saw a video of a lioness patiently stalking a herd of Wildebeests. She waited in the tall grasses. She watched diligently for the perfect opportunity to pounce; searched for what she deemed as the best point of attack to win a meal. Out of the blue a large male lion comes streaking into the picture scattering the herd and pouncing almost immediately on one of the unfortunate beasts. Done! He had his meal. What struck me wasn’t so much his quickly gaining the meal as it was the broader view of his tactical approach.
What the lion attacked was the herd with the primary objective of gaining a meal. What the lioness tried to do was the same thing but with a narrowly focused approach. Both were after the perfect opportunity; the difference was how they found it. This example is not too dissimilar of how we approach managing change. The lion focused on the herd…the learning and performance ecosystem…he dove in not knowing what solution would present itself as an opportunity, while the lioness focused on the perfect single solution. Both wanted a meal.
Attacking the entirety of the dynamic learning and performance ecosystem reveals one or more opportunities and, here’s the kicker, they always manifest at the Point-of-Work. I agree that Change may not always be driven by deficient performance, but even when external drivers push the Change, there is normally a linkage somewhere along the line tied directly to performance…often new performance…with no history of being deficient. Call it pre-emptive Change, but still, the Point-of-Work is at the focal point
Finding the weak link at the Point-of-Work and assessing how to attack the performance gap(s) and their associated root cause(s) are truly where Change needs to be effective…and being effective requires creating sustained capability at the Point-of-Work.
Shaping Organizational Change
Affecting organizational change (OC) requires many variables to align…and…with the addition of highly focused consideration of the workforce’s work context. I say this with conviction because there are new and/or existing drivers and/or restrainers related to performance are pressing for the need to change and that becomes visible and tangible at the Point-of-Work. What are those current state drivers and restrainers? They must first be identified and to accomplish this, we must assess Current State before we can build a road map to affect Change. And this approach is valid whether Change is as small as a single work team or as transformational as shifting deeply-embedded traditions that define a company culture.
Current state should answer some key questions. Following are a few top-level root questions I rely upon to direct current state discovery. Obviously, there are more questions that would follow, but these six groups are at the top of my list.
- What performance is deficient? (Task-centric, role-specific)
- Who are the Performers & support roles? (Primary, secondary, dis-associated audiences)
- When does the performance breakdown? (Event-triggered, frequency, etc.)
- Where does the breakdown manifest? (In workflows and geographically)
- How does the work happen? (Systems, tools, information resources used)
- Why give a rip? (Define value, cost of deficiency, cost to fix, business risk & impact)
Knowing these current state attributes provide the basis for formulating a road map to affect Change to whatever degree necessary to accomplish one thing – sustain capability at the Point-of-Work.
Change may tactically take the form of improving access to information; adopting an intentional design, development and delivery methodology to drive workforce learning; acquiring performance consulting expertise to repeat the discovery methodology around defining current state for future Change opportunities; introduction of versatile new learning and performance technology to ensure eight “right things”.
Eight “Right” Things
When we focus on a new ground zero to affect sustainable change…the Point-of-Work…we are at the third of Gottfredson’s Moments of Need – the moment of APPLY – where Performers apply knowledge and skills at the task level. (See Figure #1). Note Moments 3, 4 & 5 are all located at the Point-of-Work.
The eight right things required to support effective and efficient performance at the Point-of-Work…and…extracted as evidence from that same work include:
- The right seamless, frictionless, and ubiquitous ACCESS…
- To the right learning and performance ASSETS…
- By the right USERS (Learners AND Performers)…
- At their right MOMENT OF NEED…
- Intentionally designed, developed and delivered in the right AMOUNT…
- In the right compelling, readily consumable, task-relevant FORMAT…
- To/from the right DEVICES…
- To enable extraction of the right EVIDENCE to validate and measure business impact
What I’ve just shared is, in and of itself, a holistic road map to the performance side of organizational Change. In reality, this “right thing” performance road map represents a subset of a larger repeatable 10-step Change Leadership methodology, touching multiple steps. The secret sauce is building this capability in-house to equip the right individuals with the ability to re-use the approach on every Change opportunity.
Whether you consider this as my personal approach to attack the whole herd or something you choose to adopt, the objective for affecting Change should always include the Point-of-Work. As hard as I try to think of any Change initiative, large or small, I’m hard-pressed to think of one that did not require a change of behavior…different decision points and choices…different processes…different tactics…different information resources, systems, tool, skills, knowledge…and the list goes on. The common denominator, on whether Change is sustainable or not, is what happens at the Point-of-Work…meaning full adoption…by those tasked directly to execute and/or those tasked to support, manage and mentor.
This approach is at the core of a Performance Paradigm. Our current Training Paradigm perpetuates the myth that Training drives performance. Sorry, but Training alone only drives potential. If we truly seek sustained performance and workforce capability we must plunge into the herd and head downstream into the post-training Point-of-Work to map the eight “right things” that will render a meal to remember.
Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker
Web: Living In Learning
2 thoughts on “How Point-of-Work Shapes Effective Change”
Gary, your story about the lion and the lioness reminded me of what Lord Horatio Nelson was reported to have said to his commanders before the naval battle at Trafalgar: “Never mind the manoeuvrers, always just go straight at them”. Britain won that famous battle with those unexpected tactics (although it cost Nelson his life), and it reminded me that waiting around to do what we have always done in the past can be the path to failure. If Nelson were addressing us today I can imagine him saying “Never mind the learning, just focus on the performance”. I would follow him into battle on that cry.
And your reference to Current State analysis reminded me of what Charles Jennings told me many years ago about the way he was changing the role of L&D at Reuters, from one where they focused on developing training when requested by the business (Charles called that a ‘conspiracy of convenience’) to one where they provided performance consultancy services to the business as their core reason for being. In effect Charles was offering his L&D folks a new and rewarding (and valuable) career.
I’m not finding much distance between a performance readiness assessment and building a Change road map, and being a performance consultant at the core seems to be the common denominator. Thanks for reading and sharing a couple of great thoughts, Ted!