Behind the Curtain of a Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) Methodology

We’ve all completed Training Needs Assessments and designed solutions that embrace all manner of innovative learning blends. We’ve “Micro-ed”, MOOCed, Virtual delivered, Simulated, and who knows what else to create sexy sizzling training content that is well-intended and yet only produces…wait for it…POTENTIAL. Quite honestly, “nobody’s done nothin’”…yet…no value-producing business outcomes have been generated until the learner/performer arrives on the job [Point-of-Work] and executes at the task level. Performance manifests only at Point-of-Work (PoW). Why bother to assess training needs when the real value we seek takes place downstream…after training has been applied?

In my last post on defaulting to tribal knowledge I shared the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

Completed training is represented as the left-most milestone on this curve. Within only a day of completing even the best training, 2/3 of the knowledge transferred during training is toast. Within a day or longer the performer is at PoW making decisions and taking actions without the safety net of the training environment. As knowledge degrades, the margin of error increases at an alarming rate. Now actions taken in error are directly connected to negative impact to tangible business outcomes.

My core point here is straightforward – we have a mandate to treat workforce performance as a continuum from Point-of-Entry (onboarding and 1st learning) to Point-of-Work (sustained performance competency). Therefore, it makes sense to me that any assessment efforts undertaken should include the downstream, post-training PoW; hence, the need for a holistic Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA). We’re faced with supporting a dynamic learning performance ecosystem and to only address the “learning” component neglects the area of the ecosystem where business outcomes are generated…or lost due to errors, delays, business liabilities, excess material waste, etc.

Where does a PWA fit, and why should you give a rip?

Below is a workflow graphic of where the PWA take place in the context of a Learning Performance Workflow. What is not shown on the graphic are the systems and technology utilized, supported or required (in some cases) to maximize support of the business outcomes portion of the ecosystem. Let’s take a walk-through at a high level.


  1. PWA – The PWA is where the Performance Strategist/Performance Consultant (PS/PC) conducts a collaborative multi-level discovery effort that begins at a senior level in the target organization. This could be as significant as a corporate-wide initiative, or as small as a stand-alone project. This point is where strategic level goals, business objectives, challenges, hypotheses, and targets are revealed…also note the connection to Measurement and Outcome Analytics. This is where KPIs are revealed and confirmed as valid performance indicators. Also note that Staff is called out in this collaboration as well. It is important to accomplish discovery with the actual workers/performers at PoW by role and by task.
  2. Intentional Design – This is an ongoing collaboration between the PS/PC and design team based upon the PS/PC’s findings from the PWA that include performance attributes specific to People/Capability. Work/Processes, Content/Resources, Systems/Technology, Measurement/Analytics, and Environment. A Learning Performance Road Map enables Intentional design to address all five of Gottfredson’s Moments of Need (MoN) in the context of role-specific & task-centric performance requirements discovered at PoW.
  3. Production – This point is where ID hands off and content assets are produced. This also is where agile design principles are used to produce increments of the solution for release through tests with pilot groups for evaluation of effectiveness, accessibility and business relevance. Feedback gleaned by the PS/PC and interactions with the design team enable iterations and refinements to the asset(s).
  4. Test/Pilot & Delivery – As mentioned above, incremental testing of assets allows for rapid development as opposed to waiting for the entire solution to be completed. Who knows…maybe an increment of performance support is all that is necessary, and performance is impacted positively on the spot? Who needs training if a job aid will do? That said, a job aid used immediately in the field at PoW should also be intentionally designed into formal learning at Point-of-Entry to ensure a thread of continuity from 1st learning to PoW.
  5. Measurement & Outcome Analytics – This is once again supports the PS/PC to harvest performance outcomes results and continue collaboration with senior leadership. What is significant here is the continuing collaboration between leadership and the PS/PC to close the loop on evidence of impact that leadership pre-approved in the initial stages. Please recognize we are waaay downstream in maintaining a partnering relationship with our stakeholders by pursuing results that prove our worth as a cost center.

Keep in mind the PWA workflow shown here is in the context of learning and performance asset development only. The discovery associated with Systems/Technology mentioned in step #1 addresses the current state technology implications and potential for a future state infrastructure that enables delivery of performance support assets within the workflow at PoW. The nature of the performance that utilizes business systems and technology in the context of actual workflow processes define “best fit” for performance support technology. It is the job of the PS/PC in their collaboration with design and production teams to include these parameters in the LP Road Map to ensure compatibility and PoW application.

So…here are a couple of questions to consider:

  • Does your organization have individuals equipped as PS/PCs capable of conducting an PWA?
  • Do you have intentional design methodologies in place to address MoN across the entire dynamic ecosystem?
  • Do you bake in KPIs relevant to reflect evidence of impact at Levels 3&4 in your solutions?
  • Do you have the right mix of performance support infrastructure to effectively address PoW?
  • Is L&D agile and resilient enough to keep pace with the velocity of business demand and the continuous nature of change?

I can think of others, but these should get you started. If your answers are not a resounding YES to these questions, I suggest you consider a PWA readiness assessment of your L&D team to identify performance gaps in the services and solutions you produce in your current state. Let’s road map a path to a future state together.

I welcome conversations to explore how you can evolve your L&D “human infrastructure” critical to moving solutions from only delivering POTENTIAL…to supporting measurable performance outcomes at PoW.

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