Driving Performance Guidance @ Point-of-Work

Would you agree that organizational leadership at all levels seek positive, sustainable performance outcomes from their workforce?  It is likely safe to assume that this is a unanimous quest, and many activities target this coveted objective. And yet, one of the key business partners, Learning & Development (L&D) continue to reach this objective with a limited Training Paradigm. L&D is accomplishing an old school objective of transferring knowledge and skills. The result? Though well-intended, the result can only ever contribute to one deliverable – POTENTIAL!

If sustained workforce performance truly represents the universal brass ring, L&D…or some other corporate entity…must evolve tactically and adopt a performance mindset head downstream into the post-training environment where measurable outcomes and value are generated…or lost – Point-of-Work (PoW).

From numerous training innovations ranging from micro-learning, to virtual instruction, to rich-media injections, to name a few, the results of training activities do indeed transfer knowledge. No argument there; however, retention of that knowledge is time-bound and a limiting factor that degrades the ability to actually perform effectively at task-level at PoW.

The training content and all the innovations to deliver it are not the culprits; the human factor of the workforce’s ability to retain the knowledge capability long enough to execute their job requirements illustrates that potential is not enough.

Reference memory and recall memory define limiting factors we must take steps to overcome. Effectively and efficiently confronting both require strategic and tactical interventions at PoW where we satisfy discrete, and diverse moments of need while minimizing delay. Reference memory represents the knowledge (or lack of) that resources exist to support moments of need in specific work contexts. The challenge arises from remembering where to find them without extraordinary delays searching for them. Recall memory represents on-board knowledge upon which the worker has retained (or not) and then applies that knowledge at their specific moment(s) of need; which, by the way, manifest at PoW where tangible business value is either generated…or lost.


Training Strategy Disruption at the Hands of Convergence & Digitization

Given the increasing velocity of business demand and the continuous nature of change, it becomes dangerously apparent that traditional training modalities have effectively been flanked. Traditional training design and development attempt to counter with agile design and development tactics; a reasonable shift, but…as already discussed, if training solutions only address potential, one must seriously consider, “Are innovative training solutions an appropriate counter-attack?”

We say “No!” And if we add in the tsunami of mission-critical digitization initiatives, we can only see an even steeper wave of demand headed straight at an overwhelmed L&D armed with an outdated training paradigm. What we see happening is an opportunity to enable the convergence of learning with PoW.

Training solutions and traditional Training technologies like the Learning Management System (LMS) were never designed or scoped to address PoW or the nature of this convergence we’re seeing. The solution assets that accommodate a “converged” environment of PoW and discrete moments of need are, by nature, NOT training solutions. The workforce does not need training solutions at PoW, they need Performance Guidance that enables immediate access to “how to” guidance aligned with where they are in their respective workflows when moments of need arise.

With digitization of enterprise systems soaring, should we not attempt to get in front of the curve of impending workforce demand and evolving performance expectations with digitization of our ability to deliver Performance Guidance at PoW?

We say, “YES and…!”


Cloud-based Digital Performance Guidance (DPG) represents a new evolution in performance support technology. DPG eliminates the need to search for “how to” resources and delivers them contextually within the workflow AND within the application being used at individual user’s moments of need. Our “YES and…” response indicates there is more to jumping on the DPG bandwagon than making a technology decision.

Remember, we are attempting to respond effectively to Convergence as the driving force exacerbated by velocity of business, digitization, continuous change, and the human factor of knowledge retention issues. Certainly making a responsive decision is becoming more urgent every day, but that decision needs to be correct today as well as 12-18 months from inception when scalability demands become commonplace.

We no w have a new question set to address:

  • What is an effective L&D strategy to pursue?
  • What tactics/methods need to evolve to meet the demand?
  • What should our PoW deliverables look like?
  • What skills/capabilities do we need to have on board in L&D?
  • What is the “right” technology to accommodate this concept of convergence?
  • How do we set priorities and accommodate scale?
  • Where do we start?


Adopting a Convergence Strategy for a Learning Performance Paradigm

Road mapping an effective counter-attack represents a logical beginning; however, one cardinal rule to keep in mind – “Do not confuse being ready to adopt an evolved paradigm with being at a state of readiness to adopt an evolved paradigm!” In other words, step away from the bright shiny technology solutions until the “right one” is part of your road map. The standard advice we give suggests this adoption process is an incremental organizational change initiative as much as potential integration of new technology.

The internet boasts of numerous recommendations for L&D teams to integrate “design think” to reshape their solution deliverables. We don’t discount the viability of that approach…BUT…strongly suggest that pursuing design think without an umbrella of PoW Performance Think can only serve to punch a return ticket backward to solutions that primarily render Potential. Want to impact performance? Target your solutions to ground zero at PoW.

Defining “Readiness” with a Learning Performance Assessment (LPA)

Our recommendation is a font-end investment in the pursuit of “readiness” necessary to inform any decisions regarding future evolution of your current paradigm. The key output establishes a Current State Benchmark. By investing in an assessment of where your organization is today…not just your L&D team…but in the context of business partnerships and performance outcome priorities that have direct impact on the bottom line. Without establishing a current state benchmark, definition of Future State and developing a reliable, scalable road map to make the journey is left to chance.

Making a front-end investment in an ecosystem-wide Learning Performance Assessment (LPA) should precede any technology purchase decisions, tactical methodology changes, new authoring software purchases, and even the skill sets of potential future L&D new hires. Remember, we are treating your business universe as a Dynamic Learning Performance Ecosystem.

Figure 1

Point-of-Work IS the New Ground Zero for Learning & Performance

Given measurable business outcomes originate at PoW, it makes sense to accomplish discovery targeting attributes that restrict or limit performance outcomes…what those obstacles are and why they exist! The LPA looks at six key areas (See Figure 1) that have potential individually or in combination to restrict or limit performance outcomes. These discovery findings represent Current State and provide a reliable benchmark from which construction of a road map to Future State is possible.

It is important to keep in mind that Learning Performance solutions do not represent a training event or a course-level transaction. Making this journey is not a “one and done” proposition; instead, adopting a Learning Performance Paradigm is an ongoing discipline.

Truth is that every L&D organization owns a dynamic learning performance ecosystem today. That fact should send a wake-up call and begs for answers to a couple of questions:

  • “How optimized is yours?”
  • “Are your solutions and your workforce as agile…as responsive…as resilient…as the dynamic attributes of your ecosystem?”
  • Are you “ready”…or…“at readiness” to address Ground Zero at PoW?

Let us help build a road map to your Future State! Give us a call and we can determine what next steps make sense for your ecosystem.

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