POINT-of-WORK – Step Away from the Hammer!

Have any of you responded to a training request by nailing down an awesome blended solution only to experience post-training performance outcomes being less than desired? I must confess to having been party to this kind well-intended request…and more than once. But hey…the training product was awesome! Not to spoil a good mood…but I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of the phrase, “If Training is a hammer, then every performance problem is a nail” at some point in the past. That’s a dangerous paradigm.

Our team, when confronted with that hammer/nail phrase, would nod and/or smirk in disbelief that anyone on OUR team would ever approach a problem in that way…and then we’d accept the training request and go off to polish our hammer, fine-tune Articulate, retread Captivate with an upgrade, and start aligning competencies with learning objectives. Our mission was intended inject knowledge and skills into heads and hearts of the workforce necessary to train away performance problems.

In a previous life, one such training request came in and highlighted a performance challenge…an obvious nail…and, at the time, I led a talented training team equipped with the latest hammers. We were sales training in that past life. We trained. We used hammers to drive nails into performance challenges. Despite exceling in our primary role, we failed. We did NOT fail to deliver top-drawer training; we failed to validate what part…if any…training would play in sustaining workforce capability. It was our MO based on our paradigm myth that training drove performance. We believed it, and so did the requestors…so what went wrong?

What if…after closer inspection…we had discovered a hammer was the wrong tool for the job…or maybe not the wrong tool…but certainly not the only tool? We never looked. Didn’t have the motivation to look. We were paradigm-blinded. Maybe the more appropriate convicting question is, “Do we ever actually DO a closer inspection?”

PoWA - Nail

Yes, we were paradigm-blinded to the fact that there was a bigger picture than what our routine Training Needs Assessment would cover. What else was there to cover? Plenty! At the time we did not recognize that we owned a dynamic learning performance ecosystem comprised of a continuum upon which competency would be reached over time…on the job…in the workflow…where effective, consistent performance was critical for generating measurable business outcomes. All that was out of scope for our sacred training paradigm; hence, out of mind.

The Learning Performance Continuum spans from Point-of-Entry (from onboarding and new learning) to the ultimate post-training destination of sustained workforce competency at Point of-Work.

Without closer inspection, we never saw the value-generating segment of this continuum; instead, we rushed to nail down Point-of-Entry with a number of innovative training venues and solutions. This was not wrong; it was just not enough considering sustained capability was the ultimate prize.

Hopefully this little failure confession seriously illustrates that we are all faced with a paradigm shift that removes the blinders and expands our scope and…often…may exceed our skill sets to accomplish closer inspection of what is happening…or not…at Point-of-Work.

 Time for “Closer Inspection” Capabilities Needed in the L&D Toolbox

We must ask ourselves, “Do we have the skill set to accomplish a closer inspection?”

I suggest another question to consider, “Can we afford not to?”

After owning and evolving a Point-of-Work perspective as a L&D Performance Consultant over the last twelve years of my 30-plus in corporate L&D, I don’t believe we have the luxury to take a rain check on this skill set. We find ourselves in an avalanche of rapid change showing no signs of abating any time soon. If anything, it’s only increasing when we see rising velocity of competitive business demand; the continuous nature of change; and the complexities thrust upon our workforce from constant digital transformation implementations…just to name a few.

When you consider the associated performance attributes that stem from business demand, continuous change and new complex systems, one only needs to see where they make or break performance outcomes…you guessed it – Point-of-Work…the ignored part of the continuum.

My logic says if we need to assess anything it should be at ground zero where these attributes are directly relevant to impacting sustained performance – yes…Point-of-Work.

Based upon that logic…and in self-defense, I built DRIVER, a Point-of-Work Solution Discipline that contains a “closer inspection” discovery methodology called Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA). The intent behind these developments was to avoid dealing with accusations that my team’s training solutions were not effective. To that end, I evolved the paradigm to focus squarely upon Discovery at Point-of-Work and Road Mapping a solution that is supportive of agile design methodologies like 5 Moments of Need and 70:20:10. Building a solution using this discipline does NOT allow overlooking the post-training part of the continuum where business outcomes are generated…or compromised…or lost outright.

Is it time to step away from the hammer and consider the possibilities of adopting a Point-of-Work Paradigm? Maybe we should chat about how I can coach you through the transition.

Also, consider joining the new POINT-of-WORK Performance Support Solutions networking group I launched several weeks ago on LinkedIn to share ideas challenges and maybe even snag a best practice or two from some very talented professionals.

Thanks for reading and take good care!


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