POINT-of-WORK: Optimize the ENTIRE Ecosystem with Intentional Design

Once upon a time I was under the influence of learning technology; strung out on LMS. It was a relentless addiction to the perception that training drove performance outcomes. It’s all my team could think about, and it was all our stakeholders could think about. Everyone encountering a performance challenge wanted TRAINING. If the desired performance did not result, we obviously needed more, better, faster training. In reality, the only two things we ever came close to optimizing were Bob Mosher’s first two Moments of Need…NEW & MORE, and the only outcome we ever came close to optimizing was POTENTIAL. We never considered the rest of the ecosystem where work…end-user performance…productivity…and measurable business outcomes manifested – POINT-of-WORK.

We never considered where in the ecosystem sustainable productivity by a capable workforce needed…not more, better, faster training…but instead, more, better, faster post-training assets and opportunities to perform. Those assets and opportunities were not training because we never intentionally designed solutions for task-centric, role-specific Moments 3, 4 & 5 – APPLY, SOLVE & CHANGE. Additionally, ALL three of those Moments of Need surfaced at Point-of-Work, and to make matters worse, ALL fell outside of the scope and mission of our Training (L&D) organization. We failed by omission, not commission. Maybe the concept of “ecosystem” was not jargon as we had surmised.

Breaking the Addiction

So…did that mean we were wasting our time and money on training? Yes and no!

  • YES – if all we had in scope was to continue to provide training in whatever innovative, micro-ed, MOOC-ed, and gamified ways we could dream up.
  • NO – unless our scope failed expand to address the rest of the ecosystem…and…if we failed to embed assets/opportunities into training that mirrored the attributes of Point-of-Work.

In other words, we needed to evolve and step up to adopt Intentional Design practices.  You could say we were well-intended, but we were not yet intentional.

Call it a paradigm shift if you like, but I’d prefer to look at it as an evolved discipline – to be more precise…a Point-of-Work Discipline. We need to build assets/opportunities intentionally for Moments 3, 4 and 5 and deliver contextually into the workflow. But…we cannot exclude training because true intentional design enables using that same Point-of-Work technology and blending those very same assets/opportunities into experiential learning at Moments 1 & 2…intentionally. That design intentionality represents a challenge when you consider 60% of the Moments of Need are out of scope for training programs, training content, and our beloved LMS technology.

If one’s hair is on fire, the only solution should NOT involve logging into the LMS and completing a “Fire Safety” course. Yeah, I know…ridiculous example, but it paints an accurate picture that points to the need for “just enough – just-in-time – just-for-me” assets/opportunities intentionally designed for application at the Moment of Need. But…we need to know what are those Moments, who owns them, and where are they in their respective workflows when they surface.

Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) Enables Intentional Design

What are the best “just enough – just-in-time – just-for-me” assets/opportunities…and for what specific purpose? The answer to those questions will not come from traditional Training Needs Assessments (TNA); instead, they will be defined by the findings from the PWA. No TNA considers all the performance attributes included in the PWA methodology. Briefly, here are the six categories of performance attributes:

  • Environment – What are the attributes of urgency and risk tied to performing the work?
  • People/Capability – Who does the work? Who supports the work? Who can DO the work?
  • Workflow/Process – What is the work? Where does it fail? Why does it fail? Root cause(s)?
  • Content/Resources – What is needed to perform effectively? How accessible is it? Searchable?
  • Systems/Technology – What tech is accessed to do the work? What end-user tech is used to access the enterprise tech? Access? Bandwidth? Compatibility? Digital Transformation Maturity?
  • Metrics/Analytics – How is work measured? What serves as accepted evidence of impact?

The output from the PWA informs a high-level design road map for all five Moments of Need found at Point-of-Work…and…during the training segment of the Learning Performance Ecosystem. The solution road map informs what intentional design must create to fill the requirements for “just enough – just-in-time – just-for-me” assets/opportunities.

7-Right Things

If Moments 3, 4 & 5 are out of scope for training content and the beloved LMS, how do we address the non-training nature of design without generating considerable redundant effort? I’ve identified 7-Right Things that must be identified when we consider our design decisions…remembering 60% of their PWA attributes are currently out-of-scope.

Using a PWA Context

If we use the PWA to assess the performance attributes found at Point-of-Work, the alignment of design decisions with PWA category findings is essential…you might even say…intentional.  Following are two summary slides of the PWA categories and several key attribute examples that must be defined if we have a solid basis for accurately defining the 7-Right Things.

1st Three

2nd Three

What Defines RIGHT Technology?

Why have I chosen technology out of all seven categories to address further? The RIGHT technology is not so much a “technology” decision as it is a composite definition comprised of findings in the other six attribute categories of the PWA.

There are a number of technology vendors who can address the Point-of-Work, so which one do you consider? Having been faced with this decision on numerous occasions in the last several years in multiple client ecosystems, I’m convinced the two questions most critical to answer are:

  • What are the current & future state of your ecosystem?
  • What are your “sweet spots”?

“Sweet spots” represent a composite of your current state critical business issues…and future state. Why future state? Virtually all organizations are engaged in Digital Transformation to one extent or another. This means there is likely a migration plan associated with the transition to the cloud. Current state provides an accurate snap shot of today, but what about tomorrow? Both are critical to discern as they must align with vendor capabilities.

Every vendor in this space has one or more sweet spots their platforms can address. That said, it’s best to nail down your ecosystem’s current/future state before firing off a half dozen RFPs…only to receive five responses all saying they can do everything. While they might do most things; some do it better…and easier…and without customization. There are many sweet spots to distract you, but without PWA findings to establish current state and future state it’s easy to fall prey to the bright shiny object syndrome.

Critical business learning performance requirements drive technology decisions
…not the other way around

An easy mistake to make is shopping for a “point solution” when some of the technology options are holistic, cloud-based, scalable, and system agnostic. The technologies are capable of supporting the ENTIRE ecosystem; that is not a transaction, but a migration. You must get beyond the mind-set of “seeing solutions” as training transactions and considering adoption rationale as a shift in discipline toward sustaining performance outcomes. Making the right technology choice will enable scaling across the enterprise and making a limiting choice of platform to address current requirements and overlooking future direction could be career limiting.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve thrown a lot at you in this post and possibly generated more questions than answers, and yes, I’ve been known to do that on occasion. But there is a reason. This whole Point-of-Work discipline thing covers an entire ecosystem and 1,200 words cannot come close to covering it all, so questions are expected. I’ve also not mentioned any vendors in this post. I have my thoughts about who & what “best in class” implies but choosing that path can vary depending upon:

  • What “current state” looks like;
  • What critical learning performance ecosystem challenges are a priority; and
  • What “future state” looks like on the drawing board.

I am speaking in Chicago at Online Learning 2018 on October 9th – Session #307, and again in Las Vegas at DevLearn 2018 – Session #305 at (time TBD by the eLearning Guild later in October) somewhere between the 24th and 26th. The topic will be on the Point-of-Work Discipline and how and why a PWA Discipline and Point-of-Work Technology integrate to enable adoption.

I’ll start posting to Twitter in the near future on #OL307 (Chicago) and #DL305 (Las Vegas) with pre, during & post-conference minutia. I plan to capture questions, comments, back-channel chat, and my responses via these two hashtags so you can follow along without being at the conferences…and you can keep them alive with your own contributions.

Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome questions, ideas, thoughts, and comments as you are so moved.

Take good care!


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