CONTENT CURATION:  Are We After Knowledge, Wisdom or Insights?

The obvious answer is, “All three, right?” It starts with curation, and rapid adoption of content curation across our L&D discipline is both encouraging to see and frightening to comprehend. The frightening part, based on my own curation experiences, and as an observer of the curation process, is how easily we create bulk information to serve as initial knowledge. Given the exponential growth of information sources and powerful search capabilities like Google at our disposal, a bulk-curated information tsunami is inbound…if not already on the beach.  We’ve effectively curated ourselves into a well-intended, curated, bulk information volume issue.

Bulk information is not a bad thing…it all came from reliable information sources…it has embedded knowledge potential within it…but it’s just not the end-game. What we should be striving to create are actionable performance insightsand those insights are embedded within the bulk information that was just curated from any number of reliable information sources. We are not misguided in our efforts, just a few steps short of actionable insights. (See figure 1)

FlowFigure 1- Courtesy of Pandexio

What I’m suggesting probably sounds like curating insights from curated information doesn’t it? Well…it is…it’s called Insight Curation…the next generation of content curation…the next steps toward actionable insights…the source for creating actionable Performance Insights. And…my suggestion sounds like it implies significantly more time and effort, right? Not necessarily if you consider what typically happens along the chain from first finding the SOURCES to delivering INSIGHTS across an enterprise or team.

The new metric that becomes relevant is uniquely aligned with the timeline spanning from the search for information SOURCES to delivering PERFORMANCE INSIGHTS that are accessible seamlessly, frictionlessly, and ubiquitously at the moment of need and at Point-of-Work is called SPEED-to-INSIGHT.

Bulk information, what we typically forward as attached articles and/or assorted documents to individuals and/or distribution groups via email, is simply not portable enough to be widely shared or applied consistently to solve problems in the workflow. PLUS…actionable insight(s) are still embedded within the bulk readings and not readily accessible without investing otherwise productive time reading what has already been read and deemed important to the cause. What we do is forward bulk information to others for them to do what? Spend more time reading…and extracting what they believe to be the key points of actionable information. This assumes they DO read…and not stick the document/article into the “To Read Later” file.

Hmmm…Wonder if maybe an insight extracted from the reading on the front-end by the initial curator might improve speed-to-insight by all subsequent readers? How much time would be saved? How well would continuity of key knowledge, wisdom, and key insights be ensured? Should we forward a 15-minute read or could a 30-second insight and abstract serve as sufficient?

The next question is likely to be something like, “So…which insights matter?” or “What is worthy or relevant for being considered as an insight?” Reasonable questions to be certain…and the only place that can frame the answer is found at ground zero for workforce performance – Point-of-Work. 

More of a Paradigm Expansion Than Shift

Relevance can be defined by the performance outcomes required. Relevance must be further defined by expanding our application context of discovery to holistically assessing the ecosystem attributes that drive or restrain performance at Point-of-Work:

  • Environment – Where will the insights be applied and under what working conditions like responsiveness, agility, urgency, business risk, cultural expectations, etc.
  • People/Capability – Who will use the insights? Who supports them? How are insights embedded into training? Do skills exist to think critically using insights? Do experiential exercises support critical-thinking using “real” insights and the technology available at Point-of-Work?
  • Workflow/Process – Where in the workflow do things fail and are insights part of a solution to close the gaps? Why does the workflow or process fail? What help is available within the workflow? How are obstacles to performance glitches overcome?
  • Content/Resources – What format should insights be in? How and by whom are they accessible? How are insights maintained? Indexed? Tagged? Targeted? Trained?
  • Systems/Technology – What technology should be implemented to facilitate the curation chain from finding the sources to delivery at moment of need at Point-of-Work? What end-user technology is in place? How much chaos is digital transformation causing at Point-of-Work?
  • Impact/Analytics – Who utilizes the insights? To what extent? Which insights are most used? What do evaluation data at Levels 3&4 tell us? Are there performance analytics not tracked that should be?   

Without using a Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) methodology we are unlikely to answer most of these questions. Intentional Design plays a significant role here as well, with “intentionality” framed by the PWA assessment findings and the resulting Solution Road Map to inform future design, development, and technology decisions.

I’m hearing lately about our need to “teach people how to learn” and agree to an extent. When we consider how closely “learning” is blended into the workflow, how is it possible to design effectively to enable learning in the flow of work…and at the same time drive measurable performance outcomes? To be successful enabling learning in the workflow we need to teach workers:

  • When to use the enabling assets…insights…job aids…checklists…etc.
  • Where to find these enabling assets…
  • How to apply these enabling assets…
  • How to provide feedback if the enabling assets are not so enabling due to inaccuracies, ineffectiveness, irrelevance to the task(s), currency issues, etc.

Closing Thoughts

Why is Speed-to-Insight a critical business measure? Simply because speed-to-action matters. Speed-to-productivity matters. Speed-to-change matters. Speed-to-adoption matters. Speed-to-impact matters. I think I’ve probably used all of these in past blog posts, and they all point back to what we DO at Point-of-Work. And…most, if not all, come from a seed of insight that prompts or enables meaningful action, critical-thinking, informs strategic decision-making, validates decisions, enables performance, creates or protects business value, and promotes continuous learning. The quicker we transition from information sources to delivering insights at moment of need and at Point-of-Work the better.

What we’re missing are opportunities to:

  • Use Performance Support for tactical moments of need…AND…Performance Insights for strategic moments of need
  • Enable rapid capture of insights from bulk information to enable critical-thinking and informed strategic decision-making
  • Easily capture wisdom and insights that can be rapidly shared, tagged, targeted, and searched seamlessly, frictionlessly and ubiquitously across the ecosystem
  • Accurately and intentionally target insights to relevant workers for application in their respective workflows
  • Encourage engagement and sharing of insights across the ecosystem
  • Track utilization and participation across the ecosystem

Maybe this really is a paradigm shift for some organizations. It’s certainly an expansion of our (L&D) scope of awareness. It feels like insights based on “aha” moments and not intentionally shared, preclude future “aha’s with other key worker contributions when, as an organization, we are hard focused on sustaining workforce performance at Point-of-Work.

If this post triggers an interest, I’d be happy to take your team through the “Point-of-Work: A New Ground Zero for Performance” presentation I gave at DevLearn this past October. It will only cost you 90-minutes you’ll never get back and access to your Webex, GoTo, or whatever collaboration platform you use. Just ping me for an upfront alignment discussion and provide some context around what tripped your trigger.

As always, I welcome thoughts, comments, and ideas.

Gratuities can go straight to PayPal (koff)…

Thanks for reading and take good care!


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