Why Adopt Point-of-Work Assessment Methodology?

At conferences where I speak I always begin by asking, “How many of your organizations have a dynamic learning performance ecosystem in place today?” Rarely does a single hand go up. Some participants don’t know. Some are unsure. Some don’t want to embarrass themselves. And others simply think its BS jargon and suspect it’s a trick question. They would be correct…that it’s a trick question…not that it’s BS HR/L&D jargon. And then I share the following fact:

All organizations currently own a dynamic learning performance ecosystem

The inescapable and more relevant question to ask is

“How optimized is it?”

The answer to that question implies deploying an assessment methodology that establishes a current-state snapshot to benchmark just how optimized…or not…their learning performance ecosystem really is, and that requires positioning Point-of-Work as a workable ground zero. Why? Because…

Performance & Productivity Optimization is Experienced
By the Workforce and Evidenced By Measurable Outcomes
Only at Point-of-Work

The “ecosystem” concept simply means all aspects of workforce performance…in any/all roles…in any/all work tasks engaged at discreet Points-of-Work… have interdependencies that either drive or restrain performance outcomes. The Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) Methodology is not an agile design framework like 5 Moments of Need or 70:20:10; in fact, the final Point-of-Work Solution Road Map is design framework-agnostic. PWA is a front-end discovery tool designed to optimize and inform agile-based solution design and development frameworks not replace them.

To inform agile design frameworks, PWA, by default, must target Point-of-Work, our ground zero for assessment to accomplish two things:

  • Recommendations to resolve current state performance restraints; and
  • Optimize performance drivers with future-state recommendations

…via a high-level design Road Map used collaboratively by a Performance Strategist role and the traditional design/development team.

Don’t have a Performance Strategist? Hire…or develop one sooner than later. The Point-of-Work Solution Discipline represents a strategic re-think regarding how L&D needs to evolve to successfully negotiate a step-change approach to learning performance solution design, development, delivery, and tracking. The Strategist role should have performance consulting competencies; possess operational business savvy; and have some learning performance technology awareness. A Performance Strategist is a liaison role between traditional L&D solution design and the operational stakeholder and their workforce teams.

By adoption of this strategic, step-change, ecosystem orientation, it follows that a tactical commitment is equally important for identification of foundational performance attributes related to diverse Points-of-Work. Assessing attributes that restrain performance serve as a starting point for making informed solution design, development, delivery, and impact measurement decisions that optimize and sustain workforce performance.

Evolving Beyond Training Solutions

Traditionally, L&D teams handle requests and performance challenges by completing Training/Learning Needs Assessments (TNA or LNA) under the premise that training solutions will drive performance outcomes. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case…

Training Drives More Potential Than Performance!

Performance Outcomes Are Created– Compromised – or Lost
@ Ground Zero – POINT-of-WORK!

In the context of a dynamic learning performance ecosystem, TNAs or LNAs only addresses less than 1/6th of the attributes that drive or restrain performance outcomes at Point-of-Work. (See Figure 1)


Figure 1

A Point-of-Work Assessment Methodology (PWA) assesses performance attributes across the entire ecosystem (inclusive of TNA/LNA attributes addressed only in the Capabilities* category highlighted in Figure 1). Following is a sampling of attributes assessed based upon initial alignment and prioritization discussions before assessment discovery begins.


Every organization’s ecosystem is unique; in addition, every ecosystem is comprised of multiple interdependent micro-systems, each with unique attributes that drive and/or restrain their respective performance outcomes. As such the PWA methodology must be repeatable, scalable, and applied as multiple iterations based upon alignment and prioritization of Critical Business Issues (CBIs).

The PWA is top-down with leadership establishing prioritization based upon known CBIs; however, solution design and development are driven bottom-up with “Bottom” attributes framed by assessment findings from ground zero discovery at Point-of-Work.

  • Environment/Culture discovery questions used in the PWA are uniquely influenced by top-level leadership prioritization, hypotheses, political, and cultural biases.
  • Environment/Culture discovery questions asked of mid-level and line managers are influenced by answers provided upstream by leadership where the objectives are to both validate assumptions/hypotheses and investigate deeper at a more granular level.
  • Environment/Culture discovery questions asked of individual performers will be influenced in a similar manner as well with the ultimate objective being revelation of, and identification of, true root cause(s) as part of additional PWA discovery phases.

Given top-down direction and subsequent downstream levels of engagement and participation, solid commitment to Change Leadership principles are critical to ensure adoption of DRIVER Point-of-Work Solution Discipline. The Environment/Culture assessment phase looks at what internal/external attributes influence roles and capabilities at Point-of-Work? Attributes are assessed in multiple environments including:

  • Corporate: Culture/Mission/Vision; Corp Communications; Repeatable Change Leadership Model; Reward & Recognition; Empathy; Diversity & Inclusion; etc.
  • Internal: Organizational Design; Inter-company Collaboration; Cross Team &/Departmental Dependencies; Budget Restrictions; Urgency/Risk; etc.
  • External: Competition; Product/Service Mix; Company Consolidation; M&A Implications; Regulatory & Legal Compliance; etc.

Initial alignment interviews may discount/deprioritize attributes on the above list and/or reveal additional attributes not listed.


While Capability* represents the attributes relevant to knowledge and skills transfer specific to Training, there are other key attributes that can drive or restrain performance that have nothing to do with Training solutions. The assessment looks at what internal/external attributes influence roles and capabilities at Point-of-Work including:

  • Roles: Primary Performer(s) & Secondary; Managers/Coaches & Mentors; Peers & Partners; Help Desk; Operations & Support; Clients/Customers; Vendors; Affiliates; Interns; etc.
  • Team Dynamics: Engagement, Motivation, Career Development & Performance Management; Trust & Relationships; Peer-to-Peer Networking/Collaboration; etc.
  • Leadership: Clarity of Performance Expectations & Direction; Observation & Feedback; Active Supervision; Effective Communications; Recognition; etc.
  • Performer Capabilities: Readiness to Perform; Training, Knowledge & Skills* Transfer; Onboarding & Subsequent Training; Competency Alignment; etc.

Initial alignment interviews may discount/deprioritize attributes on the above list and/or reveal additional attributes not listed.


This phase of the PWA methodology focuses primarily on performance and productivity drivers and restrainers in terms of deficiencies; the reasons why; and sources of root cause(s) including:

  • Task-Centric, Role-Specific Workflows/Processes: Challenges/Roadblocks/Distractions Impacting Performance & Productivity at Point-of-Work; etc.
  • Performance Assessment: Gaps & Root Cause(s) Identified; Non-Critical Activities Diverting from Key Priorities; Broken Workflows/Processes/Protocols; etc.
  • Methodologies: Process Improvement; Performance Assessment; Methods & Procedures; Training Design & Development; Content Management Protocols; etc.
  • Point-of-Work: OJT/Hands-On Support; Guidance at Moment of Need; Support Requiring Workflow Exit for Resolution; Search/Navigation-Related Delays; etc.

Initial alignment interviews may discount/deprioritize attributes on the above list and/or reveal additional attributes not listed.


This phase of the PWA methodology focuses primarily on information and resources required to perform in the workflows and processes phase. In addition, this phase looks at content used to equip the workforce to function in a state of readiness and optimize speed-to-competency including:

  • Legacy Assets: Task-Level Relevance; Content Format Limiting Effective Application at Point-of-Work; Resources Missing or Restricted; etc.
  • Performance Support: Lack of Relevant PS Assets at Moments of Need at Point-of-Work; PS Assets and Technology Not Embedded/Used During Training; etc.
  • Accessibility: Availability of Moment of Need & Point-of-Work PS Resources During Active Workflows & Processes; Access to SMEs & Content Owners; etc.
  • Sustainability: Archived Resources & Information Maintenance & Update Protocols; External Resources & Information; Content Currency & Management; Content Owner Feedback Loops; etc.

Initial alignment interviews may discount/deprioritize attributes on the above list and/or reveal additional attributes not listed.


This phase of the PWA methodology focuses primarily on the enterprise systems, apps, tools and technologies used to access content and resources as well as perform task-level at Point-of-Work. Additionally, this phase assesses migration strategies and timeline associated with Digital Transformation and/or any planned upgrades or introduction of new technology L&D needs to support at Point-of-Work.

  • Enterprise: ERP Systems, Client-Facing CRM Systems; Tools Utilized; Apps; Mobile Capability Mix; Business Analytics; etc.
  • Learning & Support: LMS, LXP/LES, LCMS; Content Management; Knowledge Management; Authoring tools; Performance Support; Insight Curation; xAPI/LRS platforms; etc.
  • Accessibility: Stand-Alone Apps & Tools; Network Access; Bandwidth Availability; Wireless; Technical Support; Navigation & Search; Taxonomy/Metadata; etc.
  • Utilization: System Accessibility; Navigation & Search, UI Complexity; Bandwidth Restrictions; Challenges from Digitization Workflow/Process Changes; etc.

Initial alignment interviews may discount/deprioritize attributes on the above list and/or reveal additional attributes not listed


This phase of the PWA methodology focuses on the expanded role data analytics plays at the enterprise level; primarily on the capability to track and evaluate performance/productivity impacts at Levels 3 & 4 versus the limits of L&D evaluations at levels 1 & 2.

  • Benchmarks: Current KPIs; Mis-aligned and/or Missing Metrics; Future-State KPI Opportunities; Benchmarking Protocols; etc.
  • Accessibility: Ability to Access Relevant Reports/Data/Analytics/Dashboards; Track & Capture Performance Data; Access to Report Creation Capability; etc.
  • Utilization: End-User Application Tracking; Ability to Build/Request Reports; Data Analysis & Application of Report Data; Data-Driven Decision-Making; etc.

Sample PWA Findings Summary Report

The graphic below shows a sample Current-State summary of attributes found to be restraining performance across the client’s learning performance ecosystem.
(See Figure 2)

Attribute Summary
Figure 2

The source for the summary shown in Figure 2 above is the output from a PWA Worksheet Template designed to serve as a High-Level Solution Road Map for the Performance Strategist to use collaboratively with the L&D design team. The Road Map captures:

  • Discovery Questions Asked
  • Verbatim Responses
  • Attribute Category Tags (used for populating the pie chart in Figure 2)
  • Identified Performance Gaps
  • Performance Support Options
  • Formal Learning Options

The L&D Design Team then uses the Worksheet Template collaboratively with the Performance Strategist to complete their detailed design using whatever agile design framework of their choice:

  • 5 Moments of Need
  • 70:20:10
  • Successive Approximation Model (SAM)

Closing Thoughts

The PWA Methodology is designed and intended to expand assessment to include the remaining 5/6ths of the attributes in the learning performance ecosystem that traditional TNA/LNAs do not currently address. The intent of a PWA is NOT to discount training solutions when stakeholders make a request to improve performance; instead, the PWA ensures several design considerations are embedded with learning performance solutions…including training if it is validated as appropriate…including:

  • Confirmed root cause(s) restraining performance at Point-of-Work
  • Design of solution assets for direct access at moment of need at Point-of-Work
  • Solution assets are intentionally designed for use in training AND at Point-of-Work
  • Confirmed performance metrics (KPIs) capable of measuring impact at Levels 3 & 4
  • Validation of technology gaps restricting connection to assets by workers at moments of need and at Points-of-Work

There are additional uses of the PWA Methodology beyond assessing training requests including:

  • L&D team readiness to adopt DRIVER Point-of-Work Solution Discipline – to accomplish a current state snapshot of L&D team readiness across skills, methods and delivery technology footprint critical to adoption.
  • L&D utilization to support enterprise-wide initiative support by targeting critical business functions and Point-of-Work support required.
  • L&D alignment with and support of Digital Transformation efforts to ensure the workforce is equipped with learning performance assets synched with system-level tasks by role specificity throughout the transition journey.
  • L&D consideration of introducing new learning technology and application of essential feature capability alignment with Point-of-Work requirements and application.

In short, the PWA is iterative; scalable; a value-add to any agile design framework being used today; and PWA is an essential tool set for L&D to adopt when pursuing a step-change upgrade of capabilities to a Point-of-Work Solution Discipline.

Following is a testimonial from a recent client currently using the PWA Methodology:

Erica Sparrow – Learning and Performance Support Strategist – Biological Testing Technology Firm December 17, 2018

“At the start of 2018, I found myself in a new role as the Learning and Performance Support Strategist.  I knew I wanted to turn our training paradigm on its head; I wanted to make a shift and build a program with performance at the core. This was a huge task and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. 

I had been following Gary Wise’s blog, Living in Learning, (always a fun, motivational read) for quite some time when I came across the post titled Step Away from the Hammer!  After reading that specific post I decided to reach out to Gary, and shortly after that I began a workshop with Gary on his Point-of-Work Assessment.  During the workshop Gary shared so much of his knowledge, resources, and best of all, a strategic methodology to assess the attributes affecting the performance of the audiences we are trying to build training programs for.

I have been able to use the point-of-work assessment methodology this year, and it has given me the confidence that the training solutions our L&D teams build will be exactly what is needed.  The assessment guided the uncovering of so much more information than just the specific topics we initially started with.  We will now be able to build a training program to cover gaps that were discovered during the assessment. The solutions our L&D team create will fit in to the point-of-work, right at the moment of need.  I’m excited to have this PWA methodology as part of my tools.” 

For more information on PWA Methodology and Workshops, I invite you to stop by my website at Living In Learning!

As always, I appreciate the time invested to read and welcome thoughts, ideas and comments if you care to share.

Take good care!


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