Treat Point-of-Work Like Point-of-Impact…Because It’s the Same Place

March 11, 2019 – by Gary G. Wise

Saturday evening a thought crossed my mind and I posed it as a question on LinkedIn. As of this Monday morning, over 2,700 views indicate that maybe I’m not alone with this same thought. Here is the post from Saturday – “What if we broke tradition and L&D became Learning & Performance…L&P… where the focus was zeroed in on performance results at Point-of-Work where real results matter?” Comments and dialogue threads are all positive and encouraging enough to convince me a strategic blind spot does indeed exist that warrants serious consideration of re-thinking strategy, tactics, and technology to sustain workforce performance.

Think about engine failure on an airplane. How far will it fly? Exactly…all the way to the scene of the crash. Where does the NTSB begin investigating? Point-of-Impact…to figure out WHY the crash happened…with the intent of preventing future failures that may lead to crashes. The NTSB does not build better/safer airplanes as a result; rather, they are investigators focused on optimizing aircraft safety in the course of day-to-day use by identifying what, where, why and how things went wrong – root cause(s). They share findings designers that may impact future design solutions among other modifications and change protocols.  

Should corporate L&D or L&P or P&D or whatever we call it…have “investigators” who start at the Point-of-Work to sniff out the same details as to what happened to specific performance outcomes at the Point-of-Impact? Methinks the answer is a no-brainer, and it’s a clear indicator the time to shift thinking is now.

It matters less about what we call our corporate learning function than what strategies, tactics, and technology are brought to bear to prevent performance gaps from occurring/reoccurring. It may not always be a crash to trigger action; could be sub-optimal performance. Why it is sub-optimal? What is/are the root cause(s) behind it? We must get to the Point-of-Work and determine the Point-of-Impact before the crash occurs.

 The blind spot as I see all too often involves designing solutions to fit the existing learning architecture and development tools. Status quo solutions can be a greater source of un-sustained workforce performance given the scope of performance restrainers extends well beyond what training can impact. Our existing L&D scope is too narrow to include performance at task and role level application. I see a disconnect between Point-of-Work and investigations/assessments NOT conducted deep enough at the “scene of the crash” or “Point-of-Impact”. We cannot investigate effectively if we are predisposed to bring a training solution to bear as the only tool in the tool kit. That implies a strategic re-think…holistic assessment tacticsintentional design…and productivity acceleration technology will be blended into the solution. We’re going to need a bigger kit. [...hearing Jaws theme music]

 If our (L&D) job function tasks our teams with preventing and/or minimizing “crashes” where deficient workforce performance outcomes take place, we’d be hard-pressed to figure out what performance-enabling solutions made sense beyond knowledge transfer and skill-based solutions. Without the knowledge of WHY performance failed…was compromised…was not optimized…or pick your poison, we would be locked on to “pilot failure” every time…had to be a knowledge deficiency, because that’s what we want to see, and more pilot training would result. You know…the more – better- faster solution gunfire we dance to…

Even if it were more training what exactly would that training be intended to do if we do not fully investigate all the pieces and parts at Point-of-Impact? If the assessment is only looking for knowledge and skill gaps, the solution is likely going to be knowledge and/or skill-based. What if something else cause the crash? Who has time and resources to spare to invest in fixing a symptom and missing the true cause of what’s restraining performance?

 As with many of my examples shared in the past, this one is about as bizarre as it gets, but the message is simple. Point-of-Work and Point-of-Impact are in the same place. Point-of-Work is where the crash took place…and Point-of-Impact is the black box. Work yields Impact. If Work fails, Impact suffers. THAT is the connection that should drive L&D capabilities.

How can we determine evidence of performance outcomes at Point-of-Impact (evaluated at levels 3 & 4) without fully understanding the dynamics of task-centricity and role-specifics at Point-of-Work? That’s not a chicken/egg question; it’s about L&D having “investigators” or “consultants” or “strategists” or “performance ninjas” who go to the “scene of the crash” at Point-of-Work/Impact to assess performance attributes for details that define the performance influencers for the purpose of enabling intentional solution design, development tools and delivery technology at moment of need at Point-of-Work.

 If you plan to attend Learning Solutions 2019, consider session #809 on the 27th at 4PM ET – “Performance Support: Enabling Productivity Acceleration at Point-of-Work”. I can promise there will be no crashes experienced; however, there may be some disruption to existing thought processes on how we decide how we go forward with solution design development and delivery. 

Hope to see you there!


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