7-Right Things for Intentional Design to Be Intentional Enough

Whenever I speak at conferences and on webinars the phrase intentional design immediately triggers a comparison with instructional design…and rightly so, because it has everything to do with instructional design skills. The difference implies taking those ID skills and applying intentionality to the design process. More specifically, intentionality toward supporting knowledge workers at their moments of need and at their diverse Points-of-Work. The biggest reveal is that intentional design encompasses much more than simply content. Taking this larger scope into account, there is a direct impact on whether intentionally design solutions are intentional enough.

The graphic provided below (See Figure 1) describes the 7-Right Things essential for impactful intentional design. Not surprisingly, achieving impact at Point-of-Work by accelerating productivity that yields measurable business outcomes is the ultimate endgame.

Figure 1

RIGHT ACCESS to Effective, Relevant, Seamless, Frictionless, and Ubiquitous Workflow Assets

ACCESS is at the core of 7-RIGHT THINGS because if the knowledge workers do not have immediate access in their workflows to intentionally designed support assets, the other 6-RIGHT THINGS become secondary. It is important to note that what knowledge workers need to access is not always content-based. In some cases, for example, we may find that access to another person at a moment of need serves a better purpose than a content document or some resource buried in a knowledge base. In my use of the word “asset”, bear in mind that it may be a human resource, or a video clip, audio snippet, etc. Determining what is the RIGHT ACCESS is defined by Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) findings that map the work environment and the nature of the performance restrainers limiting productivity during moments of need. Without this discovery information intentionality may fall short. Consider these attributes of the RIGHT ACCESS:

  • Effective – implies that whatever asset(s) selected they must be tested for effectiveness as confirmed by knowledge workers at their respective Points-of-Work.
  • Relevant – implies we have accurately defined the nature of both the knowledge worker’s role and their task-level work as they confront performance restrainers impeding productivity.
  • Seamless & Frictionless – imply reducing the time required to find the assets. This has further implications on search functions and the taxonomy (folksonomy, if you will) based on search terms, keywords/phrases a knowledge worker may use to find the asset(s). Bob Mosher uses a phrase “two-clicks or 10-seconds” to find relevant assets; that’s not a lot of time spent searching. I’ll share more on this in the RIGHT TECHNOLOGY…
  • Ubiquitous – implies the ability to access the asset(s) anytime from anywhere and from any device. Again, more on this in the RIGHT TECHNOLOGY section.

In an xAPI breakout session at a conference a few years ago, Aaron Silvers of Yet Analytics used a phrase “Just Enough – Just in Time – Just for Me” when describing the granularity of what xAPI could track. I’m applying his phrase as criteria for intentionally designing learning performance solutions.

RIGHT AMOUNT – Just Enough

What is the RIGHT AMOUNT? The PWA answers this question by identifying the nature of the performance restrainers confronted at the Point of-Work. An urgent moment of need (hair on fire) would be better served by a performance support object (checklist, etc.) versus a link to the LMS for taking a Fire Safety Micro-Learning course.

RIGHT TIME – Just in Time

 RIGHT TIME speaks to one of the Five Moments of Need Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson champion. Which of the moments NEW. MORE, APPLY, SOLVE, or CHANGE are identified by the PWA? All of them! In fact, the RIGHT TIME may be associated with more than one moment…and often should be…which is part of what intentionality is all about. For example, if there is a moment of need at APPLY at Point-of-Work, why not also embed the solution in formal learning content in moments NEW and/or MORE? Additionally, we need to consider not only WHEN is the RIGHT TIME but where in the workflow do the moment(s) of need surface? If the moment of need is at step 15 of 37 in a Customer Service Agent’s workflow while engaged with an inbound client call, then contextual delivery becomes a serious consideration for a number of productivity and customer satisfaction reasons.

RIGHT PEOPLE – Just for Me

Ultimately, we desired to connect the RIGHT PEOPLE to the assets relevant to their respective job roles and at those tasks that are restrained in some way. Smacks of personalized learning, right? Certainly, it does, and why not personalized performance support at the moment of need? Again, the PWA matches up roles with tasks and relevant performance restraints experienced in the workflow at Point-of-Work.

RIGHT FORMAT – Device/Network Compatible

The RIGHT FORMAT is influenced by a number of factors beyond which authoring tool to use. Does enough bandwidth exist to support video? Do remote knowledge workers have the right network access and signon privileges to reach the asset(s)? Is the FORMAT selected dynamic and responsive enough to serve in both formal learning venues as well as smart phones/tablets accessing performance support?

RIGHT TECHNOLOGY – Enterprise/Individual

RIGHT TECHNOLOGY has hooks into several of the RGIHT THINGS and must be considered before design decisions are made. At the enterprise level we are looking at the inventory of what systems are accessed to accomplish task level work. Do the knowledge workers have access? What personal technologies are used to access these systems. You can see where identifying these attributes impact FORMAT. As mentioned in RIGHT TIME, if contextual delivery of assets within the workflow and during a CRM call, for example, the RIGHT TECHNOLOGY may not be present…and offer an opportunity to integrate Digital Performance Support (DPS) technology to dramatically accelerate productivity. Once again, the PWA reveals if and where these opportunities exist.

RIGHT EVIDENCE – Impact, Utilization & Feedback

Intentional Design has a mission…to create solutions that deliver Impact at levels 3 & 4. This requires identification of metrics (KPIs) and measures that align with Point-of-Work where value is either created, compromised through deficient performance, or lost outright. You can see where Effectiveness and Relevance and Just Enough and Just in Time and Just for me, and the RIGHT TECHNOLOGY converge. While evidence of impact is important to show, there are a couple more items to seek. Engagement for one; are the asset(s) provided being used? By whom? How often? All of these are critical for identifying additional embedded learning at Moment 2 – MORE or refining what is taught at Moment 1 – NEW – or investigating why Moment 3 – APPLY is under-utilized. An active Feedback Loop is important to establish if none exists. How do knowledge workers communicate with asset owners if something is not clear, effective, or accurate? How are ideas for additional support communicated?

Closing Thoughts

 So…does Intentional Design threaten the ID role? Just the opposite – it expands the role into new asset development that can be re-used or re-purposed to decrease actual development time by following a Create Once – Use Many Times mindset. In some ways one could consider intentional design as replacement therapy…replacing long-form learning with short-form solution assets that can serve multiple roles both at Point-of-Work (Moments 3,4 & 5) and at Point-of-Entry (Moments 1 & 2).

7-RIGHT THINGS are core attributes to consider when building Performance Support, that is true, but I hope you can see how these same RIGHT THINGS help converge learning with workflows. I’m a big fan of reducing redundant work and these RIGHT THINGS provide a structure to leverage short-form assets and productivity acceleration technology.

Thanks for reading, and as always, if comments or ideas, please share. If questions or clarifications are needed, just ping me.

Take good care!


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