The short answer is YES! Arriving at a destination has a connotation of finality or completion, but what happens when the characteristics of the “destination” are dynamic and influenced by continuous change? Welcome to the world of Learning & Development (L&D); a world where we struggle to optimize workforce performance outcomes with static solutions and technology in a Dynamic Learning Performance Ecosystem. We (L&D) see it. Our operational stakeholders see it…and are asking for different solutions that show measurable impact to the bottom-line. The question becomes one of are we “ready” to respond, or are we at a state of readiness to respond?
Optimizing our unique Ecosystems imply achieving Readiness to adopt and sustain our capabilities defined by the demands found at a dynamic, diverse, mass-up found only at the Point-of-Work. Ground zero for assessing the dynamics for our unique Ecosystems has exceeded the scope of Training Needs Assessment (TNA). The need to assess has both evolved and shifted downstream to a new destination characterized by the operational chaos and dynamics of the Point-of-Work. To reach and thrive at this new destination we need to consider an expanded Point-of-Work Discipline – PWD that adopts an assessment capability that is as dynamic as the environment it is intended to support – Point-of-Work Assessment – PWA.
At a high level, the PWA has four primary objectives to achieve sustainability in the Ecosystem:
- Change the Conversation – Shift our thinking, strategy, tactics, and technology…AND…that of our operational stakeholders beyond the limits of our current state Training Paradigm that is embedded with the promise that “Training Drives Performance!” Training alone does not, nor can it optimize performance…despite a delivering a stellar job of documentable POTENTIAL.
- Evolve Our Scope – If Training by itself can only enable Potential, our L&D mission and scope must evolve and extend downstream, post-training, to the Point-of-Work where Performance outcomes manifest…or not…and if not…find out WHY…and then identify what methods, measures and technology solutions address the ultimate mission of optimizing our dynamic learning performance ecosystems.
- Improve Our Readiness – “Readiness” is defined by consistent capability that enables and sustains a strategic shift in thinking and a different conversation about how the organization approaches optimizing productivity and overcoming performance challenges at Points-of-Work that lie beyond the limited scope of traditional training solutions and learning technology.
- Stop Being a Cost Center – If L&D does not evolve to include and assess the performance attributes exclusive to the Point-of-Work, we are ignoring the most critical Moments of Need that surface in workflows at Points-of-Work…AND…where evidence of impact at Levels 3 & 4 are realized. If we cannot show Evidence of Impact at Point-of-Work, we will always be exposed…and seen…and treated as a Cost Center.
PWD Is a Game Changing Top-Down Discipline Enabling Bottom-Up Solutions
Top-down can mean many things, but none so critical as top-down commitment to adopt a dynamic learning performance paradigm by senior leadership. For some organizations this may smack of transformational CHANGE, while in others a mere nudge and/or fine-tuning will facilitate adoption. The dynamics of high-level commitment and sponsorship must also reflect the dynamics of an ever-changing Ecosystem. My point is that if the PWD is not sponsored at the top, a likelihood of sustainability is at risk.
Interestingly, the PWA methodology also follows a top-down direction, but for different reasons. What that direction supports is consistency and alignment of discovery essential for building solutions that become fully defined at the bottom of the discovery stack; hence, bottom-up solution development.
The Point-of-Work Discipline, given its Ecosystem scope, implies Change Process versus Change Event. Processes take time. Events just happen. Consider these PWD Change variables:
- Strategic Re-Think – Changing thinking does not happen as an event with a compelling reason to do so. What better evidence to think differently than visible outcomes at levels 3 & 4? What better reason to develop the ability to identify and provide this evidence consistently?
- Change the Conversation – We (L&D) have done an outstanding job over the years of convincing our stakeholder population (and ourselves for that matter) that Training Drives Performance. We see evidence of that buy-in by being in the role of taking orders for training. We need through a strategic re-think for our stakeholders to make the call for us to partner with them and assess performance challenges for solutions that drive performance outcomes.
- Evolve Assessment Skills – The limits of traditional TNA methods are acceptable is static training solutions are the desired deliverable. The PWD uses a holistic PWA methodology that requires expanded skills capable of having business savvy and operational focused discovery conversations with stakeholders. Performance consulting capabilities are becoming more prevalent and necessary than ever before in the L&D tool kit.
- Intentional Design – While the PWD may reduce training delivery time, it by no means threatens the viability of traditional ID or Production resources. Solution content still needs designed, developed, and delivered but it is shaped by an intentionality to close performance gaps, reduce delay, and accelerate productivity at Moments of Need at the Point-of-Work.
- Technology Re-Think – Delivering solutions at Moments of Need within Points-of-Work that are both systems-based applications as well as workflows that are nonsystem-based, automatically imply we’ve just exceeded the scope of our LMS and/or LXP. Gartner group finally started to recognize a new technology cluster named Digital Adoption Solutions (DAS), visibility has finally shifted to include Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS/EPS), Digital Performance Support (DPS), Insight Curation Engines (ICE), and likely more to come.
It’s a Question of How to Define Readiness
With the advent of new thinking, conversations, assessment skills, design intentions, and technologies it is easy to see that the concept of reaching readiness is indeed a Change Process versus a Change Event. That said, the process of Change may well include a number if incremental Change Events; hence, the advice of “start small and scale”. Rushing out to buy new DAS technology can only lead to another love/hate relationship potential we’ve already endured with the LMS. None of us need that aggravation so why not assess the Point-of-Work through the lens of Technology Use Case definition? The PWA approach enables discovery of dynamic elements of the Ecosystem where a technology pilot can serve as a proof of concept before becoming proud owners of another potential boat anchor by being “ready” but not really being at a “state of readiness”.
The same concepts of readiness are pertinent to the other Change variables discussed above. Whether adopting the PWD or integrating new technology the advice remains the same – start small and scale. We seem to have mastered the first of four phases of Change – Deployment. We deploy new training. IT deploys new technology. What we seem to fail at regularly is the second phase – Implementation. Implementation happens at the new ground zero of Point-of-Work. That’s why the PWD is less deployment and event focused and more implementation and change insurance focused. And if we fail to implement, we fail to reach the third phase – Adoption. Adoption being that place where utilization has been accepted as best practice and regularly applied by the user population. The final phase is often overlooked – Sustainability. Have protocols been established and integrated to ensure Change Adoption is not just a temporary flash in the pan? Have we created flexibility and resilience into the Process of Change to endure the dynamics of Change?
While none of you really wanted a lesson on the four phases of integrating Change, I felt it important because the Point-of-Work Discipline is Change in every sense. It’s always tough to change thinking and move skeptics off long-held beliefs and embedded traditions. It’s tough to create the critical mass and momentum necessary to reach Change Adoption and Sustainability which leads me back to the advice of start small and scale. Integrating PWD is the project that never ends. As ominous as that sounds, PWD is a necessary evolution to enable our abilities to sustain effectiveness in our dynamic learning performance ecosystems.
Thanks for hanging in on this read. As always, I welcome thoughts, ideas, and comments as you are so moved.
Take good care!