Over the last several years, I have written about the concept of convergence; specifically, convergence of learning with work. Emphasis was placed on assets Learning & Development (L&D) produced to enable performance support closer to actual work. Workflow Learning is the more current manifestation of convergence and is a new rallying point for L&D. My fear is that there is potential that L&D may be saddled with a blind spot that will not fully optimize solutions integrating newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) directly into workflows. Does this negate the viability of Workflow Learning? Absolutely not. In my opinion, it postures an additional critical outcome beyond training that expands our headset and our scope – Workflow Performance.
Workflow Learning is still essential, but fully optimizing the power of data-driven performance metrics using AI can support more than the convergence of learning with work. My position remains that “learning” regardless of when or where or how it takes place is not the end game. Ultimately, we seek consistent delivery of measurable, performance outcomes. Having been in L&D for over 30 years, it almost pains me to say that Workflow Learning is only a desirable by-product of sustainable Workflow Performance.
Why do I tightrope on such a blasphemous statement? Learning is essential, as I said, regardless of when of where or how it happens. The question that drives my madness is simply this… “What if learning, or lack thereof, is not the root cause of the identified deficient performance?”
- What if the cause is a Leadership shortfall or Organizational Development role(s) misalignment?
- What if it is excessive employee turnover and “Great Resignation” exodus of intellectual property, experience, and expertise?
- What if it is an absence of cross-team collaboration capability and restricted knowledge sharing?
- What if it is one or more broken processes or workflows?
- What if it is limited or restricted access to essential information and resources needed just-in-time and within workflows?
- What if it is suboptimal utilization of existing and/or innovative technology by an overwhelmed user population?
- What if the wrong metrics are tracked and data-driven decision-making is compromised?
I would not consider this an exhaustive list of “What ifs,” but it does highlight there is a much greater chance that defaulting to a learning solution without accomplishing pre-solution design discovery leaves too much to risk. What else besides learning needs to be converged into the workflow? Methinks that is what we must discover and a Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) is a pre-design discipline/methodology enabling discovery of the dynamics restraining performance across the ecosystem.
The ability to complete a PWA requires a basic skill set found in performance consultants and/or Business Matter Experts (BMEs) possessing business and operational savvy. Could this be a role in L&D? I believe it could be as long as the scope of PWA discovery is not limited to building training solutions. In a perfect world, I would love to find roles dedicated to PWA activities that liaison with operational stakeholders and the L&D factory… and HR OD…and IT…and Content Owners…Analytics leads…and…and…
The PWA does not compete or conflict with existing design methodologies like 5-Moments of Need; in fact, PWA, as a predesign discovery discipline/methodology, can optimize what 5-Moments can deliver as solutions for delivery across training with performance assets in support of Workflow Learning. My position remains that our ultimate objectives are hard-wired to sustainable, measurable outcomes that ONLY manifest at various Points-of-Work.
For example, new AI-driven technology like Augmentir changes the game by converging performance assets into workflows. Could some of the assets be training-related? Absolutely! Additionally, other non-training support assets can converge into workflows real-time as well. The dynamics of our respective ecosystems are demanding a degree of agility that far exceeds learning by itself. Workflows are where measurable outcomes are produced…and if learning takes place during work…I am cool with that. Maybe it is my curse of being a performance consultant at the core, so I will continue to insist the end game is sustaining measurable performance at the Point-of-Work.