Despite thirty plus years in the corporate learning space I am sensing an overwhelming demand to reiterate the critical nature of shifting emphasis to a post-training ground zero – Point-of-Work. If you’ve read any of my postings of the last several years on the blog at my website – Living in Learning – you will find evidence of cross-industry applicability to performance solution design concepts that front-end training development. I refer to the Point-of-Work Assessment Methodology as a pre-design discovery event. Why “pre-design”? As a performance consultant at the core, I am convinced that discovery of current state challenges covers a much wider spectrum than simply deficient knowledge and skills.
Seriously, if one does not have a firm grasp of the current state and WHY it is what it is, how can one reasonably expect to design a solution of any mix be it training, technology integration, social considerations and/or governance? I have recently been drawn to the manufacturing sector because a plethora of Points-of-Work and a multitude of workflows exist and breakdowns within those workflows…and…many are often well outside of training solutions as primary fixes. Thinking must change to discover root causes over and above deficient knowledge and skills as the primary cause.
The velocity of business demand and frequency of change have far surpassed Training’s ability to respond with the necessary agility and effectiveness to keep pace beyond the narrow scope of training and the “one-size-fits-all” nature of learning solutions. So what should we do? Move into the workflow and enable support to a new class of performer called the Connected Worker.
I have often written about “Training Drives Performance” as a myth creating a significant blind spot owned by many operational stakeholders. Why? Because that is what Learning & Development has been selling for years. They are conditioned to think “If we have a performance issue, call Training.” While training may be part of the solution, in reality, “Training Only Drives Potential.” I feel comfortable making this statement because the only documented analytics we can extract from Training events are at levels one and two (event satisfaction & knowledge transfer). Transferring knowledge at level two is great but within minutes of leaving the training environment, knowledge retention falls away quickly. There at no analytics of behavior change (level 3) or financial contribution of value (level 4) until the graduate has been hurled through window of opportunity and back into their respective job roles and many Points-of-Work…ground zero for the Connected Worker and ground zero for discovery of all performance restrainers.
That destination is the new ground zero (the new classroom) that demands our discovery attention to extract performance analytics both positive and negative tied directly to production and productivity from live workflows. These data serve as source components that are essential for solution design. From what I have read and experienced firsthand, enabling sustainable performance at the Point-of-Work not only boosts productivity and performance results but enriches job satisfaction and employee engagement. The Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) represents a top-down discovery where at the top we get a senior leader perspective of hypotheses and assumptions regarding issues and challenges that only become clear when we cascade down through layers of management to extract discovery…ultimately from the Connected Worker who lives at their Points-of-Work and experience firsthand what impedes performance.
Given what we see happening with the “Great Resignation” combined with the Pandemic, climate change and supply chain issues, what better time to address staffing challenges marked doing more with less. An interesting article posted by Diana Davis of the Industrial Transformation Network titled “The Disappearing Manufacturing Worker” – December 2021 describes an environment impacting the manufacturing sector especially hard. The convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) with operational and information technology enabling the Connected Worker in their workflows yielding successful execution at the task level. Equipping these workers at their Points-of-Work is a digital transformation journey that can only be conducted by considering task-centric workflows and role-specific requirements that will serve at two levels – Performance Results & Performance Analytics. To sustain solutions we need real-time visibility to both, and Training cannot and will not deliver those data points.
Since late last year, I’ve been blessed to speak with @Lawrence Whittle CEO of Parsable and @Russ Fadel Co-Founder and CEO of Augmentir, both pioneering capabilities with innovative technology solutions for the Connected Worker in the manufacturing space. Another company Real Wear brings more complimentary technology into the mix to support Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to support Connected Workers in their workflows. Additionally, Augmentir integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable real-time data-driven visibility to both performance results and employee productivity by the individual employee. So what has me so excited? The deliverables come from a data-rich environment that enables fine-tuning of performance support resources, real-time collaboration, and workflow learning dynamically using the Connected Worker as the trigger source.
What an impressive and formidable opportunity to address any workflow-rich operational environment by using the reality of Points-of-Work that training solutions alone cannot address. What I find most exciting is the emphasis placed on the Connected Worker as the key source of performance data and the ever-present challenges that impede performance from sustained optimization. To facilitate the Connected Worker discovery to its best advantage implies we have the skills to carry out discovery to change the upstream conversation from kneejerk training as the solution to something as agile and responsive as the workflows where it is applied.
It is good to be back in the flow finally. Best wishes to all for a productive 2022!