POINT-of-WORK:  A Ground Hog’s Perspective

By having a birthday on February 2nd one experiences a unique Ground Hog Day every year, and every year the same question surfaces, “Did you see your shadow today?” Not Punxsutawney Phil…me…did I see my shadow? I will say this about that…Stand down, pilgrims, let me put this all to rest. Here are the truths regarding the infamous conditions that foretell the remaining blight of winter:

  • See the shadow – only six more weeks of winter
  • Don’t see the shadow – only six more weeks of winter
  • You’re welcome…return to your homes…nothing more to see here in Punxsutawney

I know this for a fact because I have lived through seventy such annual investigations. The truth is so obvious, shadow or not, Spring is always six weeks away. What other truths are obvious and yet we still look for something else to change reality?

Here is another truth, the root of my perspective, with obviousness I hope to clarify. The Point-of-Work is never broken. What ho? How can that be?

Why would I say that? Because Point-of-Work is not work or a process. Point-of-Work is a Destination where task-centric and role-specific workflows exist. The brokenness is what happens at that destination, not the destination itself. In fact, most all workflows may represent a number of Points-of-Work…a number of sub-destinations…where actions and decisions to take action must happen effectively and efficiently to generate value in the form of measurable results. A destination cannot be viewed as broken…but the conditions at said destinations (Point(s)-of-Work) represent the collective attributes that enable or restrain performance outcomes.

Those collective attributes define what is going on at Point-of-Work – what is happening (or not) – not the various destinations of Point(s)-of-Work. In other words, Point(s)-of-Work must first be accepted as a precept in our brain that triggers critical discovery to identify the enabling or restraining attributes present. Those attributes are bundled in six categories:

  • Environment & Culture
  • People & Capability (where training and performance support are spawned by L&D)
  • Workflows & Processes
  • Content & Resources
  • Systems & Technology
  • Impact & Analytics

People & Capability are the primary targets where Moments of Need disciplines are essential to affect successful adoption of a Workflow Learning strategy. I totally buy into Bob Mosher’s discipline as the best design approach available today to enable Workflow Learning. My question is how do you optimize the other five categories where training and/or performance support will have little to no impact or relevance?

The answer is simply Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA) – a predesign discovery methodology that identifies potential Moments of Need and potential workflows where task analysis is warranted. The PWA goes further and identifies attributes that are NOT related to specific tasks or workflows. Attributes where a learning solution is NOT appropriate. Note that PWA is PRE-DESIGN DISCOVERY not a learning solution design.

The destination never changes but the attributes of conditions on the ground do…and are as dynamic as a solution design needs to be in order to meet the agility and responsiveness of performers in their workflows at their moments of need at any Point-of-Work encountered.

So…did I just debunk the Five Moments of Need? Absolutely not! I credit Bob Mosher for finally giving my performance consulting brain a powerful framework to build learning and performance solutions. I fully endorse The Moments of Need and see that methodology as foundational to designing and building Workflow Learning solutions.

My passion lies deeper in the holism of our Learning Performance Ecosystem where the dynamic attributes that restrain performance are not learning related. I confess that I am guilty of leading teams to build top-drawer learning solutions that should have been farmed out to Six Sigma to fix broken workflows first…or farmed out to Org Design resources to fix human role alignments first…or confronting a toxic culture promoted by leadership first…or abandoning misaligned analytics first. To ignore or overlook what else is behind deficient performance results is like letting a fat rodent impact the timing of Spring’s arrival.

Phil’s role is a myth. Training drives PERFORMANCE is a myth. Training promotes POTENTIAL is a truth. The ultimate truth – Performance does not happen until performers reach their Points-of-Work.

Freezing rain begins at 11PM then changes to eleven inches or so of snow. And no, I did not see my shadow…for whatever that is worth. I am, however, convinced there is ONLY six more weeks…long weeks…of winter left.

As always, I welcome any conversation and your comments!


Gary G. Wise

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