POINT-of-WORK:  The Connected Worker and Analytics

When I first heard the phrase “Connected Worker” a question surfaced, “Connected to What?” The obvious answer was consistent to the latest innovation called Workflow Learning. If we need to connect workers to their workflows, the most appropriate connections would involve moments of need in the workflow at a number of worker discrete Points-of-Work. The words “worker discrete” are significant because that connection must be lock-step with task-centric and role-specific individual worker requirements. To me, that implies one-size-fits-all training solutions can only ever be a fraction of what is required to improve and sustain performance results at the Point-of-Work. But there is so much more to consider.

The opening paragraph begins to address the WHAT forms the basis of connection. The “so much more” highlights those things we cannot overlook including the WHY we need to enable connection; HOW we can facilitate connections; HOW & WHAT should be tracked to confirm degree of impact and optimization along with a few other critical questions that require full assessment and diligence before we ever begin designing a Connected Worker solution.

Here are a few questions we need to answer fully, and if the answers are not known, we need to perform assessments at Points-of-Work.

What do the workers need to be connected to in their workflows?

The simple answer, though not so simple to design, is whatever mix of resources are required to enable efficient, effective, and measurable performance in the workflow across a dynamic learning performance ecosystem. Too often the solution defaults to some variety of training plugged into the LMS rarely if ever accessed again and/or performance support job aids designed for access during the workflow. When considering the impact of Training versus Performance Support, the latter is likely to be more effective at producing measurable results at a moment of need in a workflow. Are we after workflow learning or workflow performance results? I submit the latter is what pays the bills.

Successful Connected Worker initiatives are at their core part of digital trnasformation. On February 3rd I attended a webinar “Human Learning at Work: Why Connected Worker Technology Alone Won’t Cut it” where a discussion inferred that the Conected Worker effort was only fractionally a training and technology effort. My take-away pointed to being better served treating this as a performance initiative. Again, there is so much more to consider if the solution design is to be as holistic, responsive, and agile as the ecosystem supported. The critical connections should be characterized by the following:

  • Effective and informed leadership and a culture of performance shared by all regardless of level
  • Training assets & Performance support accessible in the workflow at the moment of need
  • Access to intentionally designed content resources and information aligned with workflows
  • Human and system collaboration to enable moment of need support and dynamic knowledge sharing
  • Optimized workflows and processes
  • Corporate and individual systems and technologies that enable dynamic connectivity
  • Analytics aligned with performance details providing summaries and individual performance

All of these things listed above include attributes that have the potential to impact performance, and by not having each fully addressed leaves any solution designed to be less than optimal. What I am convinced is required is a Strategic Re-Think that Changes the Conversation PRIOR to making design decisions. See Figure 1 for a graphic that compares the traditional Training Needs Assessment with a Point-of-Work Assessment (PWA).

Figure 1

The PWA is a pre-design discovery methodology intended to inform a Changed Conversation and a performance road map to feed solution design thinking and delivery into the workflow.

How can we accomplish the connection to match moments of need in the workflow aligned with task-centric and role-specific Points-of-Work?

Another simple answer prompts us to put on a Performance Strategist/Consultant hat to define:

  • WHAT is broken? (Beyond deficient knowledge and skills…)
  • WHY is it broken? (a.k.a. Root Causes)
  • WHO (what roles) participate in the breakage? (From leaders to individual workers)
  • HOW do we know it is broken? (Current state benchmarks against stated performance goals)
  • HOW effective/accessible is current state technology? (From corporate to individual user)
  • WHAT metrics are tracked to confirm success, ongoing optimization, and sustainability?
  • WHAT new metrics should be tracked aligned with individual performance?

How do we identify individual worker proficiency?

Forget turning to training analytics to confirm performance impact. We can measure participant satisfaction (Level 1): and knowledge transfer during the event (Level 2): but rarely do we have visibility of metrics that can confirm the degree to which behavior changed at the Point-of-Work (Level 3), or more importantly a hard-dollar financial contribution to the organization’s bottom line (Level 4).

I believe that if we desire performance optimization it should be at the most granular level – the individual worker. Can the Training team accomplish this? I would wager their resources are spread so thin already developing training courses their engagement is not on the table. Too granular! Too dynamic! Too immediate! Too out of scope!

What I am describing is the most daunting task for us to pursue – Mass Personalization. By definition, Mass Personalization is the act of creating highly personalized digital experiences for specific audiences based on a set of criteria (Google) Digging deeper the terminology is rooted on marketing to align needs to product capabilities. So what does that have to do with the Connected Worker? For our Connected Worker purposes we need better access to data in workflows by workflow and by individual worker in the workflow. If this is not a digital transformation, I would be gob-smacked.

…highly personalized digital experiences for specific audiences

Are these not granular support resources designed for specific worker roles?
…based on a set of criteria

Are these not measurable performance expectations and actual results?

Concentrating on the set of criteria, we can see a need for performance success or failure at both the workflow/process level and the individual worker level. That dictates there are new analytics needed to gain this visibility. We not only need to know on an individual worker basis but need visibility of performance at task-level for evidence of success or failure if we hope to address Connected Work performance optimization.

Identifying what metrics to track at that level can come from a PWA. The challenge surfaces when we consider the volume of new data-points and how to track them in such a way as to extract meaningful and actionable interventions at an individual Connected Worker level. We are after Workforce Intelligence where we seek personal performance data that tracks not only performance results but personal skill growth, efficiency, and potential skill gaps within the workflow.

The magnitude of what a worker must do to be successful sets up a huge on-boarding challenge and an extended learning curve when our industries have neither to give with the Great Resignation. The urgency is upon us, and the solutions must converge with work to reduce on-boarding time by moving into the workflow and learning while doing.

Why not take the magnitude of task and role level support and enable Co-Botics, a term by Brent Kedzierski, CLO of HumanWRKS, where humans learn to work with/from machines in the workflow. I quote Russ Fadel, CEO and Co-Founder with Dave Landreth, Head of Customer Strategy of Augmentir in the webinar when they shared data confirming onboarding reductions by as much as 80% with a 21% boost in productivity. The secret sauce for me was the injection of artificial intelligence (AI) into the mix. I cannot fathom how to optimize the analytic tsunami we would unleash without AI to learn which Connected Workers are doing well; which ones are not…and WHY. Who among us in L&D would not want access to that level of targeted performance detail?

It is an exciting time to be in this business. Co-Botics? Who woulda thunk it? Well, somebody did, and I am guessing we have a whole lot of catching up to do if we want to avoid contributing to the metric of 85% digital transformations failing. We have a date with destiny to collaborate with systems and the critical analytics if we take the time to assess the workflows and processes at Point-of-Work on the front end.

Thanks for reading! As always, I welcome your sharing, comments, and questions as they surface.

Take good care!


Gary G. Wise

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

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