Confessions of a Performance Ninja – New Book Coming

Point-of-Work Dynamics


There is a prevailing myth that “TRAINING DRIVES PERFORMANCE,” which represents a false narrative that limits effectiveness when we depend on training for default solutions. The myth prevails because we in Learning & Development (L&D) have done an outstanding job of setting false expectations for our operational stakeholders that all performance issues default to training as the standard solution. They bought it, and sadly, so did we. In reality, Training only contributes to POTENTIAL. Why? Because performance does not happen until our workers return to their respective Workflows. Last I heard, potential does not pay the rent, nor does it deliver the mail.

Before we take a routine training request from a stakeholder and dive in to build any Training solution, we should dispel the myth, which leads to a change in thinking, which leads to a change in behavior and tactics.  What can we do about dispelling the myth? Three things:

  1. Offer compelling proof that a change in tactics is essential and urgent for business sustainability
  2. Change the conversation that is compelling enough to promote a strategic re-think
  3. Embrace tactics to integrate an assessment of crucial Points-of-Work within Workflows to enable prioritized solution design. (Notice I did not say Training solution design…)

 This book is about why and how to do those three things successfully. This book is not an instructional design guide per se but speaks to a broader spectrum of what stuffing the design function should consider beyond simply grinding out a training solution. I must quickly add that determining those things that restrain performance at Points-of-Work that have nothing to do with training should be identified and communicated to the appropriate business function that cares…like HR, Marketing, Operations, or [insert affected business function here.]

After 35+ years in L&D, my core competency, regardless of formal leadership role or job title, is performance consulting. Defining WHAT is restraining performance and WHY is the main emphasis behind my discipline and the impetus for writing this book. Currently, I am failing at accepting retirement. I am largely unsupervised with enough time to share a concept and proven tactics to implement POINT-of-WORK ASSESSMENTS (PWA) successfully. The PWA is a tool I use religiously to dispel the myth and consistently support the three things listed above.

I intend to keep this book short and actionable. I cannot brag about a long list of clients because my work has been concentrated in-house for the companies I’ve been fortunate enough to work for, like AT&T, Sprint, Winstar Communications, Roche Diagnostics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Xerox, Macy’s, and my own consultancy to fill in the gaps after three downsizing in seven years. I shared those companies because they span multiple business disciplines, which matters because the PWA methodology described in this book is portable across disciplines. For that matter, the skill set of performance consulting is equally portable. More on that later.

I plan to share worksheets and templates related to the PWA showing examples for actionable “How To.” As a storyteller, the opening chapter starts with a backstory of where the PWA came from and my reliance on being a performance consultant, first and foremost, regardless of job assignment. Some might call that a curse; for me, it was a blessing that made me portable across numerous business disciplines.

It is essential to remember that adopting a Point-of-Work methodology represents CHANGE, and as we all know, implementing Change is a lot like pushing a stone uphill. My advice, keep your methods to yourself and GO FOR IT. Just “doing it” means you might need to go covert with the finer points. Is it a lie to say that a PWA is just part of training? Answer: It’s Training, and our job requires we hide the pill in the cheese. To stay under the radar for the non-believer, you may need a pair of black pajamas for the period of time you need to go NINJA.

I welcome conversations with any of my readers as the need arises. Dig in and enjoy the ways of a Performance Ninja.

Gary G. Wise
Performance Advocate – Writer of Things – Business Advisor/Coach 
(317) 437-2555
Web:  Living In Learning


For my LinkedIn family and blog followers, I would love to have you with me on this journey to offer feedback on short pieces of what I write. This short piece today is the first draft of a Foreword. In return, I will provide a copy of the book at no charge when I cross the finish line. Drop me a comment with your email addy, and I will build a list of 50 travel companions.

Thank you in advance for your participation!