I was sitting in a conference session several years ago on something called “performance support” (PS). Quite frankly, I was there just because there was nothing else in that time slot that I wanted to hear and this room was close to the next session. As I walked into the room, I was thinking, “We already do this. We give out pocket cards after some classes for on-the-job help, and there are signs on the walls about upcoming changes…”
Then I sat down, was introduced to Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson, and about halfway through the session my world started spiraling. I realized my pocket cards and signs were only pieces of sand in the universe of what they were describing as “performance support.” I now understood that PS is an overarching principle that should be used as a framework to plan all learning, from before the learner walks into the classroom clear through to on-the-job performance.
My original agenda was tossed aside, and I went to every other session they were presenting at the conference to get my head wrapped around this new concept. When I returned home, I had a vision of what this new world of performance learning based on the PS paradigm might look like. Trying to implement it was another matter. I was an ADDIE expert. My first leap of faith in the PS journey was throwing ADDIE out the window. Now people had an education request and I was not starting by writing objectives and planning a class, I was starting at the moment of apply. What did the worker need to do (or stop doing) to complete the task successfully? Job task analysis and critical skills analysis were not skills in my instructional design tool belt. Designing and building an embedded PS system and planning a learning event that allowed learners to perform the job were new concepts. Finding sources to learn this was a struggle. A lot of it was just trial and error.
We have been on this PS journey for about six years now and we’ve had tremendous success with PS and learning in the workflow, but I can say, without a doubt, the hardest part was getting started. Since this was a whole new paradigm for our L&D staff, we needed to learn a whole new set of skills and processes. If you’ve ever tried to totally change an old, very well developed habit, you know this wasn’t easy. Not only did we need to go through the process of letting go of the old, there was the need to search for the new. Until Innovative Performance Support (Gottfredson & Mosher, 2011) was published, we had to search older references to extrapolate concepts and call for help from others who had proceeded us.
We learned a lot in this process. I believe the biggest responsibility for those of us who have been pioneers on the PS journey is to set the road map for those just starting and find ways to let others know how to find it. I am happy to report that although totally changing a path is still not a walk in the park, now there are some established practices for starting a PS journey. Information isn’t held in the minds of few people anymore. The eLearning Guild and the Performance Support Community are easily accessible groups that have assisted people to get started. Plan ahead. Start filling those ID tool belts with new skill sets. I’m a big fan of CBS’ NCIS, and to quote Gibbs’ Rule 28: “If you need help, just ask.”
Take a deeper dive with Molly on this topic at her workshop with Jill Wiley, Developing a Micro-performance Support Solution, at FocusOn Learning 2016 Conference & Expo on Tuesday, June 7, in Austin, Texas. Click here to learn more!