Has performance support come of age?by
Simon Meager surveys the changing world of just-in-time learning and performance support.
The big question on everyone’s lips is: what can we expect workplace learning technologies to look like in 2013? The answer is a performance support solution. While this might not be a new answer (but rather an old answer marrying together a new technology with a new approach to business) the argument for performance support is stronger than ever.
As the line between work and learning is quickly disappearing, which for many is a good thing, organisations are now looking for improved performance to be a function of better work processes, tools, and resources. Couple this desire for ongoing performance improvement with the focus on mobility, and the need for workers to have the support they need anytime and anywhere, and the answer undoubtedly lies with performance support.
At last we have recognised the social nature of work, and we now use technology to share content and connect people with expertise; be it in the form of explicit content in an app-based resource, or via peers and experts at the other end of a communications network. The reason for this is because the requirement for a formal learning environment has changed. We understand clearly, now more than ever, that we do not have the time or resources to restrict learning and development to a classroom-based environment. With a greater demand for immediacy, workers are increasingly pursuing knowledge and skills in their own way, at their own pace, and in an informal manner. We have seen that individual employees are investing significantly in their own personal development and performance improvement; an attitude that has developed within a generation who have been conditioned to continue learning, even once they leave formal education and join the workplace.
"Performance support has a real role to play in the world of business and in turn the world of learning...to improve productivity, accomplishment, and satisfaction, in the most cost-effective way possible."
Today, after a few false starts with elearning, we now have the technology to create the right software to meet this demand. With the advent of the smartphone and the tablet - technology we store in our own back pocket or briefcase - we really can have good quality information available at our fingertips all delivered via the app. The reason why apps are so effective is because they take the complex and make it simple, the lengthy and make it brief, the disjointed and make it systematic, and make it available to all. It really couldn’t be simpler than that.
This has meant that the relationship between learning and work has changed as learning has moved on to embrace new advances in technology. The current economic realities have helped increase the pace of this change as businesses strive for the 'edge', and this drive has made a compelling case for this new approach. Performance support has a real role to play in the world of business and in turn the world of learning. It isn’t just about a new job aid or app that helps us do our jobs better or smarter, nor an automated work process, nor an intranet that has all the answers at the click of a mouse; it’s all of these and more, bundled together to improve productivity, accomplishment, and satisfaction, in the most cost-effective way possible.
Performance support is already a part of everyday life, be it a demo on YouTube on how to put your IKEA wardrobe together, be it the apps on our phones telling us the correct tyre pressures for our car, or the SatNavs that guide us to our next meeting. Performance support is a growing part of life and work and it will help us meet our business goals, because it can solve real business problems, and improve demonstrably staff performance and in turn business performance.
Training and elearning have to now embrace performance support as a valid component of any business improvement program. As the link between solving business problems and learning has become increasingly important, performance support has a real and valid place. To many business owners and their staff a performance support solution is what they are looking for.