Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bob Mosher: Performance Support and Learning at the Moment of Need #ls2010

My live blogged notes from eLearning Foundations Intensive with Bob Mosher.  Here’s a picture!

J.I.T. = “just in time” – the acronym was born in 1992. 

What does this mean to the learner? they expect it, informal, interruption, necessary

eLearning invented J.I.T.  We equated availability with relevance. “Anytime, anywhere”.  But J.I.T. doesn’t equate with relevance, because it’s often not targeted. 

Once eLearning came along, learners starting asking for help!  Contextual learning.

The promise of JIT and the reality as it played out in the 90s.

So welcome to performance support.  To support, not teach.

Today’s session:

  • Fundamental principles and practices of performer support
  • Help you begin the journey of applying them.
  • Get you ready to apply a holistic learning ecosystem at your own org.

What is a holistic learning ecosystem?

A spectrum, spans the organization, connective (not just a vertical job).  The help desk is part of that ecosystem. 

If you’re in the learning business, you should be talking to your help desk people every week!  They’re living what you did to people!

After a “course” – don’t ask “did you learn?” Instead ask the help desk people – they’ll tell you how well the spreadsheet course went.

Managers of the learners – part of your ecosystem. He sites a study: the # variable for effectiveness in training is manager impact.

“You learning people care way too much about training.” – we’re focused on the process and not the results.  We should be more caught up in what they DO once they leave your training program.  I don’t care what they memorized or how they did on exam.  Are they a better worker?

Informal Learning “What’s in a name?”

Don’t use the name.  Jay Cross wrote a great book on it.  Informal sounds optional. 

Allison Rossett – Job Aids & Performance Support.  She says “call it performance support and not informal, cuz you can’t get a CFO to pay for informal learning.” 

What learners want with Performance Support – “give me the answer!”  At a problematic moment of need, you want the answer.  And they want it on their demandEasy to find and contextual.  Don’t want to have to leave and go out to their LMS and login….this makes you leave the instance.

As designers, you’re supposed to design for two moments:

  • Mastery “I get it!”
  • Competency “I can do it!”  the application of knowing.

Training Event – an intentional time out.  To get to mastery.

Competency – on the job – the “transfer environment.  By the time you get to lunch, your training session is a distant memory.  This is where performance support comes in.  It’s a competency model.  Goal is application, not mastery!

Disconnect between Mastery and Competency in many orgs in both design and measurement. 

Measuring it.  ROI.

Training is often held accountable for things it shouldn’t…

Fair measurements of mastery:

  • knowledge gain
  • demonstrable skills
  • certification
  • compliance

Competency (Performance Support) tied to:

  • productivity gain
  • transferred skills – completion of job tasks
  • time to proficiency
  • lower support costs
  • increased user adoption
  • optimized business processes
  • customer/loyalty/morale/retention

That whole list is a holistic performance ecosystem.

Is mastery becoming less relevant?

Things change so fast!

The Five Moments of Need:

  • When learning for the first time
  • When wanting to learn more

(a lot of formal instruction/elearning is about these two things – the wonderful architected thing!)

  • When trying to remember and/or apply
  • when things change
  • when something goes wrong

These last 3 are performance support.  within the context of the problem, it’s no longer about the training binder (it’s more about the yellow sticky note!)

Link effectiveness to context.

What are performance support tools being used to support the final 3 moments of need:

  • searchable docs
  • wikis
  • help desk
  • The guy next to us -- (“we are instinctively beggars by design” – we ask the guy next to us, but he is an FTE…may not know…but we’re not teaching independence.  We need to be more agile!  Inefficient.  The average length of help desk calls are 20 minutes.)

Bob’s list of favorites:

  • Job aids
  • CoPs (wikis, blogs, forums)
  • learning portal
  • reference materials….
  • FAQs
  • Help Desk
  • SIMS
  • Pod casts
  • coaching
  • ereference
  • webinars
  • recorded webinars
  • instant messaging.

The problem is: this list terrifies the person who just wants to know how to change the margins in the document.  There’s no architecture!

We’ve got assets, but we’re not architecting these in such a way to make them consumeable.


From Allison’s book: there’s before, during, and after the moment of need. 

Planners (before) – reference guides, CoPs (wikis, blogs), e-learning

Sidekicks (during – in the moment of the problem) – job aids, context sensitive help, faq’s, coach/mentor, helpdesk, CoP’s (twitter)

QuickChecks (after – to get better) – checklists, assessment tools, feedback loop


Environments that help make performance support more consumeable.  The LMS of performance support.

Training (first 2 moments of need) TEACH: Training objectives, conceptual practice, deeper detail, steps – take them to the moment of need. 

But when we transition to the moment of need – you can’t replicate that design.  You don’t want the objectives!  You just want the steps.  not the voiceover or the pictures.  You want the checklist at the moment of need.

If the steps are not enough, go to deeper details, if that’s not enough then go to practice/demos, if that’s not enough go to other resources (elearning). 

Brokers are architecting this journey from simple to broad and based on context.

Apply (I can’t remember – I need guidance going in), Change (the rules changed), Solve (I can’t figure it out, I’m stuck)– you need sidekicks, planners, quick checks for all three situations…

Examples: Mobile Performance Support tool – on your phone – sales guys learning about new line of chairs before march in to a sales call -- they are about to apply this information.  This is Planner/Apply.

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