The Man in the Mirror is a Boy, and Other Untruths

When you look in the mirror, do you still see that youthful kid you were in high school? I know we do! There aren’t any wrinkles or gray hair. Just that happy kid staring back at us. Now, if we asked a friend to describe us, I think they would do so very differently and probably more accurately.

As with many things, including our performance support systems, we are not always good at self-evaluations. We look through our own filters and see only what we know (or sometimes want) to see. When we do that, we prevent ourselves from facing the truth and it stunts our ability to grow. We have seen the struggle to honestly evaluate electronic performance support solutions (EPSS) in a variety of organizations which is why we spent some time this month on the topic.

We want you to be able to clearly see and evaluate your performance support system to really understand where you are so you can better plan where you need to go and how you’ll get there. We see that companies that outperform in performance support are those who can evaluate themselves truthfully and openly.

Let’s take a quick moment to define EPSS again. Gloria Geary was first to really do so more than 20 years ago. Her definition reads:

An orchestrated set of technology-enables services that provide on-demand access to integrated information, guidance, advice, assistance, training, and tools to enable high-level job performance with a minimum of support from other people.

After all this time, as a community, we’re still trying to approximate something close to this. Yes, we have systems that may fall loosely in the EPSS category. Here’s how we would classify them. Document management systems support knowledge management by addressing the ‘moment of solve’ with rich content. Learning management systems support training by addressing the ‘moments of new and more’ through course and learner management.

Performance support sits at the crossroads of knowledge management and training, so it’s easy to say that it leverages the best of both of these systems. It is best served through a true EPSS where it is contextual, just enough, and is accessible in two clicks and/or 10 seconds. So, as we’re looking at what we have and what we are doing, we need to keep in mind that although the path of knowledge management and/or training can lead to performance support, neither one in isolation is performance support. We went into this in much more detail in our last webinar, “How are you doing? A Performance Support Evaluation.”

Now you’re probably asking, “What should we evaluate and how?” It’s a great question as we are still young in this industry and are still defining the criteria. We hear you that it’s difficult to do without a framework that helps you evaluate more objectively. So, what we’ve done is we’ve created a quick 3-question evaluation questionnaire that will give you a score along the Performance Support Spectrum. You can access it here: 3-Question PS Self-Evaluation Survey

How did you do?

The survey is a great place to start, but even more exciting is the tool we will be launching in July! We will have an online evaluation tool that is much more robust and dives deeper into the various criteria in the PS spectrum. This tool will give you a framework in which you can evaluate not only your system design, but your cultural readiness. Be sure to get others in your organization to use the tool too and then draw on the combined results as a way to start the discussion on where you really are and where you need to go.

Today, even though we still look in the mirror and see the boy, we’re aware that there is really a man staring back at us. Awareness is the first step in your honest evaluation. After that, we need to work together as a community to continue to bring an understanding and consistency to this thing we call performance support. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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