Just Start Already…Using the Tools You Have

This blog is excerpted from episode 36 of the Performance Matters Podcast where Bob Mosher and Sue Reber, APPLY’s director of practice, discuss how to get started on building workflow learning using the tools you currently have—no new purchases necessary.

Bob Mosher (BM): I am honored today to be joined by one of my dear colleagues in this journey, a rock star in my opinion, Sue Reber. Sue—welcome, good to have you here.

So, Sue you’re a seasoned instructional designer (ID). When we talk about shifting to a performance-first mindset, what do you think are the common switches they are having challenges to flip?

Sue Reber (SR): It’s a misunderstanding of what performance is and looking at it from the feeling like you can get to performance from knowledge alone.

BM: I love that! You know it’s funny, I was having a conversation with an organization that we are working with, and they mentioned, as I was going through this, “Wait, wait. We can’t do this because we have so much they need to know before they can do.”

Isn’t that amazing? And I said, “What do you mean?” And they said, “Oh, my gosh! There’s just so much our subject matter experts feel that these learners have to know before we dare let them touch or do anything.” So they have this—listen to this—three- to five-day “knowledge” course. They spend three to five days covering SOPs and processes and legalities and all these things.

Why do we come at it from this “know first” thing? Why don’t we get that that’s meaningless without context?

SR: Yep. This the most common thing I hear; I think people are afraid. They feel they are providing the context. They think, “If I give you all of this knowledge, then I’m providing you with the context for you to be able to do the job.” That’s what I see.

BM: That’s really a remarkable insight. Because to us, context is the workflow. They are equating context to knowledge alone, without that context of the workflow.

SR: Yep!

BM: You and I are both in agreement, if I am going to build eLearning, I need an eLearning authoring environment. I’m not going to build eLearning with PowerPoint.  

SR: Yep!

Bob: But, for an EPSS—organizations have the capability to build and implement an EPSS within their organization right now, with almost any tool. Right?

SR: Right. I think that if you flip that switch and think about what is it that people need to do, and really break it down into job tasks, you can build and implement that EPSS capability into anything. You can build it in Word. You can build it in SharePoint. We’ve built it in tons of different things.

BM: But how do I make sure that I make those things do what an EPSS can do?

SR: That’s all about the design. Right? The design is critical and you have to think it through—especially if you are not going to use a traditional EPSS software. You need to really think about what is it that people need to be able to do, how do they need to be able to get to it—to what they need to do—and how can you make sure that they only have what they need and they are not buried in details that they don’t need—but that they can get to those details.

BM: So, it’s principle-based. We have to understand those principles to have these tools do what they do.

SR: Yes, I think so.

BM: So, how does an organization evolve their way to a fully functional EPSS technology framework? If I’m the leader, what’s my plan in getting there, knowing that’s the end game but that I may have to take some baby steps to get there?

SR: I think you have to start where you are. And pretty much, it’s that way with everything, right? What can I do with what I have? You need to really dig into what is an EPSS, what do I mean by that, what can it do, how can it help me? You really need to understand what the principles are behind performance support.

Then, once you really have that down, and that really does take some research and thinking through things. Maybe you’re going to take a look at your existing programs and instead of looking at the training and thinking in terms of training, you’re going to look at what do people need to be able to do. And you’re going to maybe pick some small, little piece of that and you’re going to develop a proof of concept using the software that you have, whatever it is, whether it’s SharePoint or Microsoft Word, or it’s PowerPoint—which I wouldn’t recommend—Confluence, Microsoft Teams, SmartSheets, pretty much whatever you have—figure out how you can best use it. You, however, need to understand that there are limitations because you are not using performance support software.

You are then going to use that proof of concept and share it. I would share it with the people doing the work. See what they think about it. And that’s going to help you make your business case. And then once you have your business case, maybe you’ll be able to build out the rest of the performance support. And implement it. And gather the data like how is it affecting how we do the work. And then you can begin to scale it.

BM: Brilliant!

Listen to the full episode to hear more on Sue’s best practices and experiences around using what organization’s have on-hand to build impactful performance-first solutions. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Performance Matters Podcast to stay up-to-date on all the latest conversations and guests in The 5 Moments space.


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