Visible means of support

Well, this is timely.

Don Clark recently posted a link to an online performance support guide by Allison Rossett and Lisa Schafer. The guide helps you decide whether performance support is right for your project. It appears on a site promoting their new book, Job Aids and Performance Support.

I like the subtitle: Moving from Knowledge in the Classroom to Knowledge Everywhere. And I like the guide because I’m gathering resources for an informal “people professionals mixer” later this week.

Here’s how they define performance support:

A helper in life and work, performance support is a repository for information, processes, and perspectives that inform and guide planning and action.

Joe Harless, who coined the term front-end analysis, described a job aid as something you use on the job that tells you what to do and when to do it, reducing the need for memorization. He asked me what I thought an electronic performance support system was (back when EPSS was a hot piece of jargon). I said, “A job aid with chips.”

Tools like quick-reference cheat sheets and software wizards and GPS devices in cars guide performance. They help people accomplish things faster, easier, more accurately than the could otherwise. And they’re essential to the world of work.

Organizations squander enormous time and resources trying to get people to “learn” (usually meaning “memorize”) knowledge that they could more effectively access and employ through performance support.

I have Rossett’s books on training needs analysis, job aids, and performance analysis. (Find the titles under “publications” on her site.) She’s straighforward, readable, informed, and pragmatic. Her wide experience with clients and collaborators doesn’t hurt, either.

Looks like I’ll be adding to my collection.