On shelves above employees’ desks,
in pockets and purses, on airplanes and on dashboard
displays, on walls next to equipment and chemicals,
in drawers beneath computer keyboards, on cell phones,
underneath and inside phones, via headphones, and even
on matchbook covers, performance support enriches life
In our book, we define performance support as:
helper in life and work, performance support is
a repository for information, processes, and perspectives
that inform and guide planning and action.
It is an information-rich resource that an engineer,
nurse, teacher, parent, mechanic, veteran, pilot, or
customer service representative relies on to get things
Performance support makes sense
Job aids, documentation, audio prompts, HELP systems,
GPS, software tools - performance support all - can
make a difference on topics from the sublime to the
- A gushing fire hydrant forces a change in path to
claim your family's pizza pie. The GPS in your car,
a dandy performance support tool, tailors its advice
to route you around the gusher. Do you want to know
these directions by heart? Of course not. You prefer
a friendly voice that knows where you and your car
are located and what you need to do to get the pie.
- Even though supervisors have been told how the software
installation is supposed to go, many forget and approach
it idiosyncratically. Could a tool prompt them through
the process and assess readiness to go forward? Of
- Sales people never have as much time as they need.
Before approaching a client, they are eager to know
that this client and organization are qualified and
which product line or service is most suitable. Would
a class be an appropriate way to help them with this?
Yes, in part. Could a tool make a difference here?
- There are numerous retirement seminars where people
gather with others to ponder readiness for retirement.
Would a tool that creates a recommendation based on
your age, your investments, and their projected performance
help you assess your readiness to retire? We think
- While classes are critical to soldiers, they absolutely
have to know what happened an hour ago on a corner
in Basra or Baghdad. Could a tool distribute what
they need to know when they need to know it? We hope
Are we forgetting training and development?
Not at all. In fact, in the book we focus on performance
support as a component of blended learning. In a study
of the way six organizations used performance support,
Allison Rossett and Paul McManus found that every engagement
involved performance support as part of a blend.
Most professionals are devoted to improving performance
and work. If training is essential, because employees
must know it by heart or not knowing threatens professional
standing, it should be a part of the solution. The point
is not to cast off training and development, or to advocate
for it, but to use it judiciously, appropriately, and
increasingly in concert with performance support.