Moving from Knowledge in the Classroom to

What is performance support?
What is in the book?
Is performance support appropriate for my project?
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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 and work.

In our book, we define performance support as:

A 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 done.

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 ridiculous.

  • 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 course.

  • 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? Of course.

  • 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 so.

  • 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 so.

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.

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