Choosing the title of this blog was a tad challenging since I am in fact a huge supporter of performance centric solutions in business. Whats getting to me is the idea of “performance support” being something we (as in employees, L&D managers, CEO’s) can choose to implement or not. If you think it is, then I disagree with you. I think if you are part of a business whether you run it, or just work in it, the function of every department, every strategic business unit, every person is part of organizational performance support. What every business cares about, is the performance of the business. Every decision made within a business is all about performance support. Marketing is performance support. Sales is performance support. You get it? So when L&D talks about performance support, its this strange arrogance maybe stemming from our unenviable position of impotence that we believe it were some novel strategy that WE can implement.
This all about perspective (reality tunnels via Robert Anton Wilson). The default human perspective on things starts with the ‘me’ as the starting point. This is only natural since our senses were built to move outwards from ourselves as the center. However, we can move beyond this traditional human perspective through thought and emotional intelligence. So when we (L&D people) talk about ‘performance support’ we talk about it from the ‘me’ perspective looking out which is why an otherwise very intelligent man would say “It’s time to make it a central part of our workplace learning strategy. No, better yet, it’s time to make it a central part of our business strategy.”
Sorry but…Make ‘performance support part of our workplace learning strategy’? You do realize that workplace learning is actually part of a ‘performance support strategy’ if your looking at it from the organizational POV. In other words, workplace learning coming at it from the organization inwards fits into a performance support strategy as does everything.
“it’s time to make it a central part of our business strategy.” – To begin with, I laugh at the thought of L&D people making business strategy decisions outside of L&D. Secondly, performance support has long ago been a formal strategic business unit of organizations called ‘operations’.
Now the problem you see, is this isn’t a mere obfuscation of the words ‘performance support’. The rhetoric we hear nowadays about performance support is a great example of why L&D is so innocuous. Its an example of myopia mixed with arrogance. Myopia because we always look at things strictly from the perspective of ‘me’ outwards and arrogance because we are always building our own infrastructures separate from what already exists within organizations.
Part of the solution is to begin supporting the organization using the organization as the central POV and work your way inwards from there. Resolve ‘organizational performance problems’ along with the rest of the organization. Organizations solve performance problems using new policies, buying new equipment, hiring different people, cutting resources, etc. These decisions are in theory (definitely not in practice) made through careful analysis of a variety of factors, most importantly being ‘Is the business making money’. If your going to try ‘implementing’ performance support from a ‘me’ POV then your simply going to be deprioritized. However if you work in concert with existing infrastructures for resolving organizational performance issues, your now working as part of the network.
In summary, we need to stop looking at performance support as a separate strategy that WE can choose to implement or not, since the fabric of every organization is in fact composed of a network of units purposefully built to support organizational performance. If your doing something other than trying to support ‘organizational performance’ then your probably better off in Academia (which has its own issues). Given that the fabric of every organization is in fact fortified through the goal of organizational performance, our purpose is to support that fabric. Creating our own infrastructures and defining ‘performance support’ as a subset of a workplace learning strategy is simply wrong.