Point-of-Work (PoW) is where measurable business outcomes are generated…or they’re lost…if not lost…compromised. – Gary Wise
Gary Wise has been a leading thinker in the Performance Support space for years. He’s been banging the drum for workforce capability and thinking in terms of point-of-work publically for almost 10 years. He was one of the key influencers in my instructional design career.
His recent posts have me thinking about projects and how they often stop short at value delivery.
Though there is significantly more discussion in the project management space around value and how projects are (or should be) designed to deliver business value, most projects in practice still focus on getting the deliverable out the door. Training, performance support, any change management, or discussion of how this impacts the organization’s customers are often considered at the last minute – if they are considered at all.
We got the thing out the door on time and on budget. Hooray!
Then no one uses it.
Or…worse…the successful project has a negative impact on the business.
We need to start looking further down-stream and longer term.
Here’s some ideas I’m kicking around right now – triggered from Gary’s recent post Adopting a Strategic Re-Think
He talks about this from a Learning and Development perspective, but I think he’s on to something broader.
Let me list my assumptions. These are some initial thoughts and I would love some feedback to let me know how far off the mark I am.
A project is an investment that will allow the organization to better serve its customers, either directly or indirectly. (I’m going to file any project triggered by changing compliance requirements as indirect service to customers – humor me here).
The interaction between the organization (often through its employees, with potentially a gatekeeper in between) and its customers is what I am going to call the Point of Value. The organization exists and thrives if it is able to provide value to its customers.
For an employee to better serve its customers, the organization is looking for what Gary calls Sustained Workforce Capability in the knowledge and skills needed to deliver customer value through the organization.
As Gary argues, training is one tool to drive Sustained Workforce Capability. It does so by reducing the time-to-competency for new knowledge and skills. However, training is NOT the ONLY tool that needs to be used. Appropriate longer-term supports and environments at the Point of Work for the employee are also necessary to embed these behaviors that will (ultimately) provide customer value.
Designing projects such that the “definition of done” for the project occurs at the point of usability and utilizes the appropriate metrics to determine the business impact of project deliverables.
You can’t design a project that ends at “we got the thing out the door.”
You can’t even design a project that ends at “we did training and went live.”
The project end is really when the longer-term supports are in place, the new system has stabilized, and you are starting to see the impact of your project deliverable on the business.
My experience has been to give it a good 2-3 months after “go live” to clean up any leftover business and allow the system to stabilize with no major configuration changes. From there, the business can see whether the project helped or hurt, issues that have surfaced with adoption, and what changes need to be made next to get closer to the vision.
Gary’s blog, Living in Learning, is an encyclopedia of useful ideas and tools for workforce performance and how workforce performance impacts the organization. It’s not just about “training.”