I read Gloria Gery’s Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS) in 1994. At the time, I was responsible for training development on a helicopter that the Canadian military had just purchased. EPSS became a key reference book for my approach to training design and the later creation of a specification for computer-based and web-based training. The focus of our team became much more one of performance versus training, and luckily I found that air crew were very open to the idea of performance support.
Jay Cross and Tony O’Driscoll have just written an excellent review on Gloria’s contribution to the work, learning, performance field. According to Jay:
The first time I heard Gloria speak, seven years ago, she provided the mantra of my efforts, “Training will either be strategic or it will be marginalized.”
In my experience as both an internal and an external consultant, I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Gloria Gery was ahead of her time, as there is still a shortage of good references on how to develop performance-centred workplace interventions. EPSS Revisited is a more recently published book on the subject but as I have noted there are few how-to resources on EPSS and fewer on workflow learning.
In the words of Gloria Gery:
Performance Support focuses on work itself while training focuses on the learning required to do the work. Integrating resources in the workplace is inevitable, and the need is urgent. Filtering resources so people get the tools and resources they need while actively working is the goal. Work process and roles are the primary filters. The mechanisms vary: portals, performance-centered workflow interfaces, enterprise applications, integration projects, etc, but what’s important is that performer be able to name that tune in one note, to perform in exemplary fashion.