Gloria Gery on Performance

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.

One Response to “Gloria Gery on Performance”

  1. ray

    performance support Development Tools

    Tools are just now becoming available to make performance support for enterprise applications rather easy to develop.

    The driver is the need to achieve good ROI.  The barrier  being overcome is "user adoption" of those applications (such as CRM systems).

    What does “performance support” look like in this context? Well, it’s not context-sensitive help or popup Flash videos or popup text windows or any of the other things that require the worker interrupt a process to gather information and then transfer that information back to the work process. That’s just old “help” in new clothing and the information transfer is never wholly successful.


     This performance support is an intelligent layer that sits between the worker and the CRM application. It interactively guides the user through the successful completion of business processes in that new CRM application the first time that they see it (e.g. add an opportunity or produce a territory analysis).   Performance support catches their errors and enforces  business rules. Performance support makes workers successful immediately and success reinforces use. The “user adoption” barrier goes away.

    You can see some examples at


    BTW this product has wond the Perfomance Centered Design award for the last 2 years.



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