In yesterday’s article, we discussed the first four steps required to transform an organization’s learning paradigm from training to performance (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Five steps to transitioning a training organization into a performance organization

In this spotlight, we will briefly outline a concept for the fifth step, a methodology for design and development of performance support as the norm, rather than as an afterthought. This methodology is one that the Fortune 100 training organization we referred to in yesterday’s article (The Group) has adopted. We recommend that readers of this article consider a similar approach to performance support design and development.

Establishing a standard performance support design and development methodology

After enabling both the performance support (PS) organization and extended stakeholders in the first four steps, The Group found it advantageous to establish a standard methodology for performance support design and development. Having a standard methodology drives consistency and rigor for projects while serving as a guide for the extended team to comprehend and anticipate the next phase of a project.

The Group explored, implemented and refined its methodology with each performance support project. As shown in Figure 2, in recent projects The Group has integrated the Nguyen & Woll (2006) model with Gottfredson & Mosher’s (2012) rapid task analysis approach. (See the References at the end of this article.) The Group has found that these two PS design models complemented each other very well in different stages of the PS design and development process.

Figure 2 is a schematic representation of the way The Group integrated these into a methodology. The Nguyen and Woll model (blue boxes, labelled “N&W”) provides high-level design, technical design, and system development of The Group’s PS projects. The Gottfredson & Mosher rapid task analysis approach (red boxes, labelled “G&M”) provides a framework for low-level performance support content structure, selection, and presentation design. Thus the complete methodology adopted by The Group comprises six stages in two paths.


Figure 2: PS design and development methodology

The process begins in Stage 1a (top-right corner of Figure 2), as the systems engineer and PS designer work together to determine the scope of the project, the type of PS solution, and the high-level design of the employee interface and technical architecture. The worksheets in Sidebar 1 are useful tools that guide key parts of their discussion. Phases 1 – 3 of the Nguyen & Woll PS model provide a robust framework for this activity.

The process flow then branches into two paths.

  • Path G&M (stages 1b, 2b, 3a) focuses on the design and development of content. This includes task analysis, content structure to content selection, and information mapping. Again, the Gottfredson and Mosher rapid task analysis methodology provides a robust framework for these activities.
  • Meanwhile, Path N&W (stages 2a, 3b) focuses on PS system development, integration, and implementation. Phases 4 – 5 of the Nguyen & Woll PS model provide a robust framework for this activity.

Path G&M provides the content of the performance support (text, graphics, or other media), while Path N&W guides the implementation, including integration with formal instruction, coordination with job and task design, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the project. In order to keep this discussion brief, we refer the reader to the references at the end of this article for details according to the reader’s needs.


To change from a training paradigm to a performance-centric paradigm involves a series of complex and coordinated efforts. The Group’s experience of this type of organizational transformation was conducted through the five steps illustrated in yesterday’s feature and this article. The Group’s experience demonstrates the importance of gaining support from senior business leaders through advocating on-the-job learning as superior to before-the-job training. Their experience has also demonstrated that building a dedicated performance support team and establishing a standard performance support methodology will accelerate the pace of change and ensure that it is sustainable and scalable across the enterprise. We recommend consideration and adoption or adaptation of their approach.

Sidebar 1: Worksheets for analysis and planning

Performance Support Planning Worksheets

In 150-200 words, please describe a business problem that you are attempting to address with performance support.

Worksheet 1: Learning & PS Planning

Worksheet 2: PS High-level Design

Worksheet 3: Performance Support Architecture


From the Editor

To go further in your exploration of performance support in the real-time workflow through structure, coaching, and documentation, join us at The eLearning Guild’s Performance Support Symposium, coming up June 10 – 12 in Austin, Texas! The Performance Support Symposium is the only conference dedicated to the topic of performance support and the goal of delivering small amounts of information directly into workflows when and where it is needed to enhance on-the-job performance.

When you register for Performance Support Symposium 2015, you will also receive admission to all sessions at mLearnCon 2015, co-located with the symposium. mLearnCon 2015 is North America’s leading mobile learning conference and expo, focused on applying mobile technologies in the context of learning and support, the strategies for integrating these technologies into the training mix, and the best practices for designing, developing, and delivering mobile content. 

Registration for Performance Support Symposium 2015 includes access to the mLearnCon 2015 Expo, an outstanding opportunity to explore a highly focused collection of key vendors offering leading learning technologies, tools, products, and services for mobile applications!


Gottfredson, C. and Bob Mosher. Rapid Task Analysis for Performance Support Design. 2012.

Nguyen, Frank, and Craig Woll. “A Practitioner’s Guide for Designing Performance Support Systems.” Performance Improvement, 45(9). 2006.

(A pre-print version is available at