THE QUOTE: “Design and develop performance support solutions with a focus on context, not content.

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Design and develop performance support solutions with a focus on context, not content.” – Jeremy Smith

You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it.” – Seymour Papert


In today’s business environments where:

  • ‘Learning at the speed of need’ is the most crucial factor for success
  • Learning is largely informal (on-the-job), a little social (peer), and least formal (training programs and courses)

…business problems are more complex and hence demand quicker, effortless, and effective performance support solutions than ever before. In this context, one of the ideal solutions would be on-the-job support that makes itself available at the precise point-of-need (while performing specific tasks) in place of the traditional approaches of trainings delivered away from employees’ work environments.

Enter ‘Embedded Performance Support’ — performance support that is embedded in the business process (and hence the workflow of the employees) that helps make support more efficient and effective. Embedded Performance Support is one of the increasingly relevant disciplines of performance support, and hence one of the most significant topics of discussions in the L&D world today! Unlike its traditional counterpart (Standalone Performance Support), Embedded Performance Support Solutions (EPSS) help eliminate the need for training in most situations, and in a few other situations, support traditional training. With today’s powerful emerging technologies, embedding simple, cost-effective, and effective performance support solutions in the workflow of employees is a matter of thinking innovatively.

We, at Learnnovators, have always been fascinated by the power that EPSS can offer. Making this an integral part of our research activities, we have been doodling about leveraging the possibilities for developing powerful but cost effective embedded performance support solutions for ourselves, our clients, and partners.

Below are a few performance support solutions that we’ve already designed:

  • XL Mill MPSS: A tablet-based performance support solution (made up of quick, bite-sized instructional videos accompanied by Quick Reference Guides) that leverages the power of QR Codes
  • LearnQ: a mobile-based performance support app for our Quality Management System (QMS) that provides an ubiquitous way to access information while on the go

Today, while working on the design of a proximity-based embedded performance support mobile app using Qualcomm’s Gimbal Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, we set out on a quick journey to explore and learn more about this concept.

Below are the questions we had in mind when we embarked on our journey:

  • What are the true benefits of embedding performance support in the workflow of employees? What are the techniques to achieve the same?
  • How are embedded performance support solutions being used in workplaces around the world? What is the trend? What are the results?
  • What are some of the interesting use cases/stories that can inspire others?
  • What will the embedded performance support solutions of the future look like?
  • What are some of the useful resources available on this subject?


Below are some of the interesting resources on this subject that we would like to share with you.

Success Stories/Case Studies

  • “I’m Lovin’ It!”: McDonald’s Journey with Performance Support: This inspiring story by Bob Mosher (Chief Learning Evangelist at Ontuitive) narrates how McDonald’s Training & Learning Development team employed a new instructional design and delivery approach to design and implement an embedded performance support system that helped the company migrate its 14,000+ restaurants to a new back office management system successfully.
  • National Health Services – Case Study: This case study from Edge Interactive discusses how National Health Services (NHS) reformatted and optimized its lengthy online course on its integrated payroll system into an embedded performance support solution consisting of a short course with job aids and simulations.
  • Bringing Learning Into New Territory: This story is about how the oil and gas industry in Qatar is making use of its first mobile app for professional training (and possibly in the oil and gas industry worldwide) as a means of performance support for its employees (to access technical English-language terms specific to the energy sector) while on the job.


  • The Performance Support Storm: This presentation by Jos Arets, Vivian Heijnen and Charles Jennings discusses how to support informal (on-the-job) learning, social (peer) learning and formal (training courses) learning of the 70:20:10 model with performance support solutions.
  • Moving Beyond eLearning to Performance Support: Here’s a (recorded) webinar from eLearning Guild in which Bob Masher (Chief Learning Evangelist, Ontuitive) shares his insights on moving beyond conventional e-learning to embedded performance support solutions using industry examples in a highly interactive way.
  • The Impact of Wearable Technology on Performance Support: In this eLearning Guild presentation, David Kelly shares some interesting insights on how wearable technologies will impact performance support of the future. The examples and use cases included are inspiring and help trigger ideas for more possibilities.
  • Success Stories: Examples From Those Who are Making It Work!: This recorded webinar from Ontuitive features Brad Haime (Sr. Director, Organization & Management Development at PepsiCo) and Holly Whitcomb (Learning Strategist at 3M Company) as guest presenters demonstrating performance support solutions they use in their organizations, sharing best practices, and discussing results and successes thus far.


  • Disruption and Performance Support: In this Twist conversation from eLearning Guild (with David Kelly), Gary Wise (of Xerox) shares his wonderful insights on the changing needs of business and how that is disrupting learning and development.
  • Mobile for Learning and Performance Support: In this video (from WorkLearnMobile) Allison Rossett discusses how critical mobile is in the performance support sphere with the help of some very impressive scenarios and case studies.


  • Performance Support Should Be “” Smart: This Learning Solutions Magazine article by Conrad Gottfredson discusses an interesting and futuristic concept in the realm of performance support – personalized performance support – just like how Amazon smartly personalizes the buying experience for its customers by adapting to their behaviours.
  • MOOCs and Performance Support: This Your Training Edge article by Bryan Nelson (Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.) presents another interesting thought – How corporates can make use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for delivering embedded performance support integrated with knowledge transfer in their training programs effectively.
  • Ten Seconds: Performance Support in Two Clicks: This Learning Solutions Magazine article by Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher introduces brokering – the capability of integrating and making available the specific resources and information a performer needs at the moment of ‘apply’ – as the solution to the challenges that organizations face today with respect to ‘information chaos’.

White Papers/Documents

  • Performance Support – Ready When You Are: This white paper from Ontuitive discusses perform support solutions in the context of “Five Moments of Need” theory and the different types of performance support solutions. Also included are a brief about Ontuitive’s “Just Enough Learning” approach and its benefits supported by a few interesting case studies.
  • Performance Support – the Secret of L&D Success?: The major highlight of this insight paper by Imogen Casebourne and Rhodri Jonesfrom of Epic Learning Group is the section on its DRIVE model that comprises five steps (Decide, Reach out, Identify, Validate, Engage) to design and deliver embedded performance support solutions.
  • 25 Tips for Performance Support: This handout from Epic and Towards Maturity shares industry insights (in the form of tips) on how performance support can be integrated into workplace learning to improve the impact of training programs. These recommendations are based on Towards Maturity’s 2013-14 Benchmark report.


  • Performance Support Tool: To conclude, here is a performance support tool that is aimed at helping Learning and Development (L&D) practitioners to determine if performance support is right for their projects. It is worth trying this interesting tool that is adapted from the book ‘Job Aids and Performance Support in the Workplace’ authored by Allison Rossett and Lisa Schafer.


As we came to the end of our search, we had the following learnings as ‘take-aways’ from our little journey:

  • Embedded Performance Support Solutions are being accepted as the most effective and impactful discipline to deliver just-in-time information to help employees perform. We are excited to see how it is being adopted into the broader learning strategy by Learning and Development (L&D) practitioners.
  • We foresee a much tighter integration of embedded performance support into the learning strategy by organizations of tomorrow. We also foresee these solutions evolving further into smarter solutions that are powerful enough to add new dimensions to the concept of embedded performance support by helping make these ‘automated’ and more ‘personalised’, ‘adaptive’, ‘contextual’, ‘precise’, ‘natural’ and ‘effortless’. These solutions will be powered by emerging technologies such as:
    • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons
    • Wearable technologies (such as Google Glass and Apple Watch)
    • Big Data (Learning Analytics)
    • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • We also look forward to seeing more authoring tools that support design, develop and deliver smart embedded performance support solutions that could complement well with the formal learning efforts.
  • However, we are also aware of the challenges this poses for us (and today’s learning designers) – to upskill ourselves and re-align our instructional design practices to ensure that the embedded performance support that we design complements rather than interferes with present training efforts.

What are your thoughts on embedding performance support in the business process? What are some of the interesting ideas and experiences (from your workplace) that you would like to share? What are other interesting ‘stories’ on this subject that you have come across? What do you think embedded performance support solutions of future will look like?

We would love to hear.

Written by Santhosh Kumar


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