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What is Workflow Learning?
Saturday, April 09, 2005
If you prefer, this sixteen-minute presentation is online here.

Workflow Learning is the convergence of learning and work.

Let's explore that thought along these four dimensions:
  • Performance-Centered Design
  • Exponential Acceleration
  • Living Information Systems
  • Dense Interconnections

Performance-Centered Design

Gloria Gery, a computer trainer at Aetna Insurance, realized that training was being used as a BandAid for poorly designed systems and went on to write a book about it in 1991.

In her own words,
We must give up the idea that competence must exist within the person and expand our view that whenever possible it should be built into the situation.

Performance-centered design institutionalizes best practice on an ongoing basis, all of the time, by the least capable of performers, to enable people who don’t know what they are doing to function as if they did.

The common thread for the learning and performance support communities is this: “How do we get people what they need at the moment of need, and what form should it be in?”

‘How is Workflow Based learning different from performance support?’ Well, this is performance support on steroids – magnified, with a much higher impact. The workflow is the context, the magic filter through which we will be able to filter content, against which we have to compare default tactics. A fusion of learning and doing is on the way.
Gloria was right on target but ahead of the technology required to carry out her vision. We were honored when she became the first Felloow of the Workflow Institute. Now Gloria has moved on and is caring for high-risk bablies in Romania.

Volunteer or donate to the Romania Volunteer Program.

Exponential Acceleration

Everything goes ever faster. Time itself has sped up. Let's look at but one example, the shifting source of competitive advantage in business::

Companies used to compete on time-to-market and other measures of how quickly things were accomplished; everyone's so fast now that sheer speed is no longer a point of competitive advantage. Companies began to compete on the basis of who could bring out new models fastest. Outfits that used to bring out a new product line every other year began to do so every other month or even continuously. The next competitve frontier will be ruled by organizations that can enter and exit business models most rapidly: time-to-morph the company.

Living Information Systems

IT is becoming interoperable, loosely-coupled, cooperative, user-controlled, and virtual, but the most important factor of all is that it's becoming aware. Systems are transmitting meaning as well as information.

The advent of Web services and Service-Oriented Architecture will enable corporations to act as systems of interchangeable business processes:

Computers swapping meaning with each other will remove the human roadblocks to efficient processes:

This will decrease the biggest source of waste in organizations today: needless slack.

In time, processes will be on the lookout for process improvements 24/7:

Workflfow Learning results from optimizing the connections between people and value creation.

Organizations worldwide will be pulled into a single world network:

This network will become so valuable that there's no escaping it. It will become the world's digital nervous system. Oh, and we'll all work there.

There's always more at .


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