Performance support is hot

Performance support is hot. It is a central theme at many learning events and the possibilities seem endless. TinQwise uses principles of didactics, design and technology to see how best to implement performance support in organisations.

What would you like to know?

1. WHY. When is performance support the answer?

2. WHAT. What exactly do we mean by performance support?

3. HOW. How do companies successfully implement performance support?

4. RECAP. What should you absolutely remember?


Performance support isn’t new. In fact, the name has been around since the 90s. So where did this renewed interest come from? The answer lies in our current way of doing things, how we work and learn, in addition to technological advancements.

Organisational trends

  • Work processes are becoming more complex
  • Work processes change much more rapidly
  • Higher employee turnover
  • Increase of multi-skilled employees
  • Bigger emphasis on efficiency and KPIs
Organisational trends

Learning trends

Anywhere, anytime, any device. With the rise of flexible working arrangements, smartphones and tablets, learning initiatives are often mobile first and can be done anywhere and anytime.

Communities. Learning isn’t done in isolation. More attention is paid to setting up permanent systems that actively encourage knowledge sharing.

Wikis. Content becomes a shared responsibility on a certain topic or theme. Experts can preferably edit and/or add information themselves.

Learning as a business case. The effects of learning solutions on business performance are increasingly identified and measured.

Informal learning

We also embrace Charles Jennings’ 70:20:10 learning concept. The concept identifies 3 different forms of learning:

1. A structured programme

2. Learning from others

3. Learning by doing or experiencing

Particularly informal, or on-the-job, learning through practice, copying and continual feedback appeals to employers and employees. (And that is exactly what performance support is all about)

Informal learning


Find the differences! There are many definitions of performance support. Essentially they are all saying the same, but there are also some interesting nuances. We will highlight a few of them.


  • #1

     “An orchestrated set of services that provide on-demand access to integrated information, guidance, advice, assistance, training, and tools to enable high-level job performance with minimum support from other people.”

    Gloria Grey, Electronic Performance Support Systems

  • #2

    "A tool or resource, ranging from print to technology-supported, which provides just the right amount of task guidance, support, and productivity benefits to the user, precisely at the moment of need."

    Marc Rosenberg, International Society for Performance Improvement

  • #3

    "A performance support system provides just-in-time, just enough […] help for users […] to enable optimum performance by those users when and where needed, thereby also enhancing the performance of the overall business.”

    William Bezanson, former Nortel Networks executive

Just for me, just in time

Performance support is all about offering the right kind of support, in the right way, at the right time. Bob Mosher’s theory on performance support describes five critical moments. His advice for the first two moments is informal learning and performance support for the others. This is how you sustain effective performance.

5 moments of need

1. When learning for the first time

2. When wanting to learn more

3. When trying to apply and/or remember

4. When something changes

5. When someting goes wrong

5 moments of need

Design pyramid

  • It starts with the quick steps: insight into and short, direct help with the process and its accompanying tasks.
  • Then, the details: supporting information as a refence including more details and in-depth information.
  • And after that we have learning and people: ranging from e-learning and simulations, to wikis, chats and communities.


We believe anyone has the ability to grow. Performance support doesn’t only help you to perform better, faster and more effectively. It can also be used to get the utmost out of a team.


When implementing performance support make use of clear design principles at each moment and during every step 



When you tackle performance support there are quite a number of things to keep in mind. So where to start? The following five bullets will help you along.

Help do. #buthow?

  • Find the primary processes.

    What exactly is it that you do as an organisation? What are the crucial activities? How are you really getting to your final product or service? This may seem (deceptively) simple. However, it’s essential to stop and think about these questions before you’re ready to start working on performance support.

  • Pinpoiting tasks.

    Start by critically analysing all the processes. Make a flow chart or a matrix. Or both of course. Which steps are there? When do they stop running smoothly? What happens? Why is it going wrong? Who is involved? How de we solve it? What information is currently available?

  • Trust your people.

    Enhance your business goal together with the relevant stakeholders. Use both the experience of experienced employees as well as new ones. Design and test continually using real life user feedback. In the end, they are the ones you’re doing it for. Take complaints and suggestions seriously.

  • Find the sweet spot.

    What works? Choose something familiar and comfortable. In what way will users experience the least amount of discomfort? What could fit that description? What do people enjoy? Which format will take up the least amount of time?

  • Think bigger picture.

    Just because you developed a tool, doesn’t mean it’s actually going to be used. Include an introduction and keep in mind the novelty effect and adoption curve. Also set up a process for continual maintenance and updates.

What’s the yield?

Performance support produces employees who …

  • can be employed more quickly
  • feel encouraged and supported
  • act more independently
  • are more involved
  • feel useful within the organisation

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