Innovative Performance Support by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson


I am just finishing Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson’s latest book called:  Innovative Performance Support and I have enjoyed it. It has two really powerful virtues.  The first is that is is easy to read and more importantly, perhaps, it comes at a really important juncture in the trajectory of corporate learning.  It is the right book, at the right time, in the right way.


Two concrete examples:  the chapter headed ‘supporting performance at all five moments of need’ is a thoughtful insight into comprehensive learning issues around engagement. The five moments are: when it is something new; when you need more breadth or depth; when you apply what you have learnt; when you need to solve problems and when things change.


Performance support interacts with all five of those moments of need whereas most conventional learning programs never get past the first two: ‘new’ and ‘more’. Performance support gets you the right kind of learning at the moment when it is most needed, in order to help you perform most effectively.  Take a performance support perspective and what constitutes learning and how learning interacts with the learner has a new shape and a new focus. The book really gets this point over.


The second example is the effective use of checklists to summarize and point to action for the reader.  If you want to design a support solution, the checklist on p89 takes you though the main issues to consider.  In one page, the authors help the reader apply the five moments of need to a specific issue or problem that she faces and help her sketch out a solution.  This is incredibly helpful and focussed.


Each chapter has an few pages of comments from a thought leader in that particular field tagged onto the end.  I have never seen this before.  Essentially an expert in the particular subject has a few pages to exchange insights that works alongside the more text book/how to do it approach of the book.  It succeeds brilliantly. I loved, for example, Mark Oehlert’s insights in the “Employing the strength of social learning” chapter. In just two pages he picks up on three critical blockers that prevent social learning from being implemented: the challenge of fear, the threat of loss of control and lack of trust.  The pages complement the more theoretical perspectives from the two authors and add value to the chapter as a whole.


I also like the little stories that begin each chapter, from a first kiss to Bob’s mother’s 80th birthday party. They are amusing anecdotes but relevant.  I suspect I will remember the stories in detail long after the rest of the text has faded.  They might be oblique to the tenets of the book as a whole, but totally relevant to the content as it gives everything an authentic context.


The book takes you though a logical sequence beginning with “The case for Performance Support” through establishing the five moments of need, to building a process for delivery, and finally “Implementing your Performance Support Strategy”.  It covers all of this in 245 pages which are insightful, practical and filled with  boundless evidence for taking this practice seriously and developing it effectively.  It is a book that will become dog-eared from use as it is both a narrative and a reference.  Valuable now, and over time; it is worth every cent of the $30 cover price.

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