L&D: Performance Support – What’s Old Is New Again

Guidance – Job Aids – EPSS – Performance Support

Same Diff. IMO.

Perhaps … just perhaps … This time for sure!

I’ve been waiting for the promise of this for a long time. Since 1979 in fact.

And now … from my paper file folders in metal file cabinets … to digital PDFs … to you…

Dateline 1970

Using guidance materials … over half the time, PRAXIS analysts have found that guidance is superior to training for increasing worker accuracy, teaching complex tasks and reaching personnel at remote locations.

The late Geary A. Rummler & the late Thomas F. Gilbert in their PRAXIS Report Sept-Oct 1970.

I’ve had this copy of a copy of a copy of their Report since 1979. Someone before me highlighted it in green. It sat in a file folder in a metal file cabinet until about 5 years ago when I started making PDFs of my extensive paper files.

Guidance Materials - Rummler-Gilbert at PRAXIS 1970

From the PRAXIS Report…

Basically, there are three levels of guidance. In ascending order of complexity they are:

The Directory, the Ensampler and the Query

The Directory is the simplest and the most familiar form of guidance. Designed to tell a worker how to do a job, step by step, a directory can be a checklist; worksheets; a list of instruction or even a tape recorder strapped to the worker’s belt, telling him exactly what to do.

Guidance, is also used when a job requires judgment rather than structured procedures.

The Ensampler, in most cases, gives the user a number of examples that he can refer to when making decisions about the task at hand.

The Query is used when judgments are so complex or so subtle that instructions and examples will not suffice. Also, the query is helpful for introducing new techniques to people who might be offended by more rudimentary types of guidance.


Use Guidance for:

1. Tasks that involve many simple steps.

2. Tasks that allow instructions to be read during performance.

3. Tasks where small errors in performance can produce significant negative consequences.

4. Tasks that are performed only infrequently.

5. Tasks where accuracy generally more important than speed.

6. Tasks that are assigned small instructional budgets.

Use Training for:

1. Tasks where speed is generally more important than accuracy.

2. Tasks where reading instructions would interfere with performance.

3. Tasks where small errors are not usually costly.

For more see this hard to read/ marked up PDF: The 1970 PRAXIS Report – 1970 Praxis Report – Guidance vs Training

I was lucky to start off in the field with co-workers that were followers of Rummler and Gilbert. They worked with Geary’s brother before coming to Wickes Lumber in Saginaw – where we worked alongside Geary’s brother-in-law.

See the short video I recorded of him in 2008 and the 3 others I have posted of him elsewhere on this site.

After I left Wickes and joined Motorola in 1981 I had the opportunity for 18 months to work alongside Rummler on numerous projects – my projects – where I carried his pencils. THAT was a learning experience – as they say. I have numerous Rummler handouts – and many refer to Guidance vs Job Aids.

And now … from one of Geary Rummler’s good friends and fierce competitors … and a student of Tom Gilbert’s (at Alabama) … a guy sometimes known to friends and colleagues as Bubba …

Dateline 1985

Harless Rule #342: “Inside every fat course there’s a thin Job Aid crying to get out.

The late Joe H. Harless (1940-2012) in “Performance Technology and Other Popular Myths” July 1985, Performance and Instruction Journal.


Brother Joe influenced many over his decades in the business.

In this article he told us “How To say “Sure!“” to a request that was suspect. I’ve posted on this before.

Also see the videos I recorded of him (4) in 2008 and 2009 and in 2012 elsewhere on this site.

The Harless 1985 NSPI PIJ article – Harless-1985-Performance_Improvement

Dateline 1995

Increasingly, software will be task focused. Support for both task performance and learning will become an integral part of the technological environment characterized by computer-mediated work.

-Gloria Gery

Gloria Gery

The 1995 ISPI PIQ article – Gery-1995-Performance_Improvement_Quarterly

I met Gloria at NSPI/ISPI back in the day – although she probably wouldn’t remember. It was unfortunate that she didn’t get the acclaim and support at NSPI/ISPI that she deserved – but there were political fights going on within about the focus of The Society and if performance-based Training/Instruction should continue to be the focus – or if it should shift to “well beyond Knowledge/Skills” to all of the other human variables … and/or even shift beyond the human variables … to the Process and everything else.

Enterprise Performance is complex. It’s much more than Knowledge/Skills. It’s about the Process (Tasks) and all of the “enablers” of that Process.

For more about Gloria Gery see:


How I’ve Approached This Over the Decades

First – expect at the start that everything could potentially be a Performance Aid – and then decide if it would also need Instruction (Training or Learning) or not – to support the support. And eliminate the idea of Performance Aids alone or with Training – if not feasible. An EMS Technician doesn’t have time to refer to Guidance – Job Aids – EPSS for everything they’ve got to do. And airline pilots use pre-flight checklists.

The PRAXIS guidance on Guidance is a good guide to whether of not it should be Guidance or Training.


That’s it. Simple, right?

No – it’s not – read the 1970 PRAXIS Report – here.

Waiting Waiting Waiting

Is the wait finally over? For Guidance or Job Aids or Performance Support?

I think it is.

The time is right – the technology needed is ubiquitous – so – let’s get it done.

Shift into high gear for Performance Guides, Aids or Support 

A Rose by any Name … call it whatever works in your Context.

But … Dude, Where’s My George Jetson Flying Car?

Still waiting.

It must be things other than Knowledge/Skills holding that up.

It too is complex.

And maybe it’s time is not quite here.

But it too is coming.

# # #


4 comments on “L&D: Performance Support – What’s Old Is New Again

  1. Pingback: T&D/PI: The Pivot From Learning to Performance | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: Geary Rummler & Tom Gilbert: 1970 Praxis Report – Guidance vs Training – HPT Treasures – for Evidence Based Performance Improvement

  3. Pingback: T&D: Thinking Ahead to the Means of Utilization During Analysis | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  4. Pingback: The Importance Of A Framework In Designing Performance Support Tools - Purnima Valiathan

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