Weekend Reflections

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose 

But not always. Sometimes it is a Nova.

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Some words and phrases have a bad/poor connotation with the readers, the target audiences. This came up just the other day after I posted a Tweet back in January about the phrase “Performance Support” not being liked – that was then responded to with a complaint that seemed to have misread it as the concept not being liked.

This all came about because I had been chatting with Jane Bozarth and Bob Mosher back in January when Jane spoke at the ISPI Charlotte chapter, and we were discussing Guidance, Job Aids, Performance Support, Quick Reference Guides, Workflow Learning,  and even SOPs – and that what is sometimes seen as a New, is actually quite Old – as a concept and a practice.

Two things have changed and are changing. One is the label. The other is the technology that now better enables the concept and the practice.

One of the newer labels recently has been Performance Support – a shortened version of what Gloria Gery had called EPSS back in the 1980s and 90s. EPSS stood for Electronic Performance Support Systems.

It seems, according to Jane and Bob, that Performance Support is too close for many to Performance Management and Performance Plans – both with high negative connotations with the target audiences. Our target audiences.

Reminds me of Bob Mager’s Keynote Speech at the ISPI banquet in 1999 when he talked about the need for Testing – Pilot Testing – of our stuff before making it generally available.

One of his examples – or non-examples – was the Chevy Nova.

Nova – you need to understand – translates into No Going – or No Go – as Bob put it – in Spanish.

Which is a rather large segment of the car buying marketplace.

So it would seem that the phrase Performance Support is akin to Nova in our profession.

As my former colleague in the mid-1990s, Dick Hill, often said while crediting one of his former colleagues, “It’s not just semantics, it’s always semantics.” (So – Author Unknown.)


Thoughts and words to the wise, I think.

Carry on.

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