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workflow - building practice into our work

"Most of our existing systems were designed to function in a paradigm of scarcity where each organization unit developed process and applications based on its own history. This parochial approach to work system design has yielded an increasingly disjointed and unintuitive work context for the employee.

Most of our training is compensatory for bad system design and help desks are the balloon payment on poor system design. If we have to teach people how to use a system, it wasn't designed right in the first place. Why do we have training that teaches useless jargon? Why should we have to live with error messages like 'File sharing illegal error?' Look at the evolution of a program like TurboTax. Simplify, simplify.

Learning must be reconceived to influence the primary purpose of organization: to perform effectively and efficiently. 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. What workers need to do their jobs – information, rules, and knowledge – is often spread all over the place. Good design puts these things within easy reach and shows how to use them to optimize performance."

- Gloria Gery

Creating modular, independent practice-like processes (e.g. AQAL brief) for different functions (e.g. marketing) is an example of performance centered design that Gloria describes. Here, instilling and engaging a process on an ongoing basis, especially by those with the least expertise, enables awareness and strengthens the functional aspect of the organization. Since the practice of using the process (e.g. the brief) engages the context (e.g. perspectives) for a particular outcome (e.g. an advertisment for a product), what you get is a workflow of learning and performance no longer only dependent on those doing the work entirely, or one expert, or any outside training.

"The goal of performance-centered design is to institutionalize 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 it as if they did." - Gloria Gery


Pashmina Lalchandani
this is pashmina