by Allison Rossett

I’ve been having these two parallel dreams about e-learning. One is rosy and rich with possibilities. The other isn’t quite a nightmare, but it has people running down corridors and bumping into walls.

In that first happy dream, an executive is extolling the virtues of e-learning, eyes lit up by the promise of reduced costs, standardized messages, and instantaneous updates. This executive is responding to promises such as the one offered online by Accenture’s e-learning venture, Indeliq: our approach can accelerate learning up to three times, and improve cognition and retention up to 15 times, over traditional, lecture-based classes.

Who wouldn’t be exuberant?

But in that second dream, the mood is anxious. I toss and turn. Many employees hesitate to sign up for e-learning, and when they do, their participation is spotty. So is persistence. Online materials often languish there, suffering from a lack of maintenance and relevance. Students pine for the good old days, when instructors entertained them in class with war stories.

My own e-learning experiences could best be described as a mixed bag (see Rossett, 2000 and Rossett & Sheldon, 2001), with reasons for hope, yet causes for concern. Some of my favorite sources, such as Rosenberg (2001) and Lguide, acknowledge the challenges involved in putting technology to good use in learning and performance improvement.

Who then wouldn’t suffer some sleepless nights?

But I do take comfort from inspirations that come of performance technology. Sure, you say. What does performance technology have to do with it?

Much, I think. Look under the big tent.

The Big Tent of E-learning
E-learning, especially a big tent view, is about much more than learning. Oh, learning is a part of it, a big part, but it isn’t all there is.

Learning: Current views support a definition of learning that revolves around a change in the brain, in what we can remember and use, when needed. You could say that we’ve learned when we “get it.” Typically, that takes some effort, some thought, some mental manipulation, such as working on a problem and comparing what you’ve done with an expert, or looking at what someone else has done and attempting to identify errors. Through examination, actions, and feedback, repeated over time, people learn.

Information support and coaching: While learning is directed at enhancing individual capacity, information support and coaching focus on building an external resource into which the individual dips at the moment of need. Want to install a new motherboard? Want to change the message on your answering machine? Want to mix a Cosmopolitan? Want to figure out which dog breed to buy? Want to bone up on the products of a pesky competitor? Want to compare WebCT and Blackboard as online course-delivery systems prior to a purchase decision? Want to know what to do when the control panel in the nuclear plant suggests a festering problem? All these topics matter, when you need to know. Perhaps you don’t want to rely on your memory, or elect to invest in memorizing the information. Or perhaps it’s so critical that you don’t dare make a false move. When these circumstances are in effect, circumstances ever-so-familiar to performance technologists, the topics become candidates for online help systems, technology-based coaching, or a nifty online support tool, such as how-to-pick-a-dog-breed at

Knowledge management (KM): When information grows into a full-blown system that reaches out to capture, organize, and stir organizational brainpower, KM is happening. KM is an attempt to maximize the “smarts” that exist within people and organizations. A famous quote about Hewlett Packard pinpoints the need: “If HP only knew what HP knows....” Research conducted by Szulanski (1996) for the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) revealed that successful practices linger in a company for years, unrecognized and unshared. When recognized, it took more than two years before other entities within a company began to actively adopt best practices, if at all. KM is represented by large and small efforts to collect documents, practices, and lessons learned in a way that facilitates wide distribution. Getting a grip on this knowledge, nurturing it, making it accessible, encouraging conversation about it, and updating it are at the heart of KM.

Interaction and collaboration: Even though classroom instruction is often remembered for its interactive moment, technology too can be used to engage, stir, and foment. It can bring people together for many purposes, such as one-to-one development and coaching, online communities of practice, pre- and post-class listservs, and individual engagement with complex simulations and examples. One pharmaceutical company creates interdisciplinary and global teams to work on pressing problems; a telecommunications company creates a collaborative online workspace to manage and push their product launch; and a group of graduate students relies upon a database of rubrics to help them develop, assess, and improve their papers and reports. Interactive? I think so. Collaborative? Definitely.

Guidance and tracking: New technology enables more and better measurement, guidance, assessment, tracking, and information. That direction is a hallmark of performance technology. Individual contributors can look at themselves in light of standards, can test their mettle on scenarios that reflect organizational trends and emerging priorities. Organizations, even, can assess their status and readiness. See, for example, Senior Corps Tech Center’s Office Self-Assessment Tool. Best of all, systems can guide individuals toward critical skills. Managers can enjoy a better view of employee skills and knowledge, with more insight into what has been studied and completed, what information is sought, where people return for more information, and what is contributed to knowledge bases. Executives, too, can capture a view of organizational skills and needs, looking at what people elect to study, what they don’t, where they search and what they find, and how they participate in online communities of practice. In addition, leaders can comfort themselves and their legal influencers with technology-based information about compliance and risk avoidance.

Sleeping Through the Night
While the classroom can be a warm and nurturing place, it also can be characterized as a black box. What instructor hasn’t wondered whether participants are thinking about the course or a meal, if they’d choose to be in the room if they could find a way out the door? Web tracking and learning management systems can be helpful here because they provide instantaneous insight into attention and performance. Employees can self-assess in light of career paths and expectations. Supervisors can scrutinize what employees select. Executives can examine start, completion, and persistence patterns. Customer satisfaction and error data, for example, can influence choices about what to improve, study, and research. Vendors, too, can get much smarter about how their products are used or ignored. So much transparency helps to target messages, coaching, and performance management systems.

E-learning will reward those who proceed without irrational exuberance.

Assume that the organization is not yet sufficiently fertilized to capitalize on e-learning. Worry about individual readiness. Seek out programs that resonate with character, cases, and interactivity; eschew programs where legacy instructor-led and CBT have been “converted” to the web. Define a role for managers and supervisors, and use the Intranet to assure their participation. Measure everything. Create contracts with vendors and the lines that allow you to do something with measurements. Link e-learning to performance reviews and strategic goals. Improve the technology infrastructure. Anticipate glitches, because they will surely come. Invest in keeping the glitches from becoming nightmares.

E-learning allows learning and performance professionals to do things we have always wanted to do: to deliver learning and information immediately; to deliver everywhere; to empower individuals; to coach; to collect and distribute best practices; to increase dialogue; to bust through the classroom walls; to increase community; and to know through measurement who is learning, referring to source materials, and contributing. While skepticism is essential to success with e-learning, there is much here to prompt us to wake up refreshed and smiling.

Rosenberg, M.J. (2001). E-learning: Strategies for delivering knowledge in the digital age. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rossett, A. (August, 2000). Confessions of a web dropout. Training, 37(8), 100-1.

Rossett, A. & Sheldon, K. (2001). Beyond the podium: Delivering training and performance to a digital world. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Rossett, A., ed. (2002). The ASTD e-learning handbook: Best practices, strategies and case studies for an emerging field. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Szulanski, G. (1996, Winter). Exploring internal stickiness: Impediments to the transfer of best practices within the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 27-43.

Related Resources
Davenport, T.H. (June, 2001). E-learning and the attention economy: Here, there and everywhere? [Online]. Available:

Hartley, D. (2000). On demand learning: Training in the new millennium. Amherst, MA: HRD Press.

McGraw, K. L. (June, 2001). E-learning strategy equals infrastructure. [Online]. Available:

Rossett, A. (June, 2001). E-trainer evolution. [Online]. Available:

Shank, R. (1997). Virtual learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Van Buren, M. (2001). State of the industry report 2001. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Dr. Allison Rossett, Professor of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, is an International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Member-for-Life. This article was adapted from a chapter in her new book, The ASTD e-learning Handbook: Best Practices, Strategies and Case Studies for an Emerging Field (McGraw-Hill, 2002). Her book, Beyond the Podium: Delivering Training and Performance to a Digital World, won ISPI’s 2002 Award of Excellence in Instructional Communication. Allison may be reached at

Just Confirmed! Allison Rossett will be the keynote presenter at ISPI's Fall Conference, Performance Based Instructional Systems Design in Chicago, Illinois, September 26-28, 2002.

by Ethan S. Sanders

During a focus group conducted
prior to writing Performance Intervention Maps: 36 Strategies for Solving Your Organizations Problems (Sanders & Thiagarajan, 2001), one theme emerged: trainers and performance consultants are anxious to use a variety of interventions instead of focusing merely on training. They now realize that in order to solve organizational problems, the list of potential interventions must continue to grow. But “new interventions” means more than just alternative training methods. Here is a sampling of interventions that fall within the six categories outlined in the book:

Improving Knowledge and Skills
Self-Directed Learning
Learning should be lifelong and self-guided. Learning that is self-directed takes place everywhere—in teams, in knowledge management systems, and in career development programs, for example. Use this intervention when the learner is highly motivated to gain knowledge and the organization wants to create self-confident, problem-solving performers.

Improving Motives
Can fun have a positive impact on human performance? Yes! Playfulness improves morale and mental health, and it encourages creative problem solving. Use this intervention when the following root causes suggest the need for playfulness: absenteeism, substance abuse, sickness, and stress.

Improving Physical Resources
Ergonomics and Human Factors
Fitting people to work is at the heart of ergonomics. When done right, the results are transparent. If ignored, the results are visible and often harmful. Use this intervention when a mismatch occurs between individuals and environment causing injury or excessive fatigue.

Improving Structure and Process
Process Redesign
As organizations become less hierarchical, the need for coordination between departments increases. When departmental boundaries become blurry, a tactical plan is necessary to outline the flow of activities. Use this intervention when poor performance rears its head in the form of slow, cumbersome work processes, bottlenecks, and turf battles. The residual effect is often a slowing of productivity and low morale.

Improving Information
While experience may be the best teacher, it does not guarantee that people learn. Debriefing is the process of facilitating to help participants reflect on experience, gain insight, and share. Use this intervention at moments when employees achieve important milestones, experience tragedies, or after large-scale changes within the organization.

Improving Health
Violence Prevention
Even if your company never experiences workplace violence, the fear of an episode can have a negative effect on performance. Preventing violence is done through education, security measures, and empowerment. Use this intervention before violence occurs.

While it is easy to say that we should use all available resources to fix the root causes of a performance problem, the complexity of doing so quickly catches up with us. Performance Intervention Maps charts 36 interventions—what they are, when to use them, and when not to use them, how to use them successfully, how to design them, and how to implement them. Although this book offers a good basis in performance interventions, there’s much more we need to know. If we point to problems without recommending solutions, we perpetuate the belief that consultants are merely critics of human performance, not problem solvers of poor performance. Performance Intervention Maps was written with the hope of moving the profession beyond this belief and creating a new image of performance consultants in the minds of our clients.

  Ethan S. Sanders is president and CEO of Sundial Learning Systems. Before founding Sundial, Ethan was manager of instructional design for the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). He may be reached at






by Carol Haig & Roger Addison

This is the debut of TrendSpotters, a series of quick takes on the trends in organizations that are driving performance in today’s business environment. We will be interviewing members of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) from around the world. They’ll share with you their views of events in the workplace that impact performance improvement, and how what they see relates to their area of specialization.

For this issue, we chatted with Margo Murray of MMHA, The Managers’ Mentors Inc. in Oakland, California. Margo has spotted four trends:

Significant Trends
Advances in technology are significant, enabling organizations to run leaner and communicate faster. Savings in administrative costs have enabled much-needed downsizing in many companies. Those organizations that invest technology savings in their core businesses will reap the greatest rewards.

Competition for products, services, and people, especially in the U.S. is increasing. Even in this tight job market, competition for good people is intense. People with a track record of strong results are in great demand. Consequently, competition among workers is increasing. The hiring bonus is back, and severance packages are richer than ever.

To stay competitive, organizations are compelled to view their employees as assets and act, rather than just talk, accordingly. During mergers and acquisitions, it will be imperative to perform cultural due diligence to ensure that the employees of both organizations can mesh.

Lack of trust in employers is on the rise. Many workers perceive their leadership as unethical or incompetent, or both. A quick look at the latest headlines about Enron or the California energy crisis raises this level of mistrust. Consequently, people are choosier about where they work. They want to join an organization with which they share basic values and where they can expect competent and ethical behavior from their management.

Workers want more of a voice in their job responsibilities, in where they work and when. We see an increase in teleworking, flexible working hours, job-sharing, and other non-traditional arrangements. For many, the answer is a home-based business or working remotely in order to better balance work and family. The bottom line: organizations must show tangible results to attract workers, investors, and consumers. The successful organization is one that stays close to the needs of its stakeholders.

Impact of These Trends
People want to work to their potential. They will seek venues where they have a greater voice in all aspects of their job, where their values align with their employer’s, and where they trust their senior management.

Influence of These Trends on Mentoring
With employees demanding more, guiding their professional growth and development is key. We can no longer treat people as a group in the workplace, nor can we afford the time to let people learn by trial and error what others already know. Enter mentoring—a highly focused, targeted approach to individual employee development that is effective and efficient. Mentoring puts learning into context with direct application on the job.

If you have any suggestions of trends driving performance in today’s business environment that you feel would be of interest to the PerformanceXpress readership, please contact Carol Haig at or Roger Addison at


by Jeanne Farrington

Figuring out how to help new hires learn the ropes
in their new company or department can be a challenge. There can be any number of new concepts, procedures, systems, norms, and rules that new hires must master to come up to speed. Obviously, helping new hires to learn their new jobs quickly—and well—can help the department and the company to meet their goals. Here are some elements to consider for a new hire support system:

Early Communications. Some companies send information to new hires right after they accept an offer: benefits brochures and forms, for example, or access to a special area of their Intranet for information about products, organizations, company goals, and so forth. Additionally, companies may collect the information required to have business cards, name plates, computer systems and other supplies, tools, and furnishings ready to go when the new employee arrives.

New Hire Orientation (NHO). Often offered the first day, week, or month of an employee’s start date, the NHO lasts for a few hours or a few days. Ranging from simply filling out benefits forms to a full-blown, day’s-long training, the NHO helps employees to learn those things that Everybody Who Works Here should know. Often this training will include product, customer, and internal company information: what we make, what it does, who buys it, how the company is organized, and how we work together (culture). A small segment on company history is generally included. Usually this “training” is really a transfer of information and can be done in the classroom (typical) or via a mediated alternative, such as web-based training (less personal, but potentially more practical). Establishing relationships with other new employees can be a welcome consequence of classroom-based new-hire training.

New Hire Orientation II. Some companies create a second course for new hires to provide more information and to answer questions that have come up over the first months of employment at the new company. The first day or week of employment there is so much new information that there is only so much a new employee can absorb. NHO II provides employees with a second opportunity to learn more in general about the company.

Department Orientations. Some organizations within a company have their own processes that new hires must learn. For example, new employees with a certain type of job may need to learn how to assemble a widget, take customer calls, use legacy applications, sell the company’s products, follow internal processes, interact with other departments, etc. Department orientations can be given in any combination of formats like these: trial and error (sadly overused), conversations with one’s manager and co-workers, on-the-job training, a coaching program, or formal training.

Information Systems. Many companies now have information arranged for new hires and others on their internal websites. This might include who’s who in the company, company and department goals, policies and procedures, and how to submit a travel request, find a training program, or hire a contractor.

Coaches. Depending on the nature of the job, a new hire might have someone to show him or her the ropes. This could be as simple as someone who gives a tour on the first day of the work area: “Here’s the break room.” Or, a coach might be someone who spends days or weeks going through a formal coaching protocol to teach department and company-specific knowledge or skills. For some positions, a mentor might assist the new hire to develop his or her skills, contribution, and career within the company over a longer period of time.

For each distinct group of new hires, consider what they should learn to make their best contribution at the company. Compare the costs of providing support for their learning versus the cost of having it take days, weeks, or months longer for them to be productive in their new jobs. Different departments and job functions will no doubt benefit from different amounts of new hire support. Look for a cost-efficient way to provide the right level of support to achieve more productivity sooner.

Jeanne Farrington, EdD, is President of Redwood Mountain Consulting, providing strategic training, organization development, and performance consulting services for companies of all sizes. She was recently elected to serve as a Director on ISPI’s 2002-2003 Board of Directors. Jeanne may be reached at


For each distinct group of new hires, consider what they should learn to make their best contribution at the company.

by Barbara Gough, 2002 Conference Program Chair

Time is running short for you to make your reservations for the 2002 International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo, April 21-25 in Dallas, Texas. You must register by March 15 to qualify for the discounted registration rates.

Why Should You Register?
Of all the conferences that you could attend, ISPI’s International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo gives you the greatest access to influential individuals and leaders in the field of human performance technology. The various sessions are focused specifically to meet your needs. From full-day workshops to 90-minute concurrent sessions, attendees have the opportunity to interact with presenters up close and personal. You also get the value of networking with your peers. And let’s not forget about the Expo Hall featuring the latest in products and services.

And selected especially for this year’s conference, you will get the value of:

In addition, you won’t want to miss the incredibly timely Presidential Initiative: A Look at HPT in the Aviation Industry. This special session will cover a topic that has had a lasting and significant impact on the lives of every citizen of the world.

Months before the infamous 9/11 tragedy, ISPI had invited representatives from the aviation industry to discuss how they apply HPT principles to their operations. The discussion is even more relevant now. The question is, “Does HPT have something to offer during difficult times?” The panelists, who work for the airlines, airports, and government, will describe some of the challenges they have had and continue to face since 9/11 and what their approach has been. You will hear how they have responded to the demand for greater safety while still meeting the needs for convenience, customer service, competitive differentiation, cost containment, new technology, layoffs, and expansion.

Join ISPI President, Judith Hale, and her distinguished panel of experts on Wednesday, April 24 from 12:30-1:30 pm. Speakers will include:

  • Mike Brogan, Manager OD, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
  • Jim Johnson, Executive Director, American Association of Airline Executives
  • Bill Lee, Director of Performance Technology, American Airlines
  • Peter Nelson, Manager, Course Design & Development, People U. Southwest Airlines

What greater value can you find? Register now for the 2002 International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo.



by Karen Medsker

Performance technologists and instructional designers have lately debated the sins and virtues of ISD. Two Training articles (Gordon & Zemke, 2000; Zemke & Rossett, 2002) summarize the major criticisms and defenses.

One of ISD’s alleged failings is that “it’s just too generic and simplistic to be really helpful for the detailed design of instruction” (Diane Gayeski as quoted by Zemke & Rossett). Looking just at the five boxes (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate), ISD surely is too generic and simplistic (although still brilliant in its break-through simplicity, and still dangerous to ignore in the real world!), but instructional models add muscle to the bare ISD bones (ADDIE). These muscles—algorithms and heuristics—are based on extensive research and practice. Competent and creative practitioners use the bones and the muscles together to produce effective learning.

Some attackers view ISD as a single, static model. As such, ISD is rigid, confining, cumbersome, and boring. Instead, ISD should be viewed as a meta-strategy—an overall systems approach—within which we customize the steps, approaches, and timeline for each project (see Tennyson, 1999).

One way to use ISD flexibly and competently is to choose systematically an instructional model that fits your project, rather than always using the same one, or choosing at random. Based on analysis of learners, content, learning context, performance environment, development environment, etc., the creative and sophisticated instructional designer selects one or more appropriate design models—muscles—to empower the ISD bones.

Example #1: Two recently-merged global oil companies prepare to launch their new dual-brand strategy for lubricants. The product lines and sales approaches of the two heritage companies differ significantly, and now the salespeople must sell both product lines to a variety of customer segments. New product knowledge and interpersonal skills are required. A large budget is available. A highly skilled training development company is hired. The product knowledge will be delivered via an Internet-based system, while the interpersonal skills will be taught in an instructor-led classroom. Component Display Theory is chosen as the instructional model for the technology-based learning. Behavior Modeling is selected for the classroom instruction.

Example #2: A workforce development organization provides programmatic support for people who are overcoming barriers to employment and entering the workforce (e.g., welfare to work, prison to work, recovery from addiction). After job training and counseling, clients go to work. But learning needs continue, especially during the first year of employment (e.g., how to manage childcare and transportation, stay motivated, develop career options, and manage relationships with supervisor and co-workers). Web-based skill modules, plus a virtual community of learners and mentors, is the chosen delivery system. The organization will provide laptop computers and Internet access so that learners can participate from home. Popular (learner-centered) education, along with some elements of cooperative learning, is selected as the instructional design model.

Read Models and Strategies for Training Design (Medsker & Holdsworth, 2001) to learn why the models chosen in these examples are sound choices. The book’s thesis is that carefully chosen design models and strategies can contribute to the effectiveness and to the appeal of the learning experience. It explains and illustrates 16 instructional models and strategies based on behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, and social theoretical perspectives. A job aid guides users in customizing their choices to their own design projects.

Gordon, J., & Zemke, R. (April, 2000). The attack on ISD. Training, 37(4), 42-53.

Medsker, K., & Holdsworth, K. (Eds.) (2001). Models and strategies for training design. Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement.

Tennyson, R.D. (July, 1999). Instructional development and ISD4 methodology. Performance Improvement, 38(6), 19-27.

Zemke, R., & Rossett, A. (February, 2002). A hard look at ISD. Training, 39(2), 27-35.

Karen Medsker is Professor and Chair of the Human Resources Department, School of Business, at Marymount University. She also heads a small consulting firm, Human Performance Systems, Inc. Karen was recently selected, along with Michael Cassidy, to serve as co-editor of Performance Improvement Quarterly. She may be reached at or

As the ISD debate intensifies, ISPI responds to your increased interest with a specialized Fall Conference, Performance Based Instructional Systems Design in Chicago, Illinois, September 26-28, 2002. For more information, visit

by Judith Hale, ISPI President

As the outgoing president of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), it is my responsibility to recount for you the happenings and the accomplishments of the past year. It was certainly a year of unexpected events, and we still don’t know what the long-term consequences will be. To start, a lot happened...

The year began with a strong conference in San Francisco, a strategic plan in place, staff in a new office, and sufficient reserves to proceed with projects already underway. As many of you may know, ISPI relies on income from membership dues, conference attendance, book sales, and institutes to fund services, operations, and research. Previous Boards, beginning with Ruth Clark, instituted some changes to diversify our income stream and restructure our more costly services to protect the Society during negative economies. For example, the HPT Institutes and the fall conference were designed to provide a greater range of services to members and additional income to the Society. To reduce non-value-adding print production costs, New & Notes and the membership directory were converted to web-based products, and the organization began to partner with other associations in publishing books. Many of these changes helped ISPI to expand our market and reduce our costs; however, the tragedy of September 11, 2001 put some of these changes to the test.

The fall conference, scheduled to begin on September 12, was cancelled and the expected income lost; however, this loss was partially offset by ISPI’s in-house and new online HPT Institutes. Membership is holding despite the economic slump that has cost many people their jobs and increased employment uncertainty for others. Some people may not remember the economic slump of the early 1970s, but those that do know the importance of networking and professional development. They are the ones that either retained or got jobs. I’d like to believe ISPI’s members haven’t forgotten the lessons of the early 1970s and are committed to maintaining their professional affiliations. A number of societies have experienced a major reduction in attendance at their conferences. Those societies have cut back on services to members and reduced staff. By the time you read this, ISPI will have a good idea what its attendance will be at the Dallas conference. But, no matter what the count, ISPI will continue with business as usual—providing top-quality publications and services; promoting the fall conference, HPT Institutes, and its new certification; pursuing new partnerships; and researching and developing new programs and services for our members.

ISPI’s accomplishments are noteworthy, too. The more visible accomplishments are the new PerformanceXpress, our partnering with ASTD and the Center for Effective Performance in co-publishing, our providing SHRM with white papers on performance improvement and with permission to re-publish articles from Performance Improvement journal on their website, and our growth in international membership. A less visible accomplishment is our partnership with the SITE Foundation that funded a major research study on incentives. The results of this study will become available this spring.

A major accomplishment for the Society is certification—the Certified Performance Technologist. The standards on which the certification is based are now available. The certification is designed to recognize practitioners who have demonstrated proficiency in the standards. To encourage early adoption of the credential, ISPI is pursuing partnerships with other associations to promote the certification and is currently working on guidelines for “grandfathering.” Grandfathering will allow more experienced members to be exempt from the full assessment process. More details and an article on “Why and How to Get Certified” will appear in the April 2002 issue of PerformanceXpress.

Now is the time to turn over the leadership to Jim Hill, who will officially take office at the Dallas conference. Please join me in wishing Jim and his Board a successful year.



by Carl Binder

In this inaugural issue of this column, it seems appropriate to set expectations. The purpose of this column is to provide practical perspectives, strategies, and techniques for gathering, analyzing, and presenting measures of behavior, accomplishments, and business results as part of the practice of performance improvement. We’ll not spend much time on research methods or statistical techniques, although plain English translations of measurement concepts or processes might sometimes be in order.

The name of this column—Measurement Counts!—has a double meaning. First, it emphasizes that measurement of results is essential in the professional practice of performance improvement. Without measurement of the behavior, work outputs (accomplishments) and/or business results we seek to improve, our technology lacks empirical foundation and our claims lack credibility.

A second message in the title suggests a return to the basics of measurement. After all, measurement is about counting things in standard units. At the root of every important advance in science or technology there has always been a set of countable standard units (e.g., kilograms, meters, minutes, cycles, lumens) that allows practitioners to collect objective, reliable measures and to perform basic arithmetic operations on them. Similarly, practitioners of human performance technology need to count and calculate using standard measures of behavior, accomplishments, and/or business results. We’ll devote many columns to the application of this principle, and include examples of countable units for many types of performance improvement objectives.

Some of the evaluation methods that HPT professionals currently use do not involve countable units, but instead rely on subjective estimations or perceptions (e.g., focus groups or rating scales). While such methods can provide valuable information to support certain types of decisions, their lack of standard countable units leaves them open to wide interpretation. Two recent examples outside of HPT dramatize this problem. The last U.S. Presidential election in Florida became a debate over whether or not election officials could make reliable decisions about voter intention based on dimpled chads and other equally fuzzy products of voting machines. The debate highlighted inherent problems with measurement techniques based on subjective decisions. The pairs figure skating competition in the 2002 Winter Olympics also involved judges making subjective decisions. Reversal of a tainted judgment revealed the potential for bias inherent in subjective rating scales. We can certainly debate whether to use such scales to make important funding and management decisions. But there is no debate that these methods are open to interpretation because they lack standard countable measurement units.

Because measurement counts, this column will focus on countable units of behavior, work output, or business results and how to use them. We’ll talk about ways to shift from more subjective methods to those based on countable units. We’ll solicit input from readers about countable units that they’ve found useful. Overall, we hope to stimulate vigorous discussion, provide a wealth of practical suggestions, and raise issues and topics to sharpen our field’s approach to measurement and decision-making about the effectiveness and efficiency of our interventions.

Dr. Carl Binder is a Senior Partner at Binder Riha Associates, a consulting firm that helps clients improve processes, performance, and behavior to deliver valuable results. His easy-to-remember email address is and his company’s website is



The International Society for Performance Improvement
(ISPI) has three special honorary awards that recognize outstanding individuals and organizations for their significant contributions to human performance technology (HPT) and to the Society itself. Those awards are the Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award, the Distinguished Service Award, and the Honorary Life Member Award. ISPI is pleased to announce this year’s recipients: Richard E. Clark, Timm J. Esque, and Wellesley R. “Rob” Foshay. The awards will be bestowed at the 2002 International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo in Dallas, Texas, April 21-25.


Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award
This award recognizes outstanding and significant contributions to the knowledge base of HPT. This year’s award went to Richard E. Clark.

Dr. Richard E. Clark has been a leading thinker, researcher, and mentor in the area of human performance technology for over 25 years. Since 1978, he has been Professor of Educational Psychology and Technology at the University of Southern California, where he developed and directs the only doctoral program in Human Performance at Work in the world. Richard has trained and mentored hundreds of professionals in the field.

As a researcher, he conducts studies that apply cognitive learning and motivation theory to the development of technology-based human performance improvement systems and analyzes studies concerning the use of newer media in training. He is the world’s most cited researcher in the area of media research design. His recent book, Learning from Media: Arguments, Analysis and Evidence, summarizes more than 30 years of theory and research in that area. The American Educational Research Association chose him as their official representative for research dealing with technology. Richard is also president of Atlantic Training, Inc., a company that provides performance support workshops and consulting for business and government organizations.

Richard currently serves as a consultant and contributing editor to 10 scholarly journals. In the past five years, he has given invited lectures and workshops on training and performance improvement in 18 nations. He has served as an advisor to diverse groups such as the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, the European Patent Office, the Ford Foundation, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Open University (Great Britain). His work is featured in many national and international publications including the U.S. News and World Report, Psychology Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The International Journal of Educational Research, and Harvard Magazine. He is an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 15, Educational Psychology) and is a Fellow of the Association of Applied Psychology and a Founding Fellow of the American Psychological Society.

Richard has authored more than 150 published books, book chapters, articles, and monographs. With titles such as Technology or Craft: What are we doing?, Snake Oil, Science and Performance Products, and The Science of Performance Improvement, he constantly challenges us as a profession to examine our practices and weed out those that, although intuitively appealing, are misconceived and ineffective. His next book, Turning Research into Results: A Guide to Selecting the Right Performance Solutions, will be available soon from the Center for Effective Performance Press.



Distinguished Service Award
This award recognizes outstanding and significant contributions to the betterment of ISPI on a long-term basis. This year’s award went to Timm J. Esque.

Timm J. Esque joined (then) NSPI in 1983. Since his affiliation with the organization began almost 20 years ago, he has held various offices within the local Arizona Chapter, including president, has participated on and chaired a number of ISPI committees (most recently the 2001 Nominations Committee), and has presented at each ISPI Annual Conference since 1994. In 1995-96, Timm served as a Regional Consultant for the Chapter Development Committee.

From January 1996 to October 2000, he wrote a regular column of essays in Performance Improvement journal that covered a variety of issues relating to the field of Human Performance Technology. In addition, he has had articles published in the Journal of Instructional Development, Training magazine, and two ASTD Training and Performance Yearbooks. In 1998, inspired by Carl Binder and Odgen Lindsley’s concern that ISPI was drifting from its focus on measured performance, Timm co-edited the book Getting Results which features a collection of case studies each with documented performance-oriented results. His latest book, Making an Impact: Building a Top-Performing Organization from the Bottom Up, received a 2002 ISPI Award of Excellence for Outstanding Instructional Communication.

Timm began his career in 1981 writing training objectives and collecting and analyzing data (and delivering packages) for a small consulting firm in the Phoenix area. He joined Intel Corporation in 1983 and held the positions of instructional designer, industrial engineer, and project manager. In 1993, Timm made the transition from training specialist to performance consultant, and during his last several years at Intel, specialized in helping product development teams get better products to market faster. Since 1998, Timm has been an independent performance consultant specializing in the set up of sustainable, effective performance systems for organizations, large projects, and teams.

He believes that measurable performance results are a part of the “center” of ISPI and has been helping promote documenting and sharing performance results over the past several years.



Honorary Life Member
This award recognizes outstanding and significant contributions to the field of HPT and the Society. It is not bestowed easily. It requires the unanimous vote of two consecutive ISPI Board of Directors, making it the Society’s most prestigious award. This year the Society honors Wellesley R. “Rob” Foshay.

Wellesley R. “Rob” Foshay, PhD has been a supporter of ISPI for most of his professional career. He has been an active volunteer, committee worker, leader, author, presenter, emissary, and ambassador for more than 25 years. He is highly skilled at making sense by putting seemingly random data together so they end up as useful information. He answers his email with facts, wisdom, and sometimes humor. He has applied what we refer to as the “technology” consistently in his work. He does what he says he’s going to do.

If you are unfamiliar with Rob, here are some specifics. He served on the ISPI Board of Directors (1995-97), chaired numerous committees (research, chapter partnership, conference track, and awards), and was a member of the presidential advisory committee. He has published more than 50 major journal articles, book chapters, and PLATO Technical Papers and serves as a consulting editor to three research journals. Rob was the recipient of ISPI’s 1995 Distinguished Service Award.

Rob is Corporate Vice President, Instructional Design and Quality Control, and a corporate officer of PLATO Learning, Inc., a publicly held, international training and education company. He was a founding member of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi) and served on the ASQ/ANSI working group, which developed ISO 9000 guidelines for quality management of education and training. Rob has received awards from Indiana University, ISPI, and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. His training includes a PhD in Instructional Development from Indiana University, a MA in Social Studies Education from Columbia University Teachers College, and a BA in Political Science from Oberlin College.

Rob falls into the category of substance instead of sizzle. Perhaps through some combination of good timing and skill at research, he has worked in situations where getting the facts mattered. He has always been generous with information, willing to explain the obtuse in ways that the Society and its members have benefited.



Researchers from Louisiana State University and the University of Louisville are conducting some research designed to learn more about the philosophy and values guiding HRD professionals, and how these values are related to various individual difference factors. If you would like to learn more and complete the anonymous online survey, which takes approximately 20 minutes, go to If asked for a code, use 1111.


The votes have been tallied,
and the following Candidates have been elected to serve as members of ISPI’s 2002-2003 Board of Directors.

Guy W. Wallace
Clare Elizabeth Carey
Jeanne Farrington

The following members of the 2001-2002 Board retain their seats: Jim Hill (who becomes President in April), Brian Desautels, Carol M. Panza, Mike Schwinn, and Richard Battaglia (ex officio). A special thanks goes out to the departing Board members: Judith Hill, Miki Lane, and Brenda Sugrue for their hard work and dedication to ISPI.




The Conference on Nuclear Training and Education
(CONTE) is holding an International Forum on August 18-21, 2002 at the Peabody Hotel/Conference Center in Orlando, Florida.

CONTE is dedicated to addressing the human resource needs of the Global Nuclear and related industries and recruitment, training, and human performance improvement of the future workforce are emphasized.

CONTE needs HPT content experts to submit proposals for presentation at the Forum. If you are interested in speaking, please visit


The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Awards of Excellence program is designed to showcase the people, products, innovations, and organizations that represent excellence in the field of instructional and Human Performance Technology.

Outstanding Human Performance Intervention

The Human Performance Intervention is a comprehensive award category recognizing outstanding human performance interventions.

ProManagement: Achieving Business Results through Human Performance
Nancy Green for Caterpillar Americas Services Company & Exemplary Performance Solutions, LLC

The ProManagement intervention helps Caterpillar Pan American Dealerships focus on performance, rather than just skill-building, as it systematically uncovers performance gaps, identifies the causes of those gaps, and generates solutions. The intervention utilizes EPS’ Total Performance Approach™ to link daily performance to business results. This ensures that employees are working on the right things to drive dealership success before investing in analysis and solutions. Current performance of those daily tasks is then analyzed to uncover skill deficiencies, inappropriate consequences, unclear expectations, and missing or inadequate tools and resources. Intervention results include improvements in productivity, profit after direct expenses, morale, proficiency, and commitment.

Ford Motor Company “On the Lane” (OTL) Performance Selling and Customer Handling
Claudette Trombley & Michael Mayer, Ford Motor Company; Barbara Bromley Reznor & Curt LaLonde, Carlson Marketing Group; Craig Pitt, Integrated Marketing Partners, Inc.; Lee Harkins, ATcon

The Ford Motor Company “On the Lane” (OTL) Performance Selling and Consumer Handling Performance Intervention uses a holistic approach to implement effective, consumer-focused point-of-sale and post-diagnostic selling processes in a Dealership Service Department setting. In addition to training Service Advisors, the intervention employs dealer financial incentives, four-level performance measures, and Service Management support to achieve performance improvement. To address declining consumer satisfaction and service sales, the Human Performance Intervention consists of four major areas: Dealer Incentive, Training, Sustainment, and Dealership Management Development and Support.

Sales Acceleration Team
Sun Microsystems

The Sun Microsystems Sales Acceleration Team (SAT) was formed in September 1990, with the mission to identify issues and obstacles inhibiting the productivity of the U.S. sales force, and to lead performance improvement activities on high-potential projects. Two specific projects, Sales Revenue Credit Assignment (SRCA) and Partner Sales Analysis (PSA), are described in detail. The SRCA project resulted in tangible annual savings of $1.5 million. The immediate results of the PSA project were the documentation of 18 processes for the first time and recommendations for high-payback executive actions. The overall result of the SAT effort was the authorization to expand the concept to cover Sun's worldwide sales activities.


Outstanding Performance Aid
This award recognizes results achieved through the design and implementation of an intervention used on the job to assist the performer in accomplishing a task.

CD-ROM-based Performance Support Tool
Marcel Ouellet, Louise Leone, & Charles Normandeau, Imperial Oil Limited; Gina Walker, Valerie Quirk, and Victor Aronoff, Harold D. Stolovitch & Associates, Ltd.

Stay Ahead of the Game is a post-training performance support tool in CD-ROM and floppy disk format that allows retailers to retest their knowledge of facilities management and to access resources and references required to perform this aspect of their jobs. The CD-ROM was designed with an interactive format, which allows the user to test his or her knowledge of facilities management in a fun yet challenging way. The Retailer Facility Management Manual (RFMM) is also included on the CD-ROM and is linked to the self-test activities for reference purposes, which provides quick and easy access to the company’s standards and best practices. In addition, the program includes two 5 1/2" floppy disks, which contain task lists, site inspection forms, and log forms that can be customized to each site.

Outstanding Instructional Product or Intervention
This award recognizes outstanding results derived from instructional products and interventions developed through systematic approaches to human performance problems, needs, or opportunities.

Compaq EVO™ D300v Service and Maintenance Web-Based Training (WBT)
Compaq Computer, Development Team (listed alphabetically): Greg Herr, Project Evaluator; Alice Jacobson, Training Program Manager; Chuck Julian, WBT Developer; Ray Laurencelle, Graphic Designer; Mary Roche, IPS Program Manager; Jim Syiek, WBT Developer; & Sandi Williams, Project Leader

The Compaq Evo™ D300v Service and Maintenance WBT provides field service and call center engineers with information needed to service and support the Compaq Evo™ D300v desktop personal computer. The course describes standard configurations, features, and options; it also and provides technical instruction on diagnosing and troubleshooting.

  • Narrated videos demonstrate the installation and removal of field-replaceable components.
  • The animated Parts Locator allows learners to manipulate a three-dimensional graphic model of the computer.
  • A detailed Teardown Lab provides step-by-step instructions for disassembling and reassembling the machine.

Videos and animated graphics not only enhance the learning experience and maximize the transfer of training but also serve an important performance support function. Because the training is web-based, engineers on service calls can access it via the Internet and obtain critical information when and where it is needed most.

Integration Curriculum Training Program
TD Canada Trust, Learning & Development

Integration Curriculum Training Program describes the processes used to plan, assess needs and performance gaps, design, develop, implement, and measure outcomes of a training initiative in support of merging two large financial institutions. The training helped prepare 23,000 employees, from coast to coast (in 30 different job functions), to be confident and competent, provide a comfortable customer experience, while implementing two new sales and service systems, and a new suite of products.

The initiative blended training solutions that involved the use of online and paper-based training and job support materials, with on-site coaching, regional and site training leads, and buddy branches.

Employees’ feedback:

  • 95% confident they could apply new skills
  • 90% able to apply new skills on the job as a result of the training

Business results during integration:

  • 21 basis points market share increase
  • 2% increase in Customer Satisfaction Index

Outstanding Instructional Communication
This award recognizes an outstanding communication that enables individuals or organizations to achieve excellence in human performance technology.

5-Star Sales Training for Helzberg Diamonds
Contributors: Stacey N. Lewis, Helzberg Diamonds Corporate Training; Beth Childs & Marilyn Spatz, Creative Courseware; Diana Vansickle, Dan Echart, & Tim Wissmann, River’s Edge Studio

The 5-Star Sales Training Program illustrates a successful transition in Helzberg Diamonds’ training from a content-heavy, knowledge-based training program to an adaptable performance improvement tool. 5-Star Sales Training achieves measurable, bottom-line results company-wide by improving Sales Associate performance in the challenging learning environment of a retail store.

Content, structure, and format provide the flexibility required to meet the training needs of all Sales Associates, both new and experienced.

Content: Learning model includes a built-in assessment method allowing managers to quickly and accurately determine results.

Structure: Consistent use of the 5-Star Sales Process on four successive levels of skill—Orientation, Foundation, Achievement, and Excellence—provides organization for the program.

Format: Easy-to-use card format allows flexible implementation for managers and associates.

America’s Kids Connect 2000
Paul Ridgeway, Founder, & Chris Bates, Executive Director, America’s Kids Connect; V. Karen Miller, Instructional Design Consortium

It is time to re-think about online events as replicable models for engaging learners. America’s Kids Connect 2000 was a Presidential Trivia game that over 720,000 students, parents, and educators played in an 18-hour period, jointly developed by two technology teams located in Minneapolis, MN and Houston, TX. Students from Eagan High School, Eagan, MN were responsible for designing and producing the 30-minute show distributed via local cable and the Internet. Local and national political leaders appeared as guest moderators. Over $3.2 million in technology prizes was distributed to 125 schools in 35 states across the United States.

Conquering Organizational Change: How to Succeed Where Most Companies Fail
by Pierre Mourier and Martin Smith, PhD
CEP Press

With a failure rate of over 70%, organizational change is a daunting prospect for everyone involved—from the training and performance improvement professionals responsible for implementing change to the employees whose jobs will be affected. However, large-scale change efforts can be successful, and they can prove instrumental in helping organizations achieve their strategic business goals. Conquering Organizational Change, by Pierre Mourier and Martin Smith, PhD, is an invaluable tool in making such success a possibility. Based on exhaustive research, the book provides practical advice on what to expect and, more importantly, what to do when approaching a change project.

The Business of Winning: How to Build a Championship Team at Work
by Robert Evangelista
CEP Press

Team building is an often-overlooked area of human performance. Yet effective teamwork plays a critical role in helping organizations achieve their strategic business goals. The Business of Winning draws parallels between the sports world and the business world, offering a fun, practical, and highly effective way for managers to coach their work teams to success. The book includes four easy-to-follow tools designed to help managers maximize the competitive advantages of human performance at a team level. In the fast-paced, global environment of today’s business, such an advantage is invaluable.

Making an Impact: Building a Top-Performing Organization from the Bottom Up
by Timm J. Esque
CEP Press

One of the greatest challenges facing training and performance improvement professionals is the sustainability of the solutions they implement on their clients’ behalf. Because of the ever-changing business world, their solutions rarely eliminate the clients’ performance problems entirely—the problems may subside temporarily, or change form, but rarely do they vanish completely. Making an Impact, by Timm J. Esque, offers a viable alternative to conventional performance consulting—a Self-Sustaining Performance System. This innovative approach provides performance improvement specialists guidance on how to implement a system that allows the organization itself to monitor and adjust its own performance.

Creating Evaluation Instruments to Predict Behavior Transfer: A New Theory and Measures in Training Evaluation
Mary L. Lanigan, PhD

The author of Creating Evaluation Instruments to Predict Behavior Transfer: A New Theory and Measures in Training Evaluation introduces a new training evaluation model and measurement tools that predict whether trainees will transfer their skills from training to the job. Readers learn how to create: reactionnaires and self-efficacy instruments that collect useful data and predict behavior transfer; external control measures that illustrate environmental problems preventing trainees from transferring behavior; attitudinal measures that contribute to behavior transfer, subjective norms instruments that measure supervisor support; behavioral intentions and actual behavior instruments; and, return-on-investment calculations.

Beyond the Podium: Delivering Training and Performance to a Digital World
Allison Rossett & Kendra Sheldon

The digital age is infiltrating the training profession faster than most of us can stay breast of it. In Beyond the Podium, get you up to speed on the new directions in training and development while also refreshing your understanding of the fundamentals. The book examines the opportunities presented by e-learning, informal learning, independent learning, knowledge management, globalization, object-oriented design, wireless technologies, and more, while revisiting what makes great training, how to do an analysis, and evaluation strategies and tools. Beyond the Podium redefines the nature and function of training and trainers by offering:

  • A tour of the possibilities: The effect of e-business on training and development, new learning theories, what knowledge management is and how it applies to training.
  • A guide to professional development: Every chapter presents references, examples of presentation slides, experts’ favored resources, and resources.
  • Answers to questions: How is my job going to change? How might my unit think about its strategy and value differently?

Chapters of Merit

Chapter awards celebrate the accomplishments of local ISPI Chapters. The awards emphasize accomplishments rather than competition of the Chapters.

Outstanding Communication Product
This award is given to chapters whose communication vehicles support their objectives and strategic plan.

ISPI Chicago Chapter
CISPI reinvented its newsletter and website to better provide members with HPT and ISD content and current and accurate information on events. The changes included reducing newsletter publication to bi-monthly, while improving on-time delivery and increasing content from 8 to 24 pages across more than 10 regular columns and features. The website was expanded to include more than 85% new content and is kept current through scheduled monthly updates, resulting in more than 30 hits per day.

The above were achieved by building a dedicated volunteer team, defining and segmenting tasks, and by dedicated planning and management. The membership has clearly noticed.

Chapter of Excellence
The award is given to chapters that fulfill rigorous standards of excellence.

ISPI Golden Circle Chapter
Contributing individuals: Dan Topf, Awards Chair & Penny Thompson, Assistant Awards Chair

Five years ago, the Golden Circle Chapter of ISPI was founded in Des Moines, Iowa. To lend credibility to our chapter we decided to make yet another submission for the Chapter of Excellence Award. At first it seemed like quite a bit of work, but since we’d been awarded Chapter of Excellence last year, we knew how to handle it. After reviewing the criteria again, we found them to be a good framework in which to take our chapter to the next level. In essence it helped us to strengthen our chapter and become a better organization for our members. It took us two years to achieve the goal and now we have strong guidelines and procedures in place in which to operate. The criteria established by International helped us grow and make the changes necessary to continue to be a successful chapter.

Outstanding Educational Program
This award is given to chapters that spread the performance improvement message to others in academic and non-academic settings.

ISPI New Mexico Chapter, Pushing Peak Performance: Strategies and Practices
Contributing individuals: Michelle Fromm-Lewis & Jodi Case, Workshop Committee Co-Chairs, & Cheryl Lackie, 2001 Chapter President

The New Mexico Chapter’s Winter Workshop 2001 was a special educational event for chapter members and others in the performance improvement and training community. The event took place on February 22-23, 2001. Gretchen Gemeinhardt, representing the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) presented Best Practices of Fortune 500 Companies, and Jay Phipps and Karla Shireman presented Engaging Every Learning Style: Applying the Experiential Learning Cycle Model.

Hall of Fame
To achieve Chapter Hall of Fame status, a chapter must receive an award of excellence for three (3) consecutive years in one of the following categories: Chapter of Excellence and/or Distinguished Chapter.

ISPI Michigan Chapter

2003 ISPI Awards of Excellence Program
Submission guidelines for ISPI’s 2003 Award of Excellence program will be available in July 2002 on the ISPI website: Actual submissions will be due in late October 2002.



The International Society for Performance Improvement
(ISPI) is pleased to announce the schedule for the 2002 Research Grant Program. Proposals are due June 3, 2002, and awards will be announced September 3, 2002. ISPI is interested in awarding grants for research related to performance technology. Such research may include, but is not limited to, investigations that contribute to the understanding, discovery, application, and/or validation of performance technology principles, theoretical underpinnings, and/or practices. ISPI anticipates multiple awards, ranging from $2,000 to $9,000. Further information about the Research Grant Program and the format for submitting a research proposal is available at




ISPI is looking for Human Performance Technology (HPT) articles (approximately 500 words and not previously published) for PerformanceXpress that bridge the gap from research to practice (please, no product or service promotion is permitted). Below are a few examples of the article formats that can be used:

  • Short “I wish I had thought of that” Articles
  • Practical Application Articles
  • The Application of HPT
  • Success Stories

In addition to the article, please include a short bio (2-3 lines) and a contact email address. All submissions should be sent to Each article will be reviewed by one of ISPI’s on-staff HPT experts, and the author will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any further questions, please contact



Go to printer-friendly version of this issue.

Feel free to forward ISPI’s PerformanceXpress newsletter to your colleagues or anyone you think may benefit from the information. If you are reading someone else’s PerformanceXpress, send your complete contact information to, and you will be added to the PerformanceXpress emailing list.

PerformanceXpress (formerly News & Notes and Quick Read) is an ISPI member benefit designed to build community, stimulate discussion, and keep you informed of the Society’s activities and events. This newsletter is published monthly and will be emailed to you at the beginning of each month.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact April Davis, ISPI’s Director of Periodicals, at


1400 Spring Street, Suite 260
Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA
Phone: 1.301.587.8570
Fax: 1.301.587.8573