by Judith Hale, PhD, CPT

There are a lot of books on evaluation and most of them are good. So why did I add yet another to the list? There are two main reasons. One is philosophical and the other is evangelical.

Philosophically, I believe trainers and consultants have done themselves a disservice by assuming responsibility for evaluation. How do we prove ROI or assure transfer of learning to the job? It’s not our job and our insisting that it is only contributes to pervasive practice of absolving management of its responsibilities. Yes, we are responsible for the integrity of our work and products; however, the client must share the accountability for results. Therefore, I believed there was a need for a book that focused more on how to collaborate with clients to confirm the need, define the desired outcomes, and measure the results.

On those days when my sarcasm is running rampant, I’d say managers couldn’t recognize performance if it wore a neon sign. Of course this isn’t true. What is true is that many managers need help defining, recognizing, communicating, and measuring performance. It is our job to provide the tools and rules that help them. Managers also want help articulating their expectations in ways that are useful to workers. Again, our job is to help them express work requirements in ways that can be used to design curricula and performance support tools, and measure performance. When we do our job well, workers and managers have the measures they require to self-monitor work results. Therefore, I took special care to describe how we might work in partnership with our clients to measure the things that are important and to the level of precision that is useful.

On the evangelical side, I like evaluation and want others to share my enthusiasm. I love developing tools that help others gain clarity and self-sufficiency and this is the essence of good training. Yet, I’ve been appalled by the lack of understanding of the basics of measurement and the lack of rigor by trainers and instructional designers. Good measurement begins with knowing how to get valid information. In all fairness, the information is hard to come by. My two semesters of statistics in graduate school were useless. Yes, there are a lot of books but it is labor intensive, and sometimes even punishing to extract the principles, rules, and guidelines required to do our jobs well. So I wanted a book that modeled a thinking process based on inquiry—ask and verify. I tried to look at measurement from the perspective of the client—we convey technical information and teach others to follow procedures. We explain why people should exhibit some behaviors and not others. I wanted to make explicit that a lot of what we do is driven by beliefs that may not be grounded in facts, and I wanted to provide useful rules for how to get good data and then how to interpret it.

I had a lot of help writing the book by people who read it while it was being written. Their comments were valuable. They pushed me to be more specific, to spell out the “how’s and how to’s.” They also contributed the stories, real situations of measurement being done well and not so well. I hope you find the stories, tools, and tips clarifying and useful.

Judith Hale, PhD, CPT, has been a consultant to management for over 25 years. She designs, conducts, and partners with clients on projects involving alignment, strategic planning, performance improvement, and certification. Her new book Performance-Based Evaluation: Tools and Techniques to Measure the Impact of Training is available to members for $45.00 through the ISPI Bookstore. Judy may be reached at


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  When we do our job well, workers and managers have the measures they require to self-monitor work results.

by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, CPT

This month, we talked with Mark Johnson of TheUnderstandingBusiness, a firm that makes complex information clear, memorable, and useful. He may be reached at Mark tells us that he is seeing different kinds of projects these days, reflecting new trends in the world of work.

Significant Trends
First, due to the slow or maybe non-existent economic recovery, organizations are looking hard at how they can increase productivity and results working with their available time and employees. They are actively searching for the most cost-effective path to results and are giving their workers permission to find this path for themselves. Their motto continues to be “doing more with less.”

To support the need for increased productivity and results, the old marketing mantra, “know your customer” has taken on new meaning. The ability of organizations to know their customers well enough to predict their needs and future buying habits has spawned sophisticated data mining and tracking systems that analyze demographics, diversity, and a host of other distinguishing characteristics all in the name of user advocacy.

These three trends: increasing productivity, taking the most cost-effective path, and user advocacy combined have encouraged increased independence for workers and a renewed focus on results.

Causes of These Trends
The economy is at the heart of the changes we’re seeing in the race to increase productivity. In these belt-tightened times, senior management has recognized the significance of the three P’s: Profitability, Performance, and Productivity.

To reach and maintain profitability today requires increased efficiency. Performance is tied to the individual worker and is significantly affected by the personal stress and information overload so common these days. Productivity may finally be coming into its own, as time becomes a key metric, and letting workers solve problems in the most efficient way enables them to produce the desired results. The key to the three P’s is the creation of multiple paths. That is, creating systems that allow each worker to develop his/her own most efficient route to save time and achieve results.

Impact of These Trends
HPTers can take this opportunity to move to a higher level in our work with a more holistic approach. We can retrain ourselves to be generalists who think in the context of performance improvement rather than in our functional or industry specialty. We can move from a tactical/delivery mode to a strategic mode.

As practitioners, the current work climate presents us with opportunities to visibly link performance to organizational goals. For example, we can build scalable programs that allow participants to self-direct (choose their own path) and eliminate information they already know or do not need in order to get to full productivity more quickly.

We can start with the business entity and the customer and use the discipline of HPT in our organizations. If we can relate performance improvement initiatives to business metrics and move from a transaction orientation to a business orientation, we will successfully integrate performance improvement, customers, and the business. We will have helped the client help himself.

If you have any suggestions about 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 Dale Brethower and Karolyn Smalley

Why do we advocate Performance-Based Instruction? Performance-based instruction helps assure that training changes on-the-job performance and assures that the changes benefit the organization.

Assuring that Change Is Improvement
Performance-based instruction focuses on critical business issues. A critical business issue is an issue identified during strategic planning or operational goal setting as something that must be accomplished to assure the continued viability or growth of the organization. Critical business issues are often stated quantitatively, e.g., reduce time to market for new products from 2 years to 2 months, increase retention of key customers from 50% per year to 90% per year, reducing costs by $4 million over 2 years. If it is a critical issue, managers can specify how they will measure success or failure. The measures will be at Level IV (Level V, if you use a five-tier approach).

Assuring that Training Receives Management Support
Focusing on a critical business issue, by itself, does not assure management support. Critical business issues attract budget requests in which a manager asserts that the business objective will be reached if and only if the request is supported. The support for training will compete for other budget dollars. The trainer must make a business case for the training. The trainer’s case will not always be fully budgeted but, once budgeted, management support will be there—if the trainer focuses on delivering necessary performance and works closely with operational managers. (A quote from a performance-based instruction trainer: “When delivery services managers discovered that the trainers were going to focus on teaching new hires the work processes, outputs, and standards, they became very supportive.”)

How does performance-based instruction differ from other instruction? Performance-based instruction differs in four major ways.

1. Objectives.
Objectives are related to critical business issues and specified in terms of work performance (“Use customer data to enter claim information.” “ Use customer data to write accurate insurance quotes.”). Objectives are established with supervisors and exemplary performers, not subject matter experts.

2. Instructional Methods.
More time is devoted to practice with feedback and coaching than to presentation. Learners begin with careful observation as tasks are demonstrated, move on to guided practice with coaching, and finally, demonstrate proficiency with work-like tasks. (“Seeing the learners do seven quotes on the first day was awesome! As compared to struggling through one quote on day six.”)

3. Standards of Achievement.
Proficiency is demonstrated both during training (making quotes accurately) and in the workplace (making quotes accurately and rapidly). Sometimes the proficiency standard, during training, is accuracy; speed is attained on the job with support from the trainer or specially trained coaches.

4. Evaluation.
Level III and Level IV evaluation are routine. Level II evaluation measures are essentially the same as Level III measures. (A Level II measure is accuracy of quotes done during training; the Level III measure is number and accuracy of quotes on the job.) Level I measures are likely to be carried out in the workplace and include ratings from supervisors and/or peers.

Dale Brethower is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Western Michigan University. One of the pioneers of HPT, he was the 1999-2000 President of the International Society for Performance Improvement. He may be reached at

Karolyn Smalley is a Performance and Instructional Systems Consultant who helps improve performance at the organization, process, and job level for both large and small organizations. She has enabled clients to convert traditional training to performance-based instruction reducing delivery time by 30% while significantly increasing performer competence. Karolyn may be reached at

Their book Performance-Based Instruction: Linking Training to Business Results is available to members for $45.00 through the ISPI Bookstore. Order your copy today!


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ISPI’s “games guy” and QBInternational’s Resident Mad Scientist (aka Director of Research and Development) Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan has created another interactive game designed especially for the readers of PerformanceXpress.

As a performance improvement professional, you know all about selecting, designing, and implementing different types of interventions to improve human performance. There are many complex and convoluted models for classifying interventions, but we like the simple three-category system of improving skills and knowledge, improving motivation, and improving the environment. Play the Interventions game by visiting:

You will find the three categories listed on the right side of the screen with different statements popping up on the left side. Read each statement and click on the category that is most closely associated with the statement. To add to your excitement, you are operating under a time limit and your scores are continuously displayed. Remember, you can play this addictive game repeatedly. Each time you play, you may see different statements presented in a different sequence. To add more excitement, you can choose a higher difficulty level (which will decrease your available time). Before you know it, you will become so fluent with HPT interventions that everybody will be impressed.



by Clare Elizabeth Carey, CPT, Director

As the new Board liaison to the Chapter Partnership Committee
(CPC), it is only appropriate that I highlight the global development of our chapters and give praise to the enthusiastic contributions of our CPC members and their Chair, Dan Topf.

Our 68 chapters represent diverse regions, languages, and compositions. The use of technology combined with the strategic leadership of our Committee members has increased the level of sophistication in which our chapters communicate, network, and share resources. Within two clicks on the ISPI website, you will find contact information for local chapters, listings of local area events, and highlights of the Chapter Partnership Committee. Several trends emerge. Chapter events are drawing “big” names. In just a quick skim of current local events, you will find an impressive menu of ISPI Masters sharing their expertise throughout the USA and across the globe. Just think of the HPT power being generated with presentations from Geary Rummler, Eileen Mager, Timm Esque, Harold Stolovitch, Jim Hill, Ruth Clark, Thiagi, Don Tosti (and the list goes on)! ISPI Masters are famous for their commitment and generosity to local chapters in promoting the practice of HPT. And all a local chapter needs to do…is ask!

Our chapters are becoming increasingly efficient and creative. By holding regional conferences, chapters are able to pool their resources, attract larger audiences for their keynote presenters, and increase the scope of their professional networking. The highly successful EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) conference in the Netherlands was featured in August PerformanceXpress. In October, ISPI chapters in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania will host a North East Regional Conference. These regional events benefit both local members and our International Society. Often, exposure to a regional conference entices new members to attend ISPI’s Annual Conference.

The networking among our chapters continues to exceed expectations. The positive interaction among Headquarters staff, the ISPI Board of Directors, and the CPC has resulted in the sharing of resources and the reduction of redundancy. Chapters do not have to reinvent the wheel in search of solutions or products. The Committee fosters the sharing of ideas and facilitates the exchange of materials.

Currently, the CPC is working diligently on the design of the 2003 Chapter Leaders Workshop. This forum addresses the administrative needs of new and experienced ISPI chapter leaders and fosters the development of lasting relationships. Through engaging presentations and passionate discussions, the participants generate ideas on how chapters may leverage their resources, implement best practices, and clarify local perspectives.

For many of us, chapters represent the “heart” of our Society. Our first encounter with ISPI occurred at a local chapter. We learned about human performance technology as a profession, practiced new techniques, tested new technologies, and developed our skills. During chapter meetings, we expanded our professional network and enjoyed “up close and personal” encounters with HPT experts. Many of us honed our leadership, organizational, and strategic planning abilities by serving as chapter officers. Our participation at the local level became the springboard for our involvement at the International level. I am pleased to report this evolution remains true today.

NOTE: The charter of the Chapter Partnership Committee is to determine the strategic direction, placement, and function of chapters and their resources within the International Society and to recommend to the Board of Directors avenues the Society might pursue.



The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is currently searching for an editor(s) interested in developing a new book to serve as a companion for the very successful Handbook of Human Performance Technology that was so professionally edited in two editions by Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps.

The new HPT Handbook will be published by ISPI and Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer and has the working title of Handbook of Performance Improvement Strategies. This is a very substantial undertaking that we envision will take approximately 30 months to complete. Funds are available for expenses related to the development of the book.

Please contact Roger Chevalier, ISPI Director of Information, at or 707.584.7160 for more information about this opportunity.


Join your colleagues
for Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design, September 26-28, 2002, Chicago, IL, a conference devoted to the latest models, methods, and tools for the design of learning. You will take away valuable hands-on solutions to your most critical challenges in Instructional Systems Design, and will return to your employer or clients with the tools needed to improve performance and deliver success.

Keynote Address
Dr. Allison Rossett delivers the keynote address, entitled The Sweet Spot: Where ISD, Performance and E-Learning Come Together. Is e-Learning the answer to training needs? Can it possibly fulfill its great promise? Not, Rossett believes, without performance technology, and not without ISD. Rossett, Professor of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, is editor of the ASTD E-Learning Handbook: Best Practices, Strategies and Case Studies for an Emerging Field (2002).

Masters Series
Our Masters Series presenters are Dr. Brenda Sugrue and Dr. Darryl Sink. Dr. Sugrue will describe and illustrate a variety of strategies for increasing learning and performance improvement outcomes from e-Learning. These include strategies for online learning by doing, integrated performance support, and building communities of practice.

Dr. Sink suggests viable alternatives or modifications to the “traditional” ISD process that make it more efficient, flexible, and appropriate for performance-based, results driven environments. Sink will highlight positive changes in the practice of instructional design and development by exploring how “master” instructional designers approach the ISD process.

Concurrent Sessions
Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design will also feature some 30 concurrent sessions by Carl Binder, Marilyn Gilbert, Ken Silber, Rob Foshay, Lynn Kearny, Judith Hale, Chuck Barritt, William Coscarelli, Sharon Shrock, Peter R. Hybert, and others, as well as a special conversation with Don Tosti and Geary Rummler.

One-day Workshops
The conference is preceeded by full-day workshops offered on Wednesday, September 25. The workshops are Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training, with Dr. Tom Welsh, PhD, Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.; E-Learning & The Science of Instruction: Guidelines for the Selection and Design of e-Learning, with Ruth Colvin Clark, EdD, President, Clark Training; and Looking at Performance through Business Glasses: Linking ISD to Business Results, with Lynn Kearny, Human Performance Management and Kenneth H. Silber, PhD, Associate Professor, Educational Technology Research and Assessment, Northern Illinois University.

The conference and workshops are designed to provide you with new knowledge and insights, a plethora of useful performance tools, and valuable new contacts with experts and peers. For additional information on the conference visit, Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design.


by Carl Binder

I’ve received a number of emails from readers asking questions such as “How can I be sure I’m measuring the right things,” and “How can I determine whether training is having an effect on what management values.” It occurs to me that the questioners might not be aware of some basic principles of the Human Performance Technology (HPT) approach that underpin most of what appears in this column. So let’s return to some basics.

Our measurement approach is founded on the earthquake-like shift attributed to Thomas F. Gilbert (1978) that redirected our focus from behavior to the accomplishments, or products, of behavior. Gilbert stressed that it is the accomplishments produced by individuals, groups, or processes that have value in organizations, not merely their behavior. In fact, he continued, behavior is costly. Our goal should be to produce the greatest possible quantity and quality of accomplishments at the lowest cost. A worthy intervention, he said, is one that produces accomplishments more valuable than the cost of the behavior to produce them.

This accomplishment-based approach—refined and extended by Harless, Rummler, and others—sets the stage for a simple model that can drive how we measure. If our goal is to produce business or organizational results (sales revenues, cost reductions, profits, etc.), then our front-end analyses should focus first on the individual and group accomplishments that contribute to those results. Once we have identified those valuable accomplishments, and perhaps identified the individuals or groups who produce them most cost-effectively, only then should we drill down to the behaviors that produce them, and finally to the various influences on those behaviors (tools, skills, knowledge, etc.).



Job Outputs

  • Training
  • Job aids
  • Incentives
  • Feedback
  • Ergonomics
  • Tools
  • Coaching
  • Goal-setting
  • Job design
  • Documents
  • Etc.
  • Explaining
  • Asking
  • Deciding
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Finding information
  • Etc.
  • Proposals
  • Problems solved
  • Satisfied customers
  • Buying decisions
  • Signed contracts
  • Repaired equipment
  • Etc.
  • Productivity
  • Profits
  • Market share
  • Revenues
  • Product sales
  • Cycle time
  • ROI
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Etc.

Given the above, what can we measure? And how can we relate the effects of our interventions to the results that management values? The answers to these questions should be clearer now. To measure, we look for things to count. This model gives us lots of things to count. It also supports the view that we should begin to measure during the front-end or needs analysis phase, when we’re first identifying the organizational results, accomplishments, and behavior we want to improve.

We can certainly count business results. That’s what managers and accountants already do. We can count dollars in various categories, time to market, numbers of customers who rate our company’s service at various levels, etc. This is fairly easy because the business people have already figured a lot of it out. A possible glitch is that they might not always be able to capture the needed data (e.g., sales revenues by individual sales rep for each product). On the other hand, if knowing whether their investments are paying off is important, they might be willing to go the extra mile to capture the needed numbers.

We can also count accomplishments. Widgets, calls handled, deadlines met on time, customer or supervisory interactions that meet specific criteria—these are all countable things. For more ideas about how to turn Gilbert’s “requirements” into countable units, see Binder (2001).

Finally, we should be able to count behavior during training, on the job, or in high-fidelity simulations, using various types of sampling methods. We can count specific behaviors in customer interactions (or simulations), count per minute of correct and incorrect responses on multiple choice tests, and keystrokes per minute using software applications. The key here is to include a time dimension, and to avoid using percentage correct—which is not a measure of performance but a “dimensionless quantity.”

Once we identify ways to count business results, accomplishments, and behavior, we are well on our way to being able to detect whether, for example, our interventions actually increase desired behavior, produce more or better accomplishments, or ultimately contribute to business results.

Does this help? Let me hear from you with comments and questions.

Binder, C. (2001). Measurement: A few important ideas. Performance Improvement, 40(3), 20-28.

Gilbert, Thomas F. (1978, re-published in 1996). Human competence: Engineering worthy performance. Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement.

Related Reading
Binder, C. (April 2002). Measurement counts! The dangers of percent. PerformanceXpress.

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 e-mail address is and his company’s website is


  A worthy intervention, Gilbert said, is one
that produces accomplishments more valuable than the cost of the behavior to produce them.

by Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan, CPT

I have been a trainer, facilitator, teacher, and storyteller all my life, ever since I was seven years old.

This is the one important lesson that I learned during my six decades of work as a facilitator: Learning is a social process. You need to interact with other human beings in order to learn efficiently, effectively, and enjoyably. As a trainer or a facilitator, you must require and encourage people-to-people interaction among participants.

My preferred learning environment is a face-to-face classroom. However, I have worked with mediated instructional materials of different kinds: print, audiovisual slide sets, video, and computers. With all of these media, I have incorporated people-to-people interaction. Even my “self-instructional” programmed materials were designed to be used by a team of learners rather than by individuals.

I did my first computer-based training program in 1969, using a teletype terminal and punched paper tape. The topic was a magic trick. My latest project involves designing a web-based playground to accompany technical training.

We are all migrating to the web. Even if we discount half the hype, there are many compelling reasons why managers, trainers, and participants will increasingly use online learning. Our learners from the Nintendo generation will have no problem embracing the new mode of learning. Decisionmakers are persuaded by spurious economic arguments to jump on the online learning bandwagon. As trainers and facilitators, we are caught in the middle. We cannot fight the trend.

Actually, I am excited about going online. Here are the reasons for my excitement and optimism:

As long as we focus on the “learning” part of “online learning”, we can shift the focus from the technology to learning outcomes. Online learning “experts” have no clue about instructional design. Unless we jump in and insist on quality of learning outcomes being treated as the most important criterion, we will not have any positive influence on this trend. Electronic technology provides a tool for effective participation. We can encourage and require people-to-people interaction in our online courses. The future trend is toward blended learning. We can blend high-touch learning segments with high-tech approaches. There are as many different types of web-based learning as there are types of face-to-face learning. Online learning does not have to be solitary confinement with textbooks, lectures, and CBT lessons being delivered on the Internet. You can have a variety of collaborative learning approaches. You don’t have to invest enormous amounts of money to acquire an infrastructure. You can conduct collaborative learning experiences at zero cost through email and user groups. Let’s join the revolution and demonstrate that true interaction goes beyond moving the mouse around.

NOTE: Reprinted with permission from QB International’s online newsletter Play for Performance.


  Even if we discount half the hype, there are many compelling reasons why managers, trainers, and participants will increasingly use online learning.

by Todd Packer

Quick review: For this column, I hope to locate off-the-beaten path websites that can help you find similar thinkers, resources, work, new ideas, and sometimes just plain old fun.

Each month, I will highlight three sites connected by a general theme. While far from comprehensive, hopefully these sites will spark readers to look further and expand views about human performance technology (HPT). Please keep in mind that any listing is for informational purposes only and does not indicate an endorsement either by myself or the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI).

These are the general categories I will use for the sites featured:

  • E-Klatch: Links to professional associations, research, and resources that can help refine and expand our views of HPT through connections with other professionals and current trends.
  • HPT@work: Links to job listings, career development, volunteer opportunities, and other resources for applying your individual skills.
  • I-Candy: Links to sites that are thought provoking, enjoyable, and refreshing to help manage the stresses and identify new ideas for HPT.

The theme for this column is Measurement. Outcomes and opportunities, performance and pride. The work of HPT professionals centers on measurement to assess improvement, analyze gaps, and achieve constructive change. Here are some sites that measure up.

Performance improvement (PI) professionals have unique measurement methods and approaches, so where can we find HPT-like minds? PerformanceXpress reader Roger Addison alerts us to the Performance Improvement in Healthcare website. If you need to explain PI to others, check out the “PI FAQ.” Of note to ISPI members, visitors with “PI lessons-learned summaries and tools” are invited to submit material to the site. is designed to provide information, tools, and guidelines for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating performance improvement processes and activities in health services delivery organizations. This website is a service of the Performance Improvement Consultative Group (PICG) and is financed by the United States Agency for International Development.

For measuring opportunities for employment, stop by The Riley Guide. With links to salary surveys, interview tips, and job listings, this comprehensive directory can give you valuable data for your career. HPT employment seekers may be interested in particular in job listings for Human Resources & Development, Education & Instruction, and Engineering & Mathematics to supplement the resources available through ISPI’s Job Bank., created by Margaret F. Dikel, MSLIS, Internet Consultant for Employment, Recruiting, and Career Transition Services, The Riley Guide “is a directory of employment and career information sources and services on the Internet. It is primarily intended to provide instruction for job seekers on how to use the Internet to their best advantage, but recruiters and other career service industry professional will find information here to help them also.”

Who says math is boring? For an intriguing and beautiful view of numbers crunched and presented, visit the electronic journal Visual Mathematics. Sophisticated mathematical papers are combined with dramatic, colorful images. Click on MathArt for fascinating pictures. For those comfortable with mathematical formulae, they do have a “Call for Papers.” If it gets a little heady, “Take three dodecahedra and some rhombohedra and make a triacontahedron” (from Hafner, I. & Zitko, T. (2002). Introduction to golden rhombic polyhedra. Visual Mathematics, 4(2). email me in the morning!

Visual Mathematics is the electronic quarterly of the ISIS-Symmetry (International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry), published by the Mathematical Institute, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

NOTE: Listings above are for informational purposes only, and do not indicate an endorsement either by Todd Packer or ISPI.

Todd Packer is an independent consultant providing research, coaching, writing, and training in organizational development, creative problem-solving, and stress management. He seeks to improve performance through dynamic new approaches to research and creativity at work. Please contact Todd with your feedback, comments, and ideas at For more information, visit



by Terrence Gargiulo

We communicate, think, and learn through stories.
Stories come in all different forms including personal experiences, anecdotes, metaphors, analogies, or jokes. The guiding rule for using stories in trainings or workshops is to be sensitive to the group. By staying tuned in to the group’s ever-changing needs, you will be able to find the right stories to tell at the right time, elicit group member’s stories, and increase learning.

Here are some ideas on how to get started:

1. Answer people’s questions with a story.
Questions are good. It means people are thinking. Get people to draw parallels between the story you tell and the questions they are asking. Provide analysis and insights about the story when people become stuck.

2. Elicit stories from the group.
Try to tie people’s comments together. Ask them to be specific and give examples. They will end up sharing personal experiences in the form of stories. Synthesize their comments with their experiences to make new points and to reinforce previous ones.

3. Use a metaphor or analogy.
Help people to visualize the idea or concept you are trying to explain by applying a metaphor or analogy from another domain. After you provide one, ask them to think of another one. This solidifies the concept for them and gives them confidence. It also allows you to make sure they have grasped the concept.

4. Tell a story to change the group’s energy.
There are natural ebbs and flows to a group’s energy. A story can stimulate and revitalize a group. Likewise, stories can help a group relax and become centered.

5. Tell a story with your voice and body language.
When you tell a story, match the tone and body language of individuals in the group. People will become more aware of what they are saying through their bodies and begin to modify their body language. As they do so, there will be subtle shifts in their perceptions and emotions.

6. Validate and transform emotions with a story.
Tell a story that mirrors the emotions you sense in the group in a non-didactic and unpatronizing way. This validates unspoken emotions and allows people to move past them. Once negative feelings are acknowledged, they can be examined safely through the story and even transformed into more positive ones.

7. Tell a story to change a group’s perspective.
Stories can be used as tools to encourage thinking. A group becomes stuck when it is unable to imagine other possibilities. Stories can be rich sources of irony and paradox. These, in turn, challenge a group’s current thinking and can move them in new directions.

8. Use a joke or tangent.
Jokes are a great tool for getting people to be less analytical. Jokes are like little epiphanies. A joke is funny because the punch line is unexpected. It hits us as a surprise. Telling a joke or leaving the subject at hand to go off on a tangent will help a group become less analytical and more creative.

Terrence Gargiulo is the author of Making Stories: A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and Human Resource Specialists. He may be reached at or

  Gargiulo will present Conquering the “Digital Divide” —Stories and Computer Networks in Knowledge Management on Sept. 27, at ISPI’s Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design Conference, Chicago, IL, Sept. 26-28, 2002. Register today!

by Patrick J. Boyle, Stractics Group, Inc.

While facilitating the HPT-Enterprise-Individual Contributor-Client focus group at the 2002 International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo in Dallas this past April, my role was to ask the questions and encourage those not fully participating to add their comments. This group needed no encouragement. They were pleased to be invited and eager to share thoughts, second the opinion of others, and build on previously mentioned ideas. Without question, it was a lively group interested in helping improve the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI).

Below are the names of the participants in this session:

  • Carmen Panzar, Senior Learning & Development Specialist, CitiGroup
  • Gregory Brower, IT Learning Group, Cisco Systems IT Learning Group
  • Peter Han, Learning Consultant, Lyondell Chemical Co.
  • Paul Cook, Organizational Development Consultant, City of Austin LRC
  • Wayne R. Jones, Training/Testing Analyst, Southern Company

This group saw the next five years of their professional vision as a time for expanding knowledge, translating research into practical applied solutions, and solidly moving toward or achieving certification as an HPT professional. The group admits to an incomplete awareness of all ISPI offerings and that a solution may be “just around the corner” or “6 clicks away” on the website.

Roles for ISPI
The focus group pointed to five broad areas as a proper role for the best imaginable organization. One, providing advocacy services on the political, business, and possibly community fronts. Two, through a code of ethics and certification process set standards for quality in the profession. Three, fulfill members’ practical learning needs for solving problems faced on the job. Four, networking, networking, networking. Five, enable/support local chapters in formation, growth, and event sponsorship.

On a 1-5 scale, the participant rating averaged 3.7. High marks were given to workshops and research/content base of the organization and low marks were given to ISPI marketing itself and its offerings and to local chapter support.

Broad Action Items
The focus group thoughts or comments on directions to pursue for improving ISPI fell into several broad categories.

Reach Out
Reach out to business executives possibly as an advisory board or council to heighten the ISPI profile and have access to these decision-makers and vision-drivers. Also explore marketing or membership alliances with similar organizations having different or complimentary agendas, skills, and demographics.

Reach In
Partnering with practitioners was a strong theme within the group. This was seen as a method for teaming the research/content base side of the organization with the practitioners in organizations trying to develop practical, innovative solutions to many of business’s daily struggles for making the organization more effective. The partnering could also incorporate the business organization in developing a specific case study.

To reach within the organization to explore formal, informal, or ad hoc groups to learn from similar experiences, understand trends and issues affecting various industries and interest groups.

Provide or develop tools for members such as a “15 second elevator speech on what HPT and the related certification means”, so members can work from a similar script in promoting the value of both ISPI and the HPT certification.

Earlier, I mentioned that workshops received high marks as a means for exploring a particular topic in depth. A suggested enhancement is to make the workshops more dynamic in terms of selection process for the conference and linking participants over time to examine the issues in applying the concepts presented.

This was an extremely important item for the focus group. Making sure the process works and protecting the credibility and value of the certification was significant. Further emphasis was placed on integrating the certification process from the local chapters up as a valuable networking and support mechanism.

It was evident in our discussion that local chapters are viewed as important cogs in the machinery. They represent the 360 non-conference days in a year. On the other hand, a degree of local chapter passivity was noted and a less than full understanding of the support tools that already exist. Improving the local/national relationship was felt to be low hanging fruit since many tools already exist. An additional thought in this area is that there was a need for some form of “coordination that might help defray the costs of engaging speakers for local chapter events.”

In summary, there seems to be no shortage of ideas. Now the difficult part of framing relevant actions from the information begins. If, as a result of the “best imaginable” process, the Society can tap the enthusiasm and energy exhibited by this group the future is bright.


The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) would like to congratulate the list of professionals below who have taken advantage of the exemptions available during the grandparenting period and received the designation of Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) last month. Click here for a full list of CPTs. Visit, and apply today to receive your designation.

  • Monique Muller, La Volta Consulting, Switzerland
  • Pat Webb, Baptist Regional Medical Center, Kentucky, USA
  • Bonnie Shellnut, Carlson Marketing Group, Michigan, USA
  • Dennis R. Gaspard, Williams Gas, Oklahoma, USA
  • John Amarant, Vanguard Consulting, California, USA
  • Klaus Wittkuhn, Train GhBh, Germany
  • Deborah B. Simpson, Texas Instruments, Texas, USA
  • Paul Olson, Carlson Marketing Group, Michigan, USA
  • Antoinette M. Ryan, LCM Organizational Resource Planning, Texas, USA
  • Hugh Wetmore, Williams Gas, Utah, USA
  • Dianne Finch-Smith, Cognitec Consulting, Colorado, USA
  • Walter Craig Wilson, Johnson Controls, Wisconsin, USA
  • Pat Uszler, Texas Instruments, Texas, USA
  • George William Schafer, TRIDENT Training Facility, Washington, USA
  • Joseph C. Flegel, TRIDENT Training Facility, Washington, USA



Performance Marketplace is a convenient way to exchange information of interest to the performance improvement community. Take a few moments each month to scan the listings for important new events, publications, and services. If you would like to post information for our readers, contact ISPI Director of Marketing, Dan Rudt at or 301.587.8570.

Professional Development/Education
Training and Development and Instructional Design Courses at Cal State Northridge Extension Earn CEUs with convenient evening and Saturday courses that can be applied toward a Professional Development Certificate. For more information, call (818) 677-3911 or (818) 677-3916; Courses begin September 12.

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Internet-Based Performance Improvement Institute, October 7-25, 2002 Principles and Practices of Performance Improvement is coming to your computer! Participants have raved about this class. Find out why. No bags to pack, no airline delays! Just solid performance improvement.

Instructional Design Workshops, In-House and Public — Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc. (DSA) workshops include: Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training, The Instructional Developer, The Course Developer, and The Criterion-Referenced Testing. Special pricing for courseWriter Software to DSA graduates.



Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design Conference — September 26-28, 2002, Chicago, Illinois. Take away valuable hands-on solutions to your most critical challenges in Instructional Systems Design. Return to your employer/clients with the tools needed to improve performance and deliver success.

Books and Information
Report Available: Incentives, Motivation & Workplace Performance: Research and Best Practice — Sponsored by ISPI, funded by the SITE Foundation. The purpose of the study was to cut through the conflicts and controversies regarding the use of incentives to improve performance.

Performance Improvement Quarterly—Now in its 15th year! You can't miss another issue of this scholarly journal that provides cutting-edge research and information necessary for you to keep on top of the business of improving human performance. Subscribe today!



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



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