by Karyn Patterson
days, it seems that as we develop
more innovative methods for delivering training, our decisions on which
ones to use get harder, not easier. And everyone is talking about blended
solutions. So how do you find the right method or blend?
important thing for us to consider in answering the question is the level
of knowledge or skill that we expect from the learner after training.
We look at three general levels:
means that learners should know specific facts and concepts and how
they could be applied in the real world. For example, with training
on your organizations sexual harassment policy, you would only
expect the learner to be aware of the policy and the consequences that
would result from specific behavior.
learners will have a limited ability to perform with cases that are
simpler than what will be encountered in the real world. They might
be able to approximate the performance required for new users, but this
cannot be guaranteed. You might teach to this level of performance for
a new computer system that learners can gradually master while practicing
on the job.
this level, learners will have the ability to perform competently in
the real world, under a variety of conditions, and meet the standards
for performance. You would take this approach when training on new surgical
procedures, for example. You do not want to take any chances here.
the skill level of performance can rarely be achieved through training
alone. More often, there needs to be a component of on-the-job training
with mentoring and coaching support.
now back to our original question: How do you choose among the plethora
of delivery options? We like using a simple matrix (called the DOPLER
Decision MatrixSM) that plots the expected performance against
a continuum of delivery options ranging from self-study print (with no
real-time, contextual feedback) to on-the-job coaching (with complete
real-time, contextual feedback). The range of acceptability is
a zone where the delivery method matches the level of knowledge and skill
required. Anything outside the zone is either inefficient (you will get
the performance you expect, but you will spend more money and time than
you should) or ineffective (the learner wont be able to achieve
the performance you expect).
if it is determined that sales support professionals need to have an understanding
level of knowledge in the topic of order entry, begin at the left-hand
side where the word understanding is written and follow a horizontal
line across until it reaches the left and right diagonal lines of the
range of acceptability band. Where these lines intersect, follow
a vertical line down to the delivery methods continuum to identify
the most efficient, effective methods of deliveryin this case, workbook,
web/CD, or virtual classroom.
you know that an awareness level of knowledge is required for a particular
topic area, the matrix would indicate that anything from audio to workbook
would be appropriate. If, however, the learners are going to be in town
for a meeting and you choose to transfer the knowledge in a classroom
setting rather than producing a workbook, the objective will be met. However,
the matrix will indicate that this is an inefficient delivery method.
Inefficiency indicates only that human resources or more expensive technology
was used where a simpler method could have been used, based on the depth
of knowledge required.
into the yellow is in no way an indictment of the method employed. In
fact, you may decide to pilot a new technology-enabled course in a classroom
setting to test the exercises prior to investing in actual development.
falling into the yellow can be justified, falling into the red is a problem.
The red zone indicates that the learner will not be able to achieve the
objective, as determined by the depth of knowledge required, using that
if you want to teach a child to ride a bike, a complex skill requiring
physical and cognitive ability, the decision matrix would indicate that
only classroom and coaching delivery methods would be appropriate. No
one would expect that showing a video or logging onto HowToRideABike.com
would be sufficient to ensure the child has the competence and confidence
necessary to ride a bike.
and The Blended Solution
stay with this example for a minute. We know that showing a video is ineffective
in teaching a child to ride a bike, but lets say you have identified
that Rules of Biker Safety is a critical topic. Using a video
to demonstrate the rules of safety is entirely appropriate. And logging
onto HowToRideABike.com to review facts, concepts, and rules
may also be an efficient, effective delivery method for this content.
is, we must clearly define performance requirements, identify enabling
content, provide practice, and use the most efficient delivery method
to provide the required level of feedback to ensure mastery of the topic.
As long as all of the modules fall into the green range of acceptability
band, we will have engineered an effective, efficient blended solution.
underlying principle behind this model is this: In order for people to
perform in the real world, they must be given opportunities to practice
and receive feedback on that practice. The more the conditions of practice
mirror the conditions of the real world, and the more we provide individualized,
performance-specific feedback, the more likely learners are to actually
transfer skills learned in training to their job.
Patterson is a senior performance consultant at Triad, a consulting
firm providing custom learning and performance support solutions based
in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She specializes in leading project teams
for large-scale training and human performance improvement initiatives.
One of these initiatives, a year-long process design and documentation
project for General Motors, received the Premier Award from the Michigan
chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement. Karyn
may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
that the skill level of performance can rarely be achieved
through training alone. More often, there needs to be a component
of on-the-job training with mentoring and coaching support.
by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, CPT
we move into 2003, TrendSpotters
has changed its focus from identifying the current trends to peeking into
the future. We are asking our guests to predict what HPTers and the organizations
we serve will encounter in the next few years. To start us off, we watched
Judy Hale, CPT, of Hale
Associates, and immediate past president of ISPI, as she peered into
her crystal ball. Judy has clients and contacts across a broad spectrum
of businesses and may be reached at email@example.com.
She synthesizes her experiences and observations into three closely related
Within the next two to three years, Judy expects to see an increase
in the outsourcing of entire functions, such as learning and development,
to large firms that are highly successful but may lack direct expertise
in such functions. This practice is predicated on the success of Human
Resources in outsourcing functions like payroll, compensation, recruitment,
and outplacement. Learning and development are likely to be next. Large
firms such as IBM, Accenture, and Intrepid, as well as major advertising
agencies, are going after the training and development end of our business.
services can be competently delivered for much less cost when provided
from an offshore location. Examples are the production of books, periodicals,
and media and computer programming. Soon, we will see an increase in
offshore contracting to develop training projects and programs.
This will present new challenges because this work will require English
language expertise and cultural knowledge.
also see an increase in competition among providers of HPT-related
products and services.
on the millions of dollars spent annually on training have piqued the
interests of the large firms described above
and business failures will continue to put independent practitioners
on the street, competing for consulting business
- It is
a buyers market, with fees falling, unemployment rising, and customers
demanding fee concessions and demonstrated proof of success before they
- The larger
vendors in the human performance improvement arena will cut their costs
by contracting offshore, thus shaking up their current contractor and
Will Drive These Predictions
companies such as Microsoft and Weyerhauser are creating demand for outsourced
functions because they have client relationships at the highest levels
in major organizations and can leverage them to offer additional services.
For example, a nationally known advertising company that has run successful
ad campaigns for a client firm can say to the CEO, Look, we have
done a superb job with all your advertising. Give us your training function,
and we will handle that for you as well. And you know the quality we produce.
The CEO may well reason, If it looks good, it must be good,
and contract for the outsourcing.
well-publicized funds allocated to training and education will still be
spent; the conglomerates that provide outsourcing will go offshore to
hire out the design, development, and production at lower cost, and the
results likely will be of far less quality than those produced formerly.
Will Be Different
HPT-related work is accomplished inside organizations will also be different.
Already, purchasing departments are becoming more involved, increasing
cost controls and purchasing HPT services through the classical commodity-buying
model rather than through client relationships.
If the learning
and development function remains in place, decision-making power may be
usurped in a new organizational structure, changing how projects are managed
and outside services are used. If the function is outsourced, employees
may be transferred to the new service provider, reporting through a structure
that contains limited knowledge of human performance improvement.
for HPT Work
organizations will still improve human performance. When they contract
out, it will continue to be for smaller projects, affecting external vendors
and independent consultants. Project timeframes will compress further,
forcing HPT practitioners to think like minimalists and ask themselves:
Given that we cannot afford to do this project right, what
can we provide that will be just enough to get the job done?
As a discipline,
HPT will have to develop faster, leaner, meaner processes for our work,
moving far beyond what we accomplish today with rapid prototyping. We
will have to be quick without sacrificing effectiveness.
challenge we will face will be compensating for the lack of intimate organizational
knowledge that outsourcing and offshore contracting will produce. As we
know, there are many projects that require consideration of the finite
elements of the internal culture and are most efficiently executed by
inside staff. We will have to develop tools to manage this lack of intimacy
so projects and programs built outside will be successful and produce
years, our HPT models and rules have served us well because of the predictive
nature of our work. Now we are challenged to take a minimalist view and
revisit those models and rules, updating them to let us produce results
smarter, faster, and cheaper. By first working collegially to improve
our tools and our technology, we could then be effective with all types
of project teams, helping them improve their processes and results.
A new role
we might develop to aid our clients and ourselves in working differently
is a role that would interface between the outsource company and the client
to provide stewardship services. Like the old User Representative role
in systems organizations of yore, the Steward would ask:
is the work to be done?
is the best way to do it?
- Who is
the best choice to do it?
we in HPT will have to continue to demonstrate that performance improvement
makes a difference to organizational results, customer satisfaction, and
you have any predictions about the future of HPT that you feel would
be of interest to the PerformanceXpress readership, please contact
Carol Haig, CPT, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Roger Addison, CPT, at email@example.com.
by Diane Gayeski, PhD
you like to show increased impact
and return on investment for your training and performance improvement
projects? I am going to show you how to turn $100,000 of cost savings
into more than $1 million in organizational value! Now that I have got
you hooked, let me tell you why we need to do this.
we have made some strides in developing tools to manage and calculate
the ROI (return on investment) of projects, in my opinion this is not
sufficient. There are several reasons for this:
say you created a project that saved or made an organization a few hundred
thousand dollarsyou would probably be very proud of yourself!
But for most large organizations, this is lunch money. We need to find
a way to work with six-figure returns-on-investment to get the attention
and credibility we desire.
Even though we use replicable methods, it is still impossible to guarantee
that future interventions will have similar results, and it is generally
very difficult to isolate the variables that caused business results.
With current methods of evaluation, we are only as good as our last
project. We need to show that we contribute to the present and
todays information technologies and flattened management structures,
employees at all levels are able to do a lot of what HR, training, and
employee communications professionals used to do for them. So, we need
to show that we have another rolethat of highway engineer
instead of chauffeur.
much change to manage alone. Most
of my clients tell me that they cannot keep up with the organizational
changes that imply the need for constant news updates, modifications
in training and documentation, and coaching and feedback on performance.
Therefore, we need to create infrastructures that grow themselves
and are mostly controlled by performers themselves.
is the answer? We need to move from a focus on managing and assessing
interventions (like training courses, compensation programs, or performance
aids) to managing, assessing, and developing performance infrastructures.
These infrastructures are the permanent systems that are owned by an organization
and provide the platform for ongoing interventions and performance improvement.
What is an infrastructure asset? It can include things like a course management
system, a feedback system that allows employees to collect data and manage
their own performance, or a set of policies and tools for crisis communications.
These systems can also be referred to as intangible assets
and these are the factors that represent most of the valuation of modern
corporations and are the drivers of future earnings.
an oversimplified example of how to represent the ongoing shareholder
value of a performance improvement system that creates $100,000 savings
each year. After tax, that equals about $64,000. Multiply that by the
current S&P 500 price/earning ratio and this yields more than a million
and a half dollars of increased organizational valuation!
for Simplified Method of Determining Increase in Shareholder
Value Based on Permanent Expense Reduction
PE Ratio (S&P 500 average 12/02)
Increase in Shareholder Value
Assumes permanent savings after all applicable adjustments for overhead
and other fixed expenses.
message to you is to reposition your own statement of the value you bring
to organizations: the knowledge and ability to shape human performance
by creating the performance infrastructures that create ongoing value.
Gayeski, PhD is Professor of Organizational Communication, Learning
& Design at Ithaca College and CEO of Gayeski Analytics. She helps
clients to assess and improve their current performance infrastructures
and provides workshops on new learning technologies and performance
management concepts such as those presented in this short article. Diane
may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about communication and technology, attend
Dianes one-day workshop Beyond Level 4: Measuring, Developing,
and Managing Intangible Assets on Friday, April 11, 2003 at
ISPIs Annual Conference.
ISPIs games guy Sivasailam
Thiagi Thiagarajan, CPT, has recently been designing
and playing RAMEs (Replayable Asynchronous Multiplayer Experiences). In
plain English, RAMEs are web-based games that collect ideas from virtual
Play a RAME
month you are invited to participate in a RAME called Improving PX
(PerformanceXpress). The object of the RAME is to collect your ideas
on how to improve ISPIs online newsletter. The game has three rounds:
1. Contribute an idea for improving the value of PerformanceXpress
to its readers.
2. Review the set of ideas from other players and select the top
two. (Other players will be reviewing your idea and comparing it with
3. Review the best ideas selected by different groups and select
the top two best-of-the-best ideas.
take about 5 to 15 minutes to complete each round.
ISPI is a heavily member-driven organization, your input is vital to the
success of the Society and the publication. Feedback is essential to improving
our products and services.
whats in it for you:
- You will
enjoy playing and scoring points.
- You will
enjoy contributing a valuable idea or feedback for improvement of ISPIs
- You will
learn a process for effective and enjoyable data collection from online
for the First Round?
visit this website to register as a player: http://www.qube.com/rame/round1.asp?q_gameid=16.
only take you 15 seconds (unless your name is a long one like Sivasailam
Thiagarajan). The registration deadline is Wednesday, February 12.
You will get simple instructions for participating in the first round
after the registration is complete.
by Jeanne Farrington, ISPI Director
Rummler stopped by to talk
with the ISPI Board of Directors during our January meeting. He talked
about ISPI as a place where people come to share ideas with each other.
think about this for a minute: Is ISPI a place where learning and performance
professionals come together to learn, to share, to teach, and to grow
professionally? Our members say, Yes! In a survey of the membership
in 2000, the primary reason people gave for staying with the Society was
to keep current. They wanted to learn new things and to keep up with developments
in the field.
has a new idea? Who can explain this other aspect of the field to me?
Most of us have questions like this. Hopefully, all of us could easily
write a long list of things we would like to know more about.
In my 15 years with ISPI, I have noticed that the people who seem to know
the most never sit back and bask in the light of all they have learned.
Instead, they never stop learning. Even if they have advanced degrees
and 30 years of experience and seem to know just about everything
never, never stop reading, discussing, writing, sharing, and learning.
This constant pursuit, of course, is how they became so knowledgeable
in the first place.
For most of us, the more we learn the more we realize there is to learn.
Primary ignorancestuff we know we dont knowis
relatively easy to address. Either the information is available, or not.
The good news about primary ignorance is that we are conscious of itwe
know what we dont know. For example, I dont really know what
a quark is, and I can never remember whether occurred has one r
or two, and I wish I knew more about how the brain works. I can learn
more about or compensate for not knowing these things if I wish.
Sometimes we consciously decide not to study certain things. For example,
I dont understand electricity very well, but I am grateful that
the lights go on when I flip the switch and that the electrons are organizing
themselves to display these words on my computer screen. (I dont
actually know thats what happens, but I am happy that other people
do.) This is still primary ignorance. I know I dont know these things.
But in this case I have decided not to do anything about it.
Then there is the much more insidious secondary ignorance. This
is the stuff we dont know that we dont know. We only discover
specific areas of secondary ignorance in hindsight. For example, there
was a time when I had no idea that there was a field called instructional
we suddenly become aware of something we didnt know about at all.
We have an epiphany, or we are blindsided, or there is something we can
see only now. This can be boring, or delightful, or shocking, depending
on the circumstances.
but) all of us possess vast oceans of secondary ignorance. Perhaps this
is the thing that people who are purposefully learning all the time keep
in mind. There is always one more layer of things to discover, even when
we know a lot about a given subject.
am I missing here? is a great question for surfacing things we do
not see. Is there another point of view? What more is there to learn
about this? Is there a completely new way of looking at things that I
havent seen yet?
for the Unknown
ISPI is full of bright people. There is always someone who can provide
new information, perspective, choices, processes, or technologies. Each
of us chooses the things we invest effort in learning aboutits
just such a good thing when we are exposed to those things in a safe environmentbefore
we display our secondary ignorance about something that everybody else
seems to know already!
As a matter
of habit, we should all be asking, much of the time, What dont
I see here?
expect to learn much about quarks or electricity at ISPI. But I do expect
to learn about those things that a self-respecting performance improvement
professional ought to know. Keeping current means, at the very least,
filling in the holes in our awareness of whats important in our
field. This, and more, is what we can help each other do.
by Carl Binder
If you have followed this column for the last
few months, you know that I have encouraged readers to look
for examples of graphs that distort results, or at least show
them to their best advantage in ways that makes it difficult to
easily understand the data or to compare one graph with another. (If
you havent been following, you can catch up by clicking
the back issues link toward the bottom of the blue navigation
strip at the left.) Anyone who looks within their own organization,
at a few business magazines, or in just about any other place where
people show data to persuade or inform, will see cases of stretch-to-fill
graphs where no matter how large or small the result might be, it
fills the entire page. This is only one of many ways in which how
we graph performance results can influence our understanding of those
results, and ultimately the decisions we make. In this issue Ill
illustrate how the graphic format you choose for monitoring results
over time can help or hinder your decisions.
columns have distinguished between three types of effects you might
see in results over time: changes in level, trend, or bounce
(variability). It is important to tell the difference between these
three types of effects because they have big implications for deciding
about what performance interventions worked or did not work, what to
do next, or how to plan for the future.
actually a huge topic, worthy of entire articles or books. In fact,
Judith Hale, an ISPI past president, responded to my last column by
suggesting a 1995 book by G.T. Henry that you might enjoy. For the sake
of this discussion, lets restrict ourselves to a single example
of results data graphed in two different ways.
graph below uses a conventional stretch-to-fill graph to present
the dollars per month generated by a small contracting firm during the
first years of its life. Notice that the scale up the left is a traditional
add scale, where a given amount (e.g., 10,000) is
depicted by a given distance. On this graph we can see where
the firm changed its selling method. But it is hard to tell whether
or how the change influenced the level, trend, or bounce in month-to-month
revenues. As with all add graphs, the visual picture of
variability changes as you go up the scale. For example, a range of
x 10 looks a lot smaller toward the bottom of the scale (e.g., from
1000 to 10,000) than it does toward the top (e.g., from 10,000 to 100,000,
which would go off the scale.) If we were to draw a line through the
data to estimate the trend or overall growth in revenues, wed
actually do a better job with a curve rather than a straight line. This
fact makes it difficult to project trends into the future, at
least without a complex statistical model. (In fact, the traditional
term learning curve appears to be related to add
graphs used in the study of learning and performance over the years.
They should have used multiply graphs!)
graph presents the same data using Lindsleys (1999) standard multiply
format in which a given distance up the left represents a given ratio
or multiplicative factor rather than an absolute amount. So,
for example, multiplying the revenues x 10 from 1,000 to 10,000 on this
graph would cause the value to go up the same graphic distance as if
revenues grew from 10,000 to 100,000 (also a multiplication of x 10).
This feature has huge advantages if were trying to make sense
of the data. On the multiply graph we can see more clearly
that the change in selling method did not affect the overall trend
or growth in revenues. But it had a big effect on the bounce
or variability, reducing it from over x 50 (i.e., where it ranged from
around $700 per month to around $35,000 per month) to about x 3 (i.e.,
from around $10,000 to around $30,000).
were to make a decision based on the second graph, wed stay with
the new selling method, be happy that the overall trend continues and
with the reduction in bounce because we could now better predict cash
flow within a defined range. We might continue to change our processes
in an effort to further reduce bounce, and perhaps look more carefully
at our change in selling method to understand how and why it had that
we will continue to discuss factors related to graphic performance results
over time. If youd like to learn more about the graphing methods
illustrated in this article, be sure to shoot me an email and/or check
out Lindsleys 1999 chapter.
Henry, G.T. (1995). Graphing
data: Techniques for display and analysis. Applied Social
Research Methods Series, Vol. 36. Sage Publications.
O.R. (1999). From training evaluation to performance tracking. In H.D.
Stolovitch and E.J. Keeps (Eds), Handbook
of human performance technology (2nd ed.).
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 210-236.
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
and his companys website is www.Binder-Riha.com.
by Todd Packer
continue to start our search engines
(even in the chill of a Cleveland winter) here at I-Spy,
a feature of PerformanceXpress that highlights relevant, interesting,
and useful websites for performance technologists. Each month, we take
readers to off-the-beaten path sites that help them find similar thinkers,
resources, work, new ideas, and sometimes just plain old fun.
recap: Every month, three sites, one 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 the International Society for Performance Improvement
are the general categories I use for the sites featured:
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
Links to job listings, career development, volunteer opportunities,
and other resources for applying your individual skills
Links to sites that are thought provoking, enjoyable, and refreshing
to help manage the stresses and identify new ideas for HPT
for this months column is Respect. We seek it for ourselves,
our communities, and our profession, yet respect (from Dictionary.com)
is an elusive phenomenon, difficult to quantify yet of critical importance
for effective management. Whether to show honor or deference or special
attention, our organizations and our nations struggle with treating
people with respect, particularly historically disadvantaged groups.
In the U.S., race relations continue to challenge our ability to respect
the views, experiences, and opinions of diverse groups. As February
is recognized as National African American History Month, I-Spy explores
some connections between performance improvement, diversity, and respect.
Fasten your e-belts, and please remain seated during our travel from
the U.S. to Africa.
For an intriguing glimpse into current research on the intersect between
community, technology, and performance measurement, visit The
Institute for African-American E-Culture, a network of researchers
and professionals from diverse universities. Several of the research
summaries listed can contribute to developing HPT as we strive to respect
culture while improving performance, particularly Culture-Specific
Human Computer Interaction (CS-HCI can be defined as follows: The
study of the design, implementation, and evaluation of human-computer
interactions that are targeted towards a specific cultural demographic)
of Culture Specific Pedagogies and Development of Culturally Responsive
Performance Assessments. IAAEC focuses on building unusual collaborations
that support creation and ownership of IT in a community context. For
example, IAAEC brings together computer scientists, community activists,
and students to create a supportive technology development environment
for whatever purposes they desire.
To find ways to respect your expertise and connect to diverse online
communities in need, a visit to ServiceLeader.org
presents a variety of opportunities for individuals and businesses to
have a positive impact. Service Leader contains volunteer management
and community engagement online resources [and is] a project of the
RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School
of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. With a
focus on schools and virtual volunteering, this site offers
a variety of materials, tips, and opportunities for PTs interested in
volunteering from the keyboard as well as in the community.
Our digital safari now brings us to the beautiful and informative site
of The Project for Information
Access and Connectivity (PIAC). From powerful images of refugees
(including the haunting I
dreamt for the war to finish and it has) to sound clips of
music (check out Instruments of Mozambique under Music)
to a feasibility
study on an index for theses and dissertations completed at African
universities (Addis Ababa University had 42 in Curriculum and Instruction),
this site is a comprehensive, respectful, and multisensory tour of life
and performance in Africa. For us global cybergeeks, they also offer
a great introduction
to the Internet. PIAC, which was established in 1997 by the Ford
Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, collaborated with African
grantees and program officers of both foundations on using technology
to: enhance communications and the ability to work with colleagues and
like-minded organizations in Africa and overseas; improve access to
information; and improve the dissemination of African information. Of
note to readers, per the ISPI website,
Local Chapters section, there are two chapters in formation with a connection
to Africaone in South Africa and one for Europe/Middle East/Africa.
he is not Internet trawling for ISPI, Todd Packer can be found improving
business, non-profit, and individual performance through research, training,
and innovation coaching as Principal Consultant of Todd Packer and Associates
based in Cleveland, Ohio. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Announcing a newer, faster, cheaper, fail-safe way
for improving human performance! Okay, so it looks promising, as did
many of the so-called miracle solutions of the past. But will it deliver
on its promises? Join a brisk walk through a number of miracle cures
that promised human performance results. Find out which ones worked
and which ones have gone by the wayside to become just another fad.
Join ISPI President Jim Hill, Master of Ceremonies Harold Stolovitch,
and a dozen presenters at the Opening Session of the ISPIs
Annual International Performance Improvement Conference and Exposition
on Saturday, April 12 from 5:00-6:30 as they take a humorous look at
several of the so-called miracle solutions for improving human performance.
Each presentation will last three minutes. After these brief presentations,
two speakers will help us draw some conclusions for our work in the
future. Dont miss out on the early bird rate. Register
before February 10, 2003!
Can that be possible? Thats
certainly our goal. Every year, prior to the Annual
International Performance Improvement Conference and Exposition, ISPI
offers in-depth workshops that are meant to broaden your knowledge base
in a specific topic in workplace performance improvement.
not in the ivory tower-building business. We select topics based on their
business-relevance and their potential for solid return on investment
to organizations like yours. ISPI workshops are limited in size, ensuring
that you will receive individual attention from expert presenters that
include Carl Binder, Dale Brethower, Robert O. Brinkerhoff, Bill Coscarelli
and Sharon Shrock, Danny Langdon and Kathleen Whiteside, Allison Rossett,
Thiagi, and others.
make your plans to join your colleagues in Boston, Massachusetts, for
the Conference and Exposition, make sure to participate in one of our
20 valuable, pre-conference workshops. Our usual one-day and two-day workshops
will be supplemented this year by new, half-day workshops. Workshops dates
are April 11-12, 2003. Conference dates are April 12-15, 2003. Click here
for complete workshop descriptions and register
The best training and performance jobs
are at located on the International Society for Performance Improvements
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by Irving H. Buchen
wear two human resource (HR) hats: one
academic, the other consultative. Often, the two are fused effectively
in separate environments. My graduate course in HR Management, for example,
is peppered with stories of consulting challenges and experiences. When
I invite my students to add to or detract from these tales, the result
is often richer and even more generic. I often benefit from the give and
take by finding my knowledge base expanded and enhanced. But no one
takes me to task for using anecdotal research. In fact, course
evaluations usually single it out as a strength.
assignments frequently involve citing research sources. This is especially
important when flawed or hurried proposals are being recommended and hailed
as being innovative and fail-safe. Although the letdown is inevitable,
most clients welcome being rescued from harmful and wasteful trial and
error. Indeed, in the process I inadvertently have programmed a few to
always ask, Well, what does the literature show? However,
when a project is completed, the results are achieved, and a report is
given, no one pejoratively regards the findings as inferior to those found
in academic sources.
To be sure,
client affirmation is pragmatic, not scholarly. Crossing over creates
the problem and begets the nagging questions: at what point, if ever,
can consulting experiences be regarded as possessing a validity that is
more than impressionistic? And, if written up for publication together
with academic citations, be accepted if not as equal at least as passable?
In short, is it possible ever to join together academic and anecdotal
research; and if so how?
If I were more impressed by my own answers, I would not be genuinely soliciting
input. In any case, here is a list of my current unsatisfactory actions,
statements, and strategies:
early on that this is based in part on anecdotal research, but brace
oneself for editorial tongue-lashing.
the anecdotal process in the form of a semi-scientific experiment. Indicate
that it has been tried often and in diverse circumstances and the results
have remained essentially the same. The risk here is the inevitable
lecture on the true application of the scientific method.
suggest that these anecdotal conclusions are being only tentatively
advanced in the absence of academic work to the contrary; and time will
tell whether they have relevance. The likely response will be that the
conclusions as well as the article are premature and further, that anecdotal
fruits are more perishable than academic ones.
boldly stride forth and claim that all existing research is irrelevant
or blind to the new problem being considered; and that necessity may
have to be the mother of invention (or rather scholarly intervention);
and allow the new findings to enjoy the status of research. Such a direct
frontal attack usually elicits sustained silence; maintained over such
an extended period of time that the entire matter has been forgotten.
Suggestions, strategies, and solutions are earnestly sought and welcome
from the following:
or consultants (those
who wear both hats equally, occasionally, or partially)
and readers of manuscripts to journals or publishers
to whom the entire matter is a tempest in a teapot
students in HR majors
I have no way of anticipating responses, if any, or how more creative
they might be, my fallback position is to found and edit a new Journal
of Anecdotal Research.
Irving H. Buchen is currently a member of the faculty of the online
doctoral business program of Capella University and also teaches communications
at Florida Gulf Coast University. He serves as Senior Research Associate
to COMWELL, Consultants to Management, and to HR Partners. He also heads
up his own firm, Future Optimum Performance Systems. He is the author
of four books (soon to be five) and more than 100 articles. He may be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Seminars, and Workshops
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