by Donald T. Tosti, CPT and John Amarant, CPT

We are often asked why a systems logic is more powerful when analyzing the individual performer than using the behavioral model. In response to those queries, we offer the following brief explanation and a troubleshooting guide.

The behavioral model is a powerful tool for analyzing and influencing behavior. BUT the model focuses on the most basic component of performance, so it tends to be limited to just behavior and the individual performer. The smallest “chunk” of behavior that is meaningful to a performer is called the operant. An operant describes behavior in terms of the relationship between the stimulus or signal for behavior, the response to that signal, and the reinforcing consequences. The relationship is usually represented this way:

S            RC

In simple terms, the operant states that when someone senses an event/object in the environment (S) and makes an appropriate response (R) to that event, reinforcing consequences (RC) will tend to strengthen the behavior.

The recognition that behavior is part of an overall performance system provides an even more enhanced set of tools. Consider the following diagram:

The simple systems model above provides a framework for examining performance that recognizes the influence of factors other than the behavior-consequences link in performance. The benefits of expanding the scope of inquiry with a systems logic become more apparent in light of the following definitions for the five variables of the individual performer system.

  • Support: The physical and social environment that enables the performer to take action to achieve desired results—it consists of the workspace, working conditions, tools, and support personnel.
  • Direction: Clear communication of what the performer is expected to accomplish—it may also include information of the means by which it is to be accomplished and the priorities for action.
  • Performer: The people who through their conduct and their execution of tasks produce the desired results. This includes the performer’s own history, capabilities and skills, interests, etc.
  • Motivational Consequences: Events that occur as a result of a performance that either increase or decrease the likelihood of future action by the performer.
  • Feedback: Information about the outcome or results that effect a change in the direction or form of the action.

Troubleshooting the Individual Performance System: Analysis Questions
Based on the five variables of the individual performer system, the questions below will help performance consultants identify factors that may be supporting or hindering effective individual performance—or that are creating positive or negative consequences for being in the workplace, if the factors are widespread.

Support: Do people get support that contributes to effective performance?

  • Do people have the tools they need to do the job well? Are they in good condition, easy to use?
  • Are resources readily available and accessible when performers need them—including good information, resource personnel, raw materials?
  • When performers are faced with conflicting demands, heavy workloads, or interfering tasks, do they have guidelines for setting priorities?

Direction: Do people get effective direction?

  • Are appropriate expectations set with performers? Do standards exist? Are expectations reasonable? Clear? Are they presented in a way that is positive and respectful?
  • Is information about how to perform clear? Accurate? Logical? Given when people need it?
  • Are people provided with information about priorities for their work?

Performer: Are people able to perform well?

  • Do they have the right repertoire—the skills, knowledge, and experience they need?
  • Do they have the capacity to perform the job well—the physical strength, manual dexterity, intellectual ability?
  • Does the work fit with the performer’s psychological, emotional, and working style characteristics?

Motivational Consequences: Are there appropriate consequences for good performance?

  • Do people view the balance of consequences for good performance as positive?
  • Are contingencies clear—are consequences clearly linked to good performance, from the performer’s viewpoint?
  • Are consequences timed to come as soon as feasible following good performance?

Feedback: Do people get helpful feedback about their performance?

  • Does feedback fit a performer’s needs—appropriate amount of detail, given in a way that can be understood?
  • Is feedback clearly focused on improving performance—on how to improve, rather than what went wrong; on improving the work, rather than criticizing the person?
  • Is feedback given at a time when people can use it to improve?

Thinking systemically—viewing performance as the result of a system—is fundamental for performance improvement. Performance is a function of all five variables and to limit attention to the performer (which is the typical focus of training and organization development approaches) ignores major sources of performance variance. With a systems approach, the performer is no longer the center of scrutiny—it is only one variable to be analyzed.

Don Tosti is a consistent contributor to ISPI’s professional journal, Performance Improvement. He is the managing partner of Vanguard Consulting in San Rafael, California, which specializes in the alignment of organizational processes and people with the stated strategy of the organization. Don has a range of expertise in the areas of performance feedback, value creation, executive coaching, systemic change, and leadership. He may be reached at

John Amarant is an independent consultant. He is a frequent associate of Don’s on specific Vanguard Consulting projects. John has worked on numerous change implementation projects in the US and Europe—particularly the UK. His most demonstrated results are in the transportation, telecommunications, publishing, and information technology industries. John may be reached at



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  Thinking systemically —viewing performance as the result of a system—is fundamental for performance improvement…. With a systems approach, the performer is no longer the center of scrutiny—it is only one variable to be analyzed.

by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, CPT

Harold Stolovitch, CPT,
is a principal of HSA Learning and Performance Solutions, an international consulting firm that designs and develops systems to help people learn and perform better in the workplace. When we talked with him this month, Harold shared two external predictions and one internal prediction for the changing face of human performance technology (HPT).

Top Three Predictions
In the next two to three years, Harold predicts an increasing interest in human performance improvement that will move us from focusing on training and learning as a means, to performance-valued accomplishments as ends. Harold sees an evolution in organizations where training interventions have been implemented alone to combined interventions that may include a training component. Supporting this evolution is the expanding arena of performance consulting, with the performance consultant as the key professional practitioner to guide thinking.

Internationally, there will be a continuing and increasing interest in HPT and the HPT approach to improving performance. A broader range of disciplines will come together in the HPT arena. Training, OD, and HRD, drawn to one another by common interests, complementary skills, and organizational need will merge their expertise to build performance improvement systems.

Internally, we practitioners will experience a return to our HPT roots, to our fundamentals. As we become more aware of the broader role we can play in our organizations, we will rediscover the value of sharing systems thinking with related disciplines to spearhead performance improvement. We will be less distracted by “the curse of the continuous seduction” of hard technologies—e-learning at the moment and artificial intelligence and CBT in the past—and more focused on leveraging the extensive possibilities offered by the basic processes of HPT.

Why These Predictions
From Harold’s perspective, the increasing interest in human performance improvement is already evident. Clients are requesting more seminars on performance consulting. Several are moving away from a strict training structure to a broader one focused on thorough front-end analysis to identify issues and causes. They are expanding their range of interventions, in combination with training, to provide viable performance improvement solution alternatives.

Publishers are seeking books on HPI/HPT, signaling a strong market for performance improvement information. Harold and his partner, Erica Keeps, are writing a series of tool kits on the subject and contributing a chapter on human performance improvement for a book to be published in The Netherlands.

More professional organizations are emphasizing HPT. Training invited an increased number of HPI sessions for their 2003 conference, and ASTD has affiliated with ISPI to offer our Certified Performance Technologist designation.

The international continuing and increasing interest in HPT is evident through the large number of practitioners who are meeting to share information and bring performance improvement strategies and tactics to organizations in their countries. There is HPT activity in: Australia, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, South Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and other nations. (See interview with Edgar Necochea and Rick Sullivan in the October 2002 issue of PerformanceXpress.)

The professional journeys of our colleagues attest to Harold’s third prediction: practitioners will experience a return to our HPT roots. They are discovering that the hype about the latest and greatest solution does not necessarily match the reality, that continually switching from one new dazzling technology to the next is not progress, and that HPT’s tools and methods are the respected norm in the world of performance improvement. Colleagues will discuss their explorations and their return to their HPT roots in a special conference session Harold will host at ISPI’s Annual Conference in Boston, The Age of Miracles: Fads, Fantasies, Fallacies and Fallout.

How Organizations Will Be Different
As the training function moves toward a total performance approach, having senior management champions will be critical for generating support for initiatives, for publicizing results, and for demonstrating what HPT can achieve.

During this evolution, different functions such as training, organizational development, and organizational effectiveness will form internal partnerships, melding their expertise to improve performance. (See interview with Judith Hale in the February 2003 issue of PerformanceXpress.)

Traditional training professionals will gain increased confidence in their ability to make a difference in performance in their organizations. They will present themselves as strategists, rather than tacticians, and be invited to make their contributions earlier in the evolution of performance improvement initiatives.

Implications for HPT Work
The shifts in how practitioners work have already begun. Many of our processes and tools will be re-visited and updated or discarded to keep pace with needs in our core activities: front-end analysis, ROI, learning and performance engineering, and feedback systems.

We will move from an emphasis on design and delivery to greater involvement in implementation and evaluation. Our solutions will be multi-faceted and address needs all along the employment continuum from, for example, recruitment through learning and performance to evaluation and retention. Strategic partnerships will be structured to provide the needed expertise in a systematic, results-driven series of interventions.

Paradoxically, as we guide our clients to alter their focus from means to ends, it is the processes HPT practitioners apply—the means, the processes, and tasks that will ultimately define us, rather than the interventions we provide.

If 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 or Roger Addison, CPT, at


by David Forman

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In reality visuals are probably worth a lot more because their meaningful appearance is so rare. All too often pictures, graphics, and visuals are an after-thought in the text-heavy learning materials of today. These training programs are mainly derived from books or lectures, and it is much easier to just record the words and not think about presenting ideas more visually. It is easy to forget that centuries ago, before formal schools and the printing press, pictures and visuals were the primary means for conveying information.

We know that learning is enhanced if the message is presented through both words and visuals with each channel reinforcing the other. We know that there are visual learners who prefer to have information conveyed graphically. We know the visual elements of children’s books and Sesame Street are vital parts of the message and essential in sustaining a child’s attention. Common sense tells us that visuals can add meaning, spice, a framework, and relevance to material. But in reality, this rarely happens.

Our reliance on text persists in spite of growing evidence that visuals matter. Clark and Mayer (2002) have synthesized research on the value of visuals in the medium of e-learning. Among their findings:

  • There is consistent evidence that people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone.
  • Across 10 studies, transfer was increased by 55% to 121% for people who learned from both text and graphics.
  • Visual advance organizers lead to improved learning.
  • Visuals, however, must be meaningful and targeted to make a difference. Their Coherence Principle states that insignificant or gratuitous graphics impede rather than foster learning.

As compelling as these findings are, they won’t lead to change. A different mindset is required. We need to start to think visually. And we need to get over the perception that only talented (and expensive) graphic designers can do this. In special cases they can be involved, but we can do the great majority of the visualizations ourselves. A real difference, for example, can be made by such ordinary visuals as screen shots, flow charts, process diagrams, pie charts, or job aids. Here are some practical tips that can stimulate visual thinking and development.

Tip #1: Flip the traditional text-based instructional process around and start with visuals. Try to represent each major concept or objective with a key visual. Put these sketches up on a white board or flip chart and map their relationships. With this visual framework in place, now mix in the words.

Tip#2: Show a visual outcome, and then teach backwards. Once learners see a visual model of where they are going, it is much easier to get there. The Clark and Mayer research on advanced organizers cited above reinforces this tip.

Tip#3: Develop your own taxonomy of visual elements. This will allow you to not only think visually but also create visuals faster because you are re-using as opposed to creating new visuals. Possible visual elements (based on Clark and Mayer, 2002):

Visual Element



Screen shot, picture of a processor, drawing of a tool


Illustrations or pictures of the concept of ROI


Flow chart or animation of how the digestive system works


Step-by-step flow of filling out a form or using software


Graphic showing interaction between major systems such as nervous and cardio body systems

Visual Outcome

Show improved performance, end state, or completed work product

Topic Organizer

Depict how topics relate to the whole chapter, module, or feature set. Pie chart could be used


A course theme may be impact of technology on people so pictures of people are interspersed

Tip#4: The choice of type of visual is dependent on content, objectives, delivery requirements, and budget. Visuals can be effective even on a shoestring budget. Think lean; you can always enhance the production quality later.

This relatively simple graphic visually depicts the key elements in the Gateway Learning Methodology. It is an example of both a relationship and topic organizer graphic. It shows the relationship among the learning elements of knowing, doing, and applying; and it is used as a visual organizer to introduce the discussion of each element.

Two conditions must occur before we can move toward a more visual learning experience. First is the recognition that the text-heavy materials that predominate today are inadequate. Second, we must start to think in visual terms. Visual thinking is not the sole province of graphic designers, it must become how instructional designers, trainers, and project managers think and approach their jobs. Hopefully, the tips presented in this article can begin this process.

Clark, R.C. & Mayer, R.E. (2002). E-learning and the science of instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

David Forman is President of Sage Learning Systems and has been in the training profession for more than two decades. He is widely published and has spoken at major training and learning conferences in the US and abroad. David is the founder of the popular Internet job site: He may be reached at


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Visual thinking is not the sole province of graphic designers, it must become how instructional designers, trainers, and project managers think and approach their jobs.

Excited by the March PerformanceXpress
announcement about his friend Danny Langdon becoming an ISPI Honorary Life Member, “games guy” Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan tried to recall the names of past recipients of this award. After torturing himself for nearly an hour, he created an interactive game designed especially for the readers of PerformanceXpress.

Do you know that ISPI has 29 Honorary Life Members? Thiagi’s game requires you to recall the names of these distinguished members. By clicking here, you can play this addictive Hangman-type game repeatedly. Each time you play, you will see a new sequence of Honorary Life Members. You can even select different levels to match your level of expertise. Good luck!



by Jim Hill, ISPI President

A year sure does go by quickly.
Each of you knows this, yet, when we begin to undertake something significant, it is always amazing how fast time flies. So, it is no different as I look back over the past year as your president. A year has passed. How have we done? Where are we going?

It is my opinion that our Society is in excellent health and poised for a tremendous future. Our membership is growing. We are larger, more diverse, and more international. We have grown and have an increasing presence in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The primary driver of this growth has been the willingness of our current members to suggest ISPI to their peers and co-workers as the professional society of choice. As a result of this growth, it is now common to see HPT Institutes in Europe, to see books being translated into Spanish, Japanese, and Hindi, and to see our international friends at our conferences. As this inclusion grows, so too will our body of knowledge. Let’s keep it progressing.

Financially, we are in good shape. Given the state of the economy and compared to other similar organizations, we are in phenomenal condition and should be proud of that accomplishment. Over the past few years the Society has developed a more diverse income stream and the membership has taken advantage of these enhanced services. There are more to come. Look for ways to make these opportunities work for you and your organization.

Our executives are more aware of what we do. Drawing on the great work of Char Wells, we have continued to probe corporate executives for their thoughts on the role of HPT in organizations. Guy Wallace and John Swinney have also begun extensive work on what the marketplace demands of ISPI. More and more, we see ISPI members bringing their executives to our conferences. Increasingly, we learn of organizational leaders asking about human performance. If we focus on performance, we will have enduring roles in our companies and for our clients. If we, instead, opt for the path of activity, we are layoff material—line items on the expense list that companies are increasingly unwilling to bear. I ask each ISPI member to share our mission and our successes with at least one executive over the next 90 days. By making this connection, you will mark yourself as a player in your organization—one who can, and will, be relied on over time.

Finally, we are developing as a profession. At our 2002 conference, we introduced the initial list of Certified Performance Technologists. This was the first fruit from the absolutely magnificent efforts of Judy Hale and her “kitchen cabinet.” Over the course of the year, we have certified more than 200 people through grandparenting and, whenever I have had the chance to talk with our members, the majority is thrilled to have this opportunity. I’d ask that you take the opportunity to mention this program to your professional friends, colleagues, and customers. This is a significant development for HPT as a profession.

ISPI is a wonderful performance neighborhood. We have an outstanding professional staff, ably led by Rick Battaglia. Your Board of Directors is truly top notch in every personal and professional respect, and it has been an honor for me to work with them. Most importantly, we have tremendously talented members making many unique contributions to our catalog of accomplishments. Seek them out, learn from them, and share your own successes. You’ll help make ISPI even stronger in the coming years. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you. See you in Boston.



by Mark Munley

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews titled, Readers Respond: What Works for Me. Every month your colleagues will discuss their “tools of the trade.” Our focus will be on providing interesting and useful job aids that will help you be a more effective practitioner of human performance technology. For additional job aids and other useful information, visit ISPI’s 99 Seconds Online.

This month I talked with Kimberly Morrill of Performance Design Lab, a research, training, and consulting organization specializing in the design and development of organization performance systems. Kimberly may be reached at

Mark: What is a Project Feasibility Guide?

Kimberly: It’s a decision-making tool that guides the user through a process to determine the feasibility of a project. It helps answer the questions: Should I write a proposal? Should I take on this project?

Mark: Who might be interested in using this tool?

Kimberly: I would think both internal and external project teams could use it.

Mark: When do you use a Project Feasibility Guide?

Kimberly: I believe the tool is scalable and would be used regardless of the size of the request for help. I find it most useful after my initial high-level analysis of the situation.

Mark: How do you use it?

Kimberly: Well, in the first section there is a series of in-depth questions that need to be answered. The following sections lead the user through a series of questions that help identify elements that support the success of any given project as well as identifying those things that will inhibit or even cause failure on a project.

Mark: What is the benefit of using this tool to you and the client?

Kimberly: For the Client—This tool helps me focus on the Critical Business Issue (CBI) and the gap in results that are driving the need for the project. These may not always be clear to the client, and usually are not stated in the original request for help. If I can’t clearly connect the project with a CBI/Results Gap, then I really have to question if the project is worthwhile for the client.

For Us—Using the tool makes me feel confident that I have assessed all aspects of whether a project will be worthwhile or not—for us and the client. Just take a look at it! It even asks things most people wouldn’t normally think of, such as “will this project be a good learning opportunity for our company?” We have taken on projects just to test our methodology in different industries, or to build examples for sales calls, etc., where we might normally question the benefits to us of doing the project.

Mark: Why do you like this tool?

Kimberly: I think it is very thorough. The tool guides you through a well-designed inquiry process that leads to rational decisions about the viability of a given project. The results lead me to one of three possible conclusions: Yes, I’ll take on the project and why; No, I am not interested and why; and Yes, but . . ., where I attempt to come to some agreement with the client on how to address issues that have surfaced during my initial high-level analysis.

Mark: Finally, why is there air?

Kimberly: That’s not going to be answered by the guide! (-:

Click here to download a PDF file of the Project Feasibility Guide discussed above by Kimberly and Mark.

Mark Munley is a business analyst with Performance Design Lab. He brings management and consulting experience in the analysis, design, and implementation of organization performance systems. He may be reached at



by Brian Desautels, ISPI Director/Treasurer

Based on the positive response
received from the Treasurer’s Report I wrote last fall, the Society decided to create its first “Year in Review.” Each year the Board, committees, and staff are driven by annual goals that reflect both our intellectual mission and our business requirements. We aim to continuously improve the Society by managing our accomplishments against our objectives within today’s environmental constraints. We hope you agree that, during these tough times, managing to this level of accomplishment has been nothing short of phenomenal for this team.

Before reviewing the accomplishments of ISPI, it is important to recognize the goals and objectives identified at the beginning of 2002. They are:

Validated HPT Principles and Practice

  • Provide members information about research related to HPT and how it links to practice.
  • Identify successful applications of HPT.
  • Sponsor, monitor, and disseminate research related to human performance.
  • Provide criteria to judge the efficacy of HPT products and services.
  • Distinguish the critical attributes of good practice from poor practice and provide examples.

Recognition of ISPI as the Leading Source and Resource for Information about HPT

  • Promote HPT and communicate its value proposition to: practitioners and targeted markets.
  • Differentiate the practice of HPT from other fields of practice.
  • Market the benefits of ISPI affiliation to people with a passion for or an interest in HPT.

Sound and Resilient Society Operations and Governance

  • Maintain financial reserves.
  • Maintain a diversified income stream.
  • Assure committees and task forces are aligned.
  • Have a positive annual operating budget (general fund).
  • Build and maintain an infrastructure to support the goals of the Society.

Proficient Practitioners

  • Maintain currency of competencies required to achieve HPT proficiency.
  • Identify and monitor the developmental needs of our members and target member groups.
  • Through partnerships, provide and identify multiple paths and opportunities to develop proficiency in HPT.
  • Provide credential in HPT competencies.
  • Provide insight on how to apply and justify HPT.

Please click here or visit to view ISPI’s Year in Review. As always, your feedback is welcomed.


by Carl Binder

There’s often a gap between the measurement of performance in training and the measurement of performance in non-training contexts. Learning activities are among the most common performance interventions, so we should try to measure their effects in ways that are compatible with how we measure performance on the job. Remembering that learning is a trend in behavior and in its resultant accomplishments provides a good foundation.

B.H. Barrett (2002) points out in her brilliant little book on the technology of teaching, that “…behavior occurs in time; it takes time to occur, and it occurs through time. Time is, therefore, a fundamental parameter of behavior” (p. 9).

As I suggested in a previous Measurement Counts! article, percentage correct is a poor representation of behavior because it ignores the time dimension. To allow direct comparison of performance in learning programs with performance in other contexts we can instead count correct and incorrect responses in a period of time and summarize using a standard unit such as count per minute. It’s easy in this way to monitor the learning process by sampling the target behavior over time and graphing the repeated measures to reveal a trend or learning line.

The figure above shows an example of a learner’s behavior trending over time. This call center trainee learned to say key facts about a product (cell phone service) in response to prompts on self-presented cards. For example, a card with the rate code RT 330 prompted the learner to say the monthly fee, $29.95. The performance criterion was to practice until one could respond to all of the cards correctly, with no errors, at between 80 and 100 cards per minute. You can see two steep trends in behavior as the individual accelerates correct responses and decelerates errors. It is clear from this measure that knowledge of these facts will be virtually automatic in the actual performance context—a relationship that percent correct cannot reveal.

We can take a similar approach teaching people to use computers and measuring the change in performance. Define steps, keystroke sequences, navigational acts, or the like; provide materials that prompt users to complete these acts; and count correct and incorrect responses (or products) in brief timed sessions. With this type of measure it becomes clear when the user is capable of navigating correctly and efficiently because the measure used in the learning activity translates directly to productivity on the job.

Even pre- and post-test data are compatible with this approach, as long as we time the performance—although they measure only the beginning and end-point of behavior trend. An example from a bank product-knowledge training program showed pre-test performance of about 4 per minute correct with almost as many errors on a test requiring learners to match customer needs with product solutions. Post-test scores of more than 15 per minute correct with almost no errors show that these learners achieved both the accuracy and the immediate recall sufficient for using the learned information in face-to-face sales.

When we think of learning as a trend in performance, or in behavior that produces accomplishments, it is far easier to obtain measures during the training process that have face validity, and which translate directly into performance requirements on the job. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

Barrett, B.H. (2002). The technology of teaching revisited: A reader’s companion to B.F. Skinner’s book. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.

Binder, C. (2002, April). The dangers of percent, PerformanceXpress.

Binder, C. & Bloom, C. (1989, February). Fluent product knowledge: Application in the financial services industry. Performance and Instruction, 17-21.

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


When we think of learning as a trend in performance, or in behavior that produces accomplishments, it is far easier to obtain measures during the training process that have face validity, and which translate directly into performance requirements on the job.

by Todd Packer

These are challenging times for our global community. Our thoughts and well wishes go to all of our members and their loved ones, whether they are serving in the armed forces, working in a zone of conflict, or living in a nation experiencing turmoil. Here at I-Spy, we strive to connect our readership through 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. Consider it a modest effort to communicate across barriers of culture, ideology, and politics to provide tools for effective performance improvement.

Quick 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 or me.

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

  1. 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
  2. HPT@work: Links to job listings, career development, volunteer opportunities, and other resources for applying your individual skills
  3. I-Candy: Links to sites that are thought provoking, enjoyable, and refreshing to help manage the stresses and identify new ideas for HPT

During a time of unprecedented global tension, we can be proud that our 2003 Annual Conference will be a gathering of individuals from nations across the world engaging in learning, dialogue, and collaboration. Together, we can improve our workplaces and our world—the ultimate power and responsibility of HPT.

This month’s column has proven to be somewhat difficult to prepare. I selected the theme of Peace in response to world events as well as an opportunity to connect to my ISPI research grant project, which is exploring links between HPT and successful peace-building initiatives. In the context of performance technology, many of the definitions of peace seem lacking, as they identify the absence of behavior (e.g., “the state prevailing during the absence of war,” “freedom from disputes”). Our challenge: Define peace activities as the presence of behaviors, then encourage them in our work. These sites can help…especially if you think outside your cube.

This time, a couple of links of note: The World Peace Through Technology Organization attempts to “inspire world peace by demonstrating the many uses of benevolent technology to all people without discrimination.” The Lentz Foundation “a registered charity engaged in peace education and peace research” contains a couple of links as well as a comprehensive essay on “Towards a Technology of Peace” by Theodore F. Lentz, Director of the St. Louis Peace Research Laboratory (copyright 1972). Of particular note is Lentz’s reference to “peace technologists” in the section on Peace Politics. Here he notes, “By exploratory, experimental and empirical research, peace technologists will identify necessary changes in our institutions, so that the will of humankind for greater harmony among men and nations can be more effectively expressed.” Human Performance Benevolent Peace Technology—what do you think?

If your drive to try something to help people in need could take you searching for a new career, pay a visit to With links to organizations, jobs, consultant opportunities, and volunteer positions in many countries, this resource can connect you with others who strive to address diverse issues from education to human rights to medicine. Provided by Action Without Borders, who “connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.”

For a new way to think outside the cube for peace, take a look at Virtual Light & Colour Cubes. The Light and Colour Cubes were dedicated as Peace Cubes at an Equinox Earthday celebration next to the Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters in March 1997 and have emerged as icons of Information Ecology. Links from this site bring a variety of images for a new method of teaching global reconciliation via visual information processing. Check out the interactive Prayer Wheel for Peace. For more on the connection between digital imagery, information, and peace, visit Project Information Habitat. This “information habitat promotes the understanding and practice of information ecology—based on the recognition of information systems as ecosystems—and in the context of the critical relationships between information ecosystems and other ecosystems—social, institutional, economic, legal, cultural, and natural. Information Habitat is a Non-Governmental Organization in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.”

For peace of our global mind, I wish all of you well until we meet again in May in the digital pages of PerformanceXpress!

When 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



by Peggy Durbin and Cindy Mazow

Too often, it seems that technological design issues overshadow learning design issues in discussions and implementations of learning objects. We hear a lot of “buzz” about technology standards, SCORM, metadata, and AICC compliance. We also hear the supposed advantages of learning objects such as reusability, scalability, accessibility, interoperability, and adaptability. But, what about instructional design?

You can benefit from the implementation of a thoughtful learning object design methodology where:

  • You can update and modify content efficiently
  • You can repurpose content to ensure high-quality standards even under tight deadlines and other constraints that developers face
  • A trainer or intelligent system can create a learning environment that meets an individual learner’s needs by appropriately selecting and sequencing content

A Learning Object Design Methodology
Think of a learning object as a chunk of content that serves a specific, identifiable role in the instructional process:

  • Introduction learning objects motivate students, and let them know what to expect from the topic.
  • Presentation learning objects define terms, outline procedures, or provide examples.
  • Activity learning objects provide students with an opportunity to explore concepts, practice procedures, or assess their learning.
  • Reflection learning objects help students get the most out of their learning experience.

By defining learning objects according to their instructional roles, your learning object design strategy is driven by instructional design, which leads to many practical benefits. You can determine the appropriate size, or granularity, of each object; you can be more flexible in how you sequence objects; and, you can repurpose your content by easily updating only the material that needs to be modified or by delivering the content using different types of training solutions. The following sections describe these applications and benefits in more detail.

You have probably heard many different recommendations on how big to make learning objects using extraneous measurements such as time or the number of characters, graphics, and HTML pages. When you think of learning objects as instructional roles, however, the size of each learning object is determined by what is needed to teach the topic.

It is natural for you to sequence instruction in different ways depending on subject, audience, pedagogical method, and a desire to avoid monotony. By designing learning objects that fulfill instructional roles—and by following a few other important design principles—you can sequence the learning objects in any way. For example, two students going through the same content may take two very different paths among learning objects:

Student A: Introduction—Presentation—Activity— Reflection
Student B: Introduction—Activity—Reflection—Presentation—Activity

One of the big selling points of learning objects is their supposed reusability. The hope is that when you have to update learning objects, it should be easier and cheaper to change only the affected learning objects. If you design your learning objects using instructional roles, reusability becomes more realistic.

For example, assume that two steps of a procedure have changed, and you need to update your training. You should only have to modify the Presentation learning object and any Activity learning objects that reference that procedure.

Flexibility and Scalability
Experts agree that web-based training is not appropriate for every situation. The industry is focusing more on blended solutions, which incorporate many instructional environments into a full learning solution using each environment when it is instructionally appropriate. Contrary to original opinion, you can apply a learning object methodology to multiple delivery mediums including classroom training.

The sequencing of instructional role learning objects can be applied naturally when designing content for the classroom. Think of various sections of an instructor or student manual as being the learning objects. You can apply the instructional roles at various levels within your classroom training design to make the methodology suit your needs.

In summary, while technology side issues are a critical consideration in any learning object strategy, there are many important benefits to the organization, development team, and the learner that are derived by putting instructional design considerations first.

Peggy Durbin is a Senior Instructional Designer with Pearson Performance Solutions. She may be reached at Cindy Mazow is a Learning Designer and Project Manager with The Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning.



Peggy Durbin and Cindy Mazow will lead a two-day workshop, Learning Object Design on April 11-12, 2003 at ISPI’s Annual Conference in Boston.

Year after year, when people are asked what they enjoy most about ISPI conferences, they reply, “Renewing old acquaintances and establishing new contacts.” So, the Conference Committee decided to provide opportunities that will help facilitate these interactions at the 2003 International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo, April 10-15 in Boston, Massachusetts.

In addition to ISPI’s signature networking events such as the Opening Session moderated this year by Harold Stolovitch and featuring special introductory remarks by Rear Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., United States Coast Guard, the Cracker Barrel, Got Results? and Performance Gallery Poster Displays, complimentary coffee breaks, special bookstore events, an Expo Hall packed with the latest in products and services, and an opportunity for you to customize your path through the conference, this year’s event will feature new opportunities for attendees to engage with one another.

Because everyone’s schedule during the conference is different, the 2003 Conference Committee is offering networking sessions in the morning (before the sessions start) and at lunchtime (between sessions). So, plan to attend these unique networking opportunities to round out your conference experience!

Morning Networking Event
Sunday, April 13 & Monday, April 14: 7:15 am - 8:15 am

For the morning session, plan to meet in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel for a no-host breakfast networking walk. There are some nice pathways and parks for walking near the conference hotel that would be just what you need to jump-start your morning. Since the conference hotel is adjoined to the Prudential Center, a mall, you can grab breakfast on the go and take an exhilarating walk before the sessions start. Make sure to dress appropriately, and if the weather just does not cooperate, we can find a path inside the mall!

Lunchtime Networking Event: Lunch with a Leader
Sunday, April 13 & Monday, April 14: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The Conference Committee has identified experts in the field of human performance technology who will be stationed at tables in the Exhibit Hall during lunch. Conference attendees are encouraged to purchase lunch in advance from the adjoining food court in the Prudential Center and visit with a leader. Leaders will not have a formal presentation, so it will be up to those participating to steer the conversation. Don’t miss this opportunity to have one-on-one time with leaders in the field of HPT.

Additional information on other networking events will be available onsite during the Opening Reception at the 2003 Conference Committee’s Welcome Table.

Staying at the Sheraton?
They say if you manage your time well, performance will improve. Shorten your commute while attending ISPI’s Annual Conference by staying at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. The Sheraton is attached to the Hynes Convention Center where events associated with the ISPI Conference will take place. If you book now, you will get your room at a special reduced rate available only to ISPI attendees as well as one coupon to receive one free buffet breakfast in the Sheraton’s restaurant, Apropos. One coupon will be issued per room. Book your room now. This offer is good until April 9, 2003.

Not registered for the conference? Well, there’s still time. Click here to complete your registration form. See you in Boston!


ISPI’s 2003-2004 committees and task forces are now forming. Many of these committees and task forces will get together at the 2003 International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo, April 10-15 in Boston.

ISPI members who would like to volunteer their time and talents should contact the following “soon-to-be-appointed” chairpersons:

Awards, Chair: Ed Schneider

Certification, Chair: Judy Hale

Chapter Partnership, Chair: Paul Cook

2004 Conference Program, Chair: Bob Bodine

Conference Workshop, Chair: Mike Peters

Nominations, Chair: Peter Hybert

Research, Chair: Will Thalheimer

Task Forces
Marketing, Chair: Brian Desautels

Presidential Initiative, Chair: John Swinney

Visit the ISPI website for more information: Go to committees (under members services in the menu bar on the left side of the screen) to review the committee and task force charters and current chairpersons. Get involved!



Doug Leigh, PhD, an assistant professor with Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education where he teaches courses in change theory, research methods, and program planning, development, and evaluation, has been selected as the new editor of Performance Improvement (PI).

Doug’s doctorate was earned in Instructional Systems from Florida State University’s Department of Educational Research. While completing his degree, he acted as technical director of projects for the university’s Learning Systems Institute, which involved contract and grant projects with various local, state, and federal agencies. His work experience ranges from settings such as K12 education (Florida Department of Education) to higher education (Florida State University’s Learning Systems Institute and Office for Needs Assessment & Planning), corporate training (Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting), non-profit (Florida TaxWatch), the military (US Navy), and the government (US Veterans Benefits Administration, State of Ohio Workforce Development). Doug is coauthor of Strategic Planning for Success: Aligning People, Performance, & Payoffs (Jossey-Bass, 2003) and Useful Educational Results: Defining, Prioritizing, and Accomplishing (Proactive Publishing, 2001).

His vision for PI includes:

  • Increasing the number of case studies published
  • Encouraging authors to contribute more and better assessment instruments and tools
  • Working with ISPI Award of Excellence and Research Grant recipients to submit articles

Most importantly, Doug wants to maintain the journal’s strengths: “it’s focus on performance, it’s grounding of application in research and theory, it’s relevance to both domestic and international audiences, and it’s culturally diverse contributions.”

Doug succeeds Dr. James A. Pershing, who ends his second two-year term as editor this month. If you are interested in contacting Doug, his email address is



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, services, and employment opportunities. To post information for our readers, contact ISPI Director of Marketing, Keith Pew at or 301.587.8570.

Books and Reports
High Impact Learning by Robert O. Brinkerhoff and Anne M. Apking provides the conceptual framework for the HILS® approach and is complete with integrated tools and methods that training practitioners can use to help their organizations achieve increased business results from learning investments.

Thiagi’s latest bookDesign Your Own Games and Activities: Thiagi’s Templates for Performance Improvement. 30 powerful participatory strategies. 407 pages + CD-ROM. $55 + shipping. Order online from or call 800.996.7725.

Magazines, Newsletters, and Journals
Chief Learning Officer Magazine Let CLO deliver the experts to you through Chief Learning Officer magazine,, and the Chief Learning Officer Executive Briefings electronic newsletter. Subscriptions are free to qualified professionals residing in the United States.

Training Services
The Power to Get Results. Martin Training Associates provides workshops, services, and products that focus on developing hard and soft skills in project management. Our methodology is universally applicable to any project and project team type. Visit for details.

Job and Career Resources
ISPI Online CareerSite is your source for performance improvement employment. Search listings and manage your resume and job applications online.


Resource Directories
ISPI Online Buyers Guide offers resources for your performance improvement, training, instructional design and organizational development initiatives.

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc. is offering the following workshops in April/May: Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training, Schaumburg (Chicago) April 8-10; Criterion-Referenced Testing Workshop, Schaumburg (Chicago) May 5-6; Instructional Developer Workshop, Raleigh (Research Triangle Park) May 5-7. Visit for more information.

41st Annual International Performance Improvement Conference and Exposition: Lessons in Leadership, Boston, MA, April 10-15, 2003. The most important annual event for workplace performance improvement professionals.

Liberty Mutual: Improving Performance Through eLearning Join Richard Benner, Director of eLearning and Instructional Design Services, Liberty Mutual and Ian Fanton, VP, Sales, Harvard Business School Publishing, in this customer case study session at the ISPI Annual Conference, April 13, 11:00 am, Room “Republic B”. Visit HBSP eLearning at ISPI Booth #430 or

Websites of Interest is a leading on-line resource providing HR professionals with daily news, articles, expert insights, discussion groups, and more. ICG (Intellectual Capital Group), a division of, provides cutting-edge research reports called RedBooks™ identifying and analyzing HR trends and technologies.



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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PerformanceXpress 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 Senior Director of Publications, at

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