by Robert O. Brinkerhoff, EdD


More than ever, organizations need training that works. The reality is, however, that sometimes training works very well to help achieve business results, and sometimes it does not. Some trainees use their learning in ways that pay off richly. But there are other trainees who never use what they learn or use it poorly when they try. And everyone else is somewhere in between, trying out bits of the training here and there, but with variable success.

Training and performance consulting leaders need fast and credible methods for finding out what is working, and what is not. Traditional evaluation studies that attempt to artificially isolate training “causes” rely on suspicious statistical gyrations, or lead to wild presumptions about causation and outlandish ROI claims.

What makes training work has more to do with the performance system than with the training design and delivery itself. The difference is the manner in which the company (or business unit) uses the training, as well as the influence of the prevailing systemic factors such as work habits, reward systems, preparedness of learners, measures, and feedback procedures, to name a few.

Enter the Success Case Method: When we discover, as we inevitably do, that some people used their new learning in effective ways, and others do not, the crucial question is why? Why were some trainees able to persevere despite performance system obstacles and make good use of their training? What helped them? Why did some not try at all? What (or who) got in the way? What factors discouraged the large proportion of trainees and eventually forced their performance back to the pre-training levels?

The Success Case approach is deceptively simple. It achieves efficiencies by purposive versus random sampling, focusing the bulk of inquiry on only a relative few trainees. The notion is that we can learn best from those trainees who have done the best at applying their learning in their work, and from those trainees who have been the least successful.

First, we use a brief survey to identify a small group of exceptionally successful, and unsuccessful, trainees. We then probe trainees from these small “core” samples through telephone interviews. For successes, we (1) document the nature and impact of their application of learning with concrete and indisputable evidence that would “stand up in court” and (2) identify the performance factors (e.g., supervisory support) that enabled these few to achieve the greatest possible results. With the unsuccessful trainees, we identify the performance system obstacles that kept them from using their learning.

Opening the Door to Performance Consulting
Training leaders have long recognized that performance system factors get in the way of training impact. But they have had little success in getting their customers to allow them to work with them on refining and improving the performance context. Success Case studies provide compelling evidence of the effects of performance factors on training impact. They provide dramatic stories of what business impact and value training is capable of achieving when it works. This information can be used to make powerful arguments to managers about the changes they could make, and the benefits they would receive if they were to make them. In organizations where we have collected Success Case data, we have experienced the rare phenomenon of being asked for performance system help! When managers who are not getting results such as those they hear about from their fellow managers who did achieve them, they want to know what they can do to catch up.

Robert O. Brinkerhoff, EdD, an internationally recognized expert in evaluation and training effectiveness, has provided consultation to dozens of major companies and organizations in the United States, South Africa, Russia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. He is an author of numerous books on evaluation and training. Rob is currently Professor of Counseling Psychology at Western Michigan University, where he coordinates graduate programs in human resource development. He serves as principal consultant and CEO for The Learning Alliance. Rob may be reached at robert.brinkerhoff@wmich.edu.

NOTE: Based on the book The Success Case (Berrett-Koehler 2003).

 
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Dr. Brinkerhoff will address Learning, Performance, and Business Impact: Building the Learning-Capable Organization as the keynote speaker at ISPI’s Performance-Based ISD Conference, September 17-20, 2003.

 



by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, CPT


At the ISPI Annual Conference
in Boston, we got together with Belia Nel, CPT and founder of Leaders of Learners, a consulting firm specializing in workplace performance improvement in South Africa. She may be reached at belia@LOL.co.za. Belia tied together three predictions related to organizational alignment in South African firms.

Top Three Predictions
In the next two to three years, Belia predicts a massive resurgence of HPT and performance improvement in South African organizations. She believes organizations will embrace the technology for the results they can produce with our HPT models and tools. One venue where HPT will have a major impact is in integrating the HPT process into recently installed SAP systems in organizations at the three levels: the workplace level, the work level, and the worker level. Many organizational leaders invested in major consulting projects and systems, sometimes without conducting the appropriate strategic analyses at these three levels, and adjustments are now required. Finally, organizations will align their OD, HR, and training practitioners to a performance improvement approach to maximize efficiencies and add value for all stakeholders.

Causes of These Predictions
South African organizations stand to reap tremendous benefits from the resurgence of HPT and performance improvement. While many business models are widely used there, few are systemic in nature and may not provide the full picture across the organization, making integration at all organizational levels problematic. In addition, Belia observes, “Most of these models are solution driven rather than performance driven.” The HPT model can enable considerable improvement in this business environment; it does more than just close performance gaps.

In recent years, the big consulting firms have found South Africa to be a welcoming and fertile field for their business. Their presence was sought and valued by senior managers who held consulting firms from the UK or Europe in higher regard than local consultants. Unfortunately, many of the large consultancies worked exclusively at the organizational level, sometimes neglecting to align people and systems throughout the entire organization. Now, local practitioners are challenged to align these interventions to the work and worker levels, solving problems created by these one-level implementations.

SAP installation will remain a popular solution-driven practice, and in the process many South African organizations will, no doubt, experience performance problems at the worker and workplace levels, with impact on individual jobs and work processes. Now, belatedly, local practitioners will apply a systematic and systemic approach to an already-implemented project to integrate the pre-determined solutions in their organizations.

The alignment of the work approaches used by OD, HR, and training practitioners will potentially provide a huge opportunity for those who work in these functions. Because they offer similar products and services to the same internal customers, practitioners in all three disciplines will use human performance improvement methodologies to align their work processes, educate their customers, and add value for their organizations. ISPI’s Standards of Performance Technology could be instrumental in shaping this critical alignment.

How Organizations Will Be Different
Through three-level alignment, organizations will experience synergistic performance improvement and visible results in work processes, worker performance, and workplace. An integrated approach across disciplines, using the 10 Standards of Performance Technology and performance improvement tools, will make it easier to give and receive performance feedback because it will be the product of a systematic and systemic process.

Organizations will be better able to identify and target issues and opportunities. Critical business initiatives will have more staying power when implemented through alignment. The user-friendly, approachable solutions possible through an HPT approach will provide visible increased value, demonstrating that outstanding results are possible from simple interventions.

Implications for HPT Work
Belia sees her personal challenge, and the challenge of her peer consultants, to be helping client organizations gain insight into the HPT approach. She sees the opportunities to provide multi-level, aligned performance and results through HPT, and she vows to keep clients “focused on the ends rather than the means.”

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 carolhaig@earthlink.net or Roger Addison, CPT, at roger@ispi.org.

 


  



by Doug Leigh


“Performance” is increasingly replacing “training”
as the focus of organizational development and improvement initiatives. However, when many practitioners speak about “performance,” they really mean performing—processes and behaviors—rather than accomplishments and results (Watkins & Leigh, 2001). While process improvement can be valuable, decisions regarding which processes and behaviors to change first require a specification of the results desired and their value. This is at the heart of performance improvement.

Not all performance is worth improving. Some results should be improved, some maintained, and some reduced or eliminated. In Performance-Based Instruction, Brethower and Smalley (1998) point out that performance improvement interventions always add cost, and only sometimes add value.

Many organizations evaluate the worth of an intervention by way of comparing the cost of a solution against the value of results returned. Less frequently considered is the cost of the problem—the cost of doing nothing. When costs go unmeasured, it’s irresponsible. When worth goes unmeasured, it’s irrational. If we only measure costs, we act as accountants who simply keep track of debits. If we only measure worth, we are little different than sports commentators whose job it is just to keep score. When both costs and worth are measured, we become informed consumers...and wise investors in process improvements.

The interventions we develop in pursuit of improved performance—improved results—always have some costs associated with them. But if the value of the results accomplished does not outweigh both the cost of the problem and the cost of the solution, we subtract value. Value is only added when the benefits of an intervention exceed both the cost of doing nothing and the cost of solving known problems. Consider a $50,000 performance problem with a $20,000 training solution. A typical designer would claim “value added” if the return was greater than $20,000. This, however, ignores the fact that the organization started from a deficit of $50,000.

So, to be credible, claims of “value added” and “effectiveness” must be backed by data regarding the cost of the problem, the cost of the solution, and the worth of results. Unless we have evidence that an intervention provides worthwhile results, cost reductions in and of themselves are of little consequence. Indeed, it is only when we have this evidence that the discussion of an intervention’s efficiency (or cost reductions) become meaningful. Only in this case do we truly improve performance.

The term “value” in “value added” and “value subtracted” requires that we know not only about what we “give” (expenses and costs), but also about what we “get back.” This notion is also the foundation of return-on-investment analysis. Performance technologists who seek to provide measures of both the costs and the value of performance improvement initiatives are more likely to make certain that returns are positive ones.

Thanks to Tom Gilbert for introducing the idea of “worthy performance” to the field. Thanks to Dale and Karolyn for helping to explain it.

References
Brethower, D.M. & Smalley, K. (1998). Performance-based instruction: Linking training to business results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Watkins, R. & Leigh, D. (2001). Performance improvement: More than just bettering the here-and-now. Performance Improvement, 41(8), 10-15.

Doug Leigh, PhD is coauthor of Strategic Planning for Success: Aligning People, Performance, and Payoffs (Jossey-Bass, 2003) and Useful Educational Results: Defining, Prioritizing, and Accomplishing (Proactive Publishing, 2001). Doug is an associate director of Roger Kaufman & Associates, chair of the American Evaluation Association’s Needs Assessment Topic Interest Group, and editor-in-chief of Performance Improvement journal. He is an assistant professor with Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education. Doug may be reached at pijeditor@ispi.org.


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Not all performance is worth improving. Some results should be improved, some maintained, and some reduced or eliminated.



by Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan

Remember your childhood days when you made up stories with your friends, each person contributing different segments to the story? Have you ever watched (or participated in) an exciting improv game in which players take turns to add a sentence (or a word) to an ever-growing story?

An Online Version
For several years, I dreamed of designing an online approach for collaborative story-making. I was not very successful because inexpensive versions were cumbersome and effective versions were very expensive. Fortunately, however, Patti Shank, a highly-respected authority on online learning, came up with an elegant program that was easily converted into a highly functional interactive fiction device.

An Invitation
We would like for you to come and play with us in our interactive fiction website.

The website has two pages. The story page contains the title for a story and the first two paragraphs. These are written by me to get things started. From now on, I will be an outsider, and let you and the other players take over. To participate, you read the current version of the story and use a simple “form” to add a paragraph to it. You type your name (as a co-author) and type your paragraph to advance the story from where it ended. Then you click a button and immediately see the evolving story with your paragraph appended at the end.

You can come back to the story and watch it grow. You may add additional paragraphs, but with this important constraint: You can add more paragraphs only after at least two other players have contributed their paragraphs.

The website also contains a welcome-and-debriefing page. This page uses a similar “form” for your comments about the story and the collaborative story-making process. It enables me, as the facilitator, to post additional instructions and suggestions.

You may choose to lurk. You may visit the interactive fiction website to see what is happening and to read the story without actively participating in the process. You may also visit and read the debriefing page and add your comments.

Suggestions for Play
Based on our play-test experience, here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t set your standards too high: The evolving story is not going to win a Pulitzer Prize or get published in an anthology.
  • You don’t know how you will react until you try it out. Some players love the creative freedom and the unexpected twists while others hate the chaos and lack of control. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back and play. However, when you drop out, please leave a debriefing comment about your reactions.
  • This activity does not have any direct training objectives. However, the setting of the story lends itself to exploring concepts from intercultural communication.
  • Before adding your contribution to the story, read the previous paragraphs. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph. Make sure that your addition maintains the style and the logic of the story.

If you are ready, click here to go to Patti’s Interactive Fiction website.

 

 
  



by Donald T. Tosti, PhD, CPT, ISPI President-elect


We usually view teamwork as an intervention developed and refined largely by organizational development practitioners. But partnering—collaboration between teams—is an intervention with its roots primarily in Human Performance Technology (HPT). My colleagues and I introduced the principles and practices of partnering at ISPI conferences about 20 years ago, to describe our work establishing collaborative relationships among organizational departments.

The goal of our efforts was to break down organizational “silos” that inhibited effective communication and coordination. More and more organizations are realizing that strong teamwork within groups needs to be balanced by cooperation across groups to avoid internal barriers that interfere with effectively accomplishing organizational results.

Partnering is critical to ISPI, not only as a base for establishing relationships with other organizations, but as one of the four keystones of performance technology consulting—defining our relationships with our clients.

There are four key elements of successful partnering, that we sometime refer to as the “what” and three “hows.”

What: The foundation for partnering. The essential foundation for a partnering relationship is agreement on a mutual goal. A mutual goal is defined as one that both parties can contribute to, and that both parties benefit from. A clear mutual goal creates the foundation for a relationship that goes beyond “win-win”—it is winning together. And that is the key to the power of partnering—an understanding between equals.

How: The principles that guide a partnering relationship. The three “hows” define the way people treat each other—the values and practices that guide a successful partnering relationship.

  • Openness. People must behave toward each other so that each party feels free to raise any issue or concern about the relationship or its goals and expect a considered response from the other. This is as critical in business relationships across organizations as it is in personal working relationships. It is what makes partnering work.
  • Respect. Practices reflective of respect require the parties to a partnering relationship to acknowledge and value the contributions of the other party; to listen to their ideas and opinions; and to demonstrate that they assume differences in opinion arise from legitimate reasons—not because others are “stupid” or “contrary.”
  • Shared Power. This includes both sharing the risks and rewards involved in mutual efforts, and also ensuring that each party has an opportunity to exercise influence in creating those rewards—and managing those risks. One cannot “protect” oneself from one’s partners.

Over the years, we have found this basic partnering model to be effective in several arenas: to break down organizational silos, to establish working relationships with clients, and to ensure the effectiveness of joint ventures.

Partnering is but one example of how the power of our technology—our focus on results/goals/outcomes, and analysis of the behaviors that contribute to those results—can be used to deal with some of the most pressing issues in organizations today.

To cite an example close to home: ISPI is currently developing partnering relationships with other human resource and performance technology organizations, such as ASTD and IFTDO. The purpose is to combine resources to work toward mutual goals that benefit the members of both organizations. For instance, ASTD and ISPI are cooperating in the development of a performance technology certification process. By working as partners in the development of a single certification process, we have the potential to create far greater benefit to performance technology and its practitioners than by working independently or in competition.

 


  



The International Society for Performance Improvement’s 2003 Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design Conference, September 17-20, 2003, at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago, IL is devoted to presenting, discussing, and debating the latest models, practical methods, tools, and case studies for the design, measurement, and evaluation of learning programs and interventions. Today’s models and methods must look beyond learning to address performance goals. ISD will be examined as a systematic approach to improving performance—that is, to defining and delivering success. Attendees will take away valuable hands-on solutions to their most critical challenges in ISD and will return to their employers and clients with the tools necessary to improve performance and deliver success.

Who Should Attend?
Instructional systems designers and other managers and professionals involved in design, development, delivery, and evaluation of performance improvement and training should attend the conference and pre-conference workshops. The case studies, presentations, and discussions will be equally valuable to professionals involved in classroom, distance, and electronic learning. All sectors including academia, business, consulting, government, military, and not-for-profit will benefit by attending.

Keynote Address
Robert O. Brinkerhoff, EdD will deliver the keynote address on Learning, Performance, and Business Impact: Building the Learning-Capable Organization. Dr. Brinkerhoff will draw from his innovative work with dozens of leading organizations to share the learning and performance principles and practices that companies need, to achieve and sustain competitive advantage through powerful learning that gets results.

Full-Day Workshops
Workshops are in-depth, full-day classes that encourage you to broaden your knowledge base in a specific topic relating to performance improvement. Workshops are limited in size ensuring that you will receive individual attention from expert presenters. Workshops will be conducted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003.

Workshop topics include:

  • Leveraging Performance and Business Impact from Training Initiatives with Robert O. Brinkerhoff, EdD and Dennis Dressler
  • Looking at Performance Through Business Glasses: Linking ISD to Business Results with Lynn Kearny, CPT and Kenneth Silber, PhD, CPT
  • Systematic Competency Identification with Danny Langdon and Kathleen Whiteside
  • The Instructional Design Workshop: Faster/Better/Easier Ways to Design Instruction with Darryl Sink, EdD

Performance Improvement Institute
Join Roger Addison, CPT, John Amarant, CPT, and Carol Haig, CPT for Principles and Practices of Performance Improvement from September 15-17, 2003. This institute will teach you the human performance technology (HPT) process and the application of performance consulting skills and tools to analyze a workplace performance problem, present solutions, and evaluate your results. Principles and Practices is the premier learning event for those ready to acquire the performance consulting mindset so critical to today’s business climate.

Conference CD-ROM
If you cannot make this event in person, you can still obtain the information that will be presented. Reserve your copy of the conference CD-ROM that contains audio and handouts of select sessions. This valuable tool will be at your fingertips when you need to reference a session you attended or perhaps missed, as well as share with your colleagues.

ISPI Membership
Join ISPI today and register for ISPI’s 2003 Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design Conference at the member rate. Take advantage of all that ISPI membership has to offer!

Registration
This conference is limited to 250 attendees, so make your plans now. Click here to register, or visit www.ispi.org/ISD2003, for more information.

 


  


by Carl Binder


Last month I promised to show more about how charts can facilitate communication about results. I’ll use three charts to illustrate how using Lindsley’s (1999) standard charting system can support decisions and analysis without statistics or fancy math.

Figure 1 shows a small businessperson using data to decide about the value of distributing brochures. You can see a decelerating trend in client appointments before she began distributing the brochure, and how the brochure accelerated client volume by about 60% per six months. The chart clearly depicts a change in trend without the usual distortions in “bounce” or variability that occur on more typical “stretch to fill” charts. Lindsley’s charting system can do the same for individual count-per-minute behavior, widgets per hour from a process, positive comments per week, dollars per month, or any other count we might collect over time. It allows us to see and understand trends, levels, and bounce independently and quite easily, without statistics.

Let me show you how using charts earned me a new client engagement. In the early 1980s I was developing training at a national weight management program for people at serious health risk due to obesity. With about 40 clinics around the country, they were attempting to grow the start-up business. The example here is from a clinic that did not do so well—largely because management failed to understand the data they were collecting, and did not heed my warning based on projected trends. (In fact, they used spreadsheets, not any form of graphic representation to manage their business, with the all-too-common result that missed critical information about trends or variability that might have led to different decisions.)

Figure 2 shows revenues in thousands of dollars per month for a single clinic in Southern California—one of their largest. I had requested copies of clinic spreadsheets to analyze the information graphically to see if I could make any helpful suggestions. The charted trend was clear: I predicted that clinic revenues would continue to decelerate if they did not make key changes in sales, marketing, or client management. (I used other charts as well, e.g., of new and departing clients per month, but this one is representative.) Because the revenues were still among the highest in their national network, no one listened and they continued to run the business without significant change.

Figure 3 shows what happened. With astounding (to them) regularity, revenues continued to decline at about 60% per six months until management was forced to close the clinic. Note that neither the trend nor the bounce changed until close to the end when the clinic more or less imploded.

My fulfilled prediction got the attention of senior management who asked me to use my “fancy charts” to predict the division’s annual revenues. I used charts from all 40 clinics, projected the trends and “envelopes of bounce” for each, and made estimates based on purely visual inspection. My estimate was less than 5% off of their eventual $12 million revenue, while the CFO with the assistance of the MIS department made a projection of around $20 million—almost twice actual revenues.

After that demonstration, I received new assignments beyond training and documentation because they thought I knew something that they did not. In fact, all I knew was how to use a standard chart to monitor counts, and how to project trends and bounce using purely visual methods to support decisions and predict outcomes. Since that time, I have used this charting system in all kinds of situations to support decisions and to better understand processes, behavior, and results.

Using the right chart can make a big difference. If you’d like to know more about Lindsley’s measurement and charting methods, please let me know.

Reference
Lindsley, O.R. (1999). From training evaluation to performance tracking. In H.D. Stolovitch & E.J. Keeps (eds.) Handbook of human performance technology, second edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 210-236.

Dr. Carl Binder is a Senior Partner at Binder Riha Associates, a consulting firm that helps clients improve processes, performance, and behavior to deliver measurable results. He may be reached at CarlBinder@aol.com, and you can read other articles by him at http://www.binder-riha.com/publications.htm

 


 

My estimate [of annual revenues] was less than 5% off of their eventual $12 million revenue, while the CFO with the assistance of the MIS department made a projection of around $20 million—almost twice actual revenues.




by Bob Bodine, 2004 Conference Chair


The International Society for Performance Improvement’s
42nd Annual International Performance Improvement Conference & Exposition in Tampa, Florida, will feature several opportunities for you to develop your professional skills, learn new HPT tools and techniques, and hear the latest research findings in our field. Some of the highlights of the 2004 Annual Conference include:

Academic Forum (30-, 45-, 60-, or 90-minute sessions). Headed by Jim Pershing, ISPI Board member, this new track seeks session proposals offering papers, discussion forums, panels, or debates on HPT philosophy, history, theories, research meta-analysis, evaluation methods, research projects, or dissertations/thesis presentations.

Innovative Forum (60- or 90-minute sessions). Headed by Andrea Moore, this repeat track seeks session proposals offering experiential learning opportunities that break the concurrent session mold.

International Forum (60- or 90-minute sessions). Headed by Jolanda Botke, this new track seeks session proposals about practicing HPT in a specific country/culture, practicing HPT internationally, partnering cross-culturally, or other international perspectives.

Concurrent Session (HPT Fundamentals, HPT Applications, and HPT Research) (90-minute sessions). Track Chairs welcome session proposals from the academic community and students on recent research. This provides students with opportunities to speak before their professional community and enriches the knowledge base of our Society.

Pre-conference Workshop. This repeat feature headed by Michael Peters will bring practitioners together to offer half-, one-, and two-day pre-conference workshops, at an additional cost to those who participate. Look for more details on these workshops in later issues of PerformanceXpress.

Performance Gallery. This format allows you to create a visual display about a successful project. The Performance Gallery provides an opportunity for participants and attendees to view and discuss each presentation.

How can you participate? Attend! Present! Volunteer! It is not too early to mark these dates on your calendar:

  • September 15, 2003: Deadline to submit proposal and early speaker registration for conference
  • February 1, 2004: Make travel plans & hotel reservations
  • April 18-20, 2004: Attend the HPT Institute prior to the conference
  • April 19-20, 2004: Attend a pre-conference workshop
  • April 20-23, 2004: Attend ISPI’s 42nd Annual Conference & Exposition

Here are some suggestions to help you prepare a successful conference proposal submission, especially if you are a novice speaking at ISPI:

  • Review the 2004 Call for Proposals, which outlines the review criteria for session proposals. Then, download the Session Proposal Template.
  • Review the Sample Session Proposal. This is an example of an accepted session proposal, updated to include all of the required information for 2004.
  • Download and review the Sample Handout and Sample Performance Tool as these will provide guidance as you are preparing your session proposal.
  • Consider a coach! Review the 2003 Conference Program, and see if you recognize anyone you might contact to provide feedback on your proposal.

We look forward to receiving your ideas for making the 2004 Conference program the best ever!

 


 



by Todd Packer


Learning never ends.
Through our “I-Spy” virtual syllabi, 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.

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

The theme for this month’s column is “School’s out.” Summertime and the learning is easy...? School is out this time of year in many places. However, as performance technologists and lifelong learners, we challenge our knowledge resource environments (including schools) to respond to our needs. Pack your lunch, remember your number 2 pencils, and let’s visit some sites where school never ends. Oh, and you can’t use the excuse that the 1-D totalistic cellular automata ate your homework.

E-Klatch
Find out who and what works to support higher education human resources through the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). They are “committed to promoting the effective management and development of human resources in higher education.” You can search for higher education HR jobs, submit an article to their journal, and download U.S. Government regulatory information. CUPA-HR’s National Conference and Expo is October 12-15, 2003, and while the proposal deadline has passed, they still offer the opportunity to submit a proposal for consideration. Definitely a site worth exploring between classes.

HPT@work
Would you like to make a difference in the life of young students? Find a great variety of resources and opportunities for effective tutoring and mentoring at The Tutor/Mentor Connection. Their mission is: “To gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutor/mentor programs and share that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children in inner city Chicago and other poverty areas.” Check out the Management, Process Improvement and Evaluation Tools link. Also, under Learning & Management Tools, I found the section and link on Boosting Education to Career Performance Through Creativity & Innovation particularly valuable for new ideas on improving education.

I-Candy
Students of the future, unite. How about teaching a class with: a toybot made from LEGO blocks “controlled by Neural Networks that model the brain of pets,” “a virtual amoeba creating itself and floating through the space,” and words you evolve yourself via Alpholution. How about potential homework chomping cellular automata creatures? These sites on Artificial Life and more can be found at ZOOLAND Artificial Life Resource. This website “brings us this brain meltingly extensive collection of links to sites involving Artificial Life; a-life. Zerosum breakage and titfortat dealings. Simulations, animations, and applet-based growings. Fractals and fish tanks and emergentboid wings.” Find ZOOLAND and other links at massive, time-sucking indexes of CoolSci from Science Hobbyist, “a large website for amateur science and science education” developed by William J. Beaty, an Engineer/Scientist on staff at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Until next time, this ever-evolving “I”-life wishes all of our readers a great summer. See you in our July 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 tp@toddpacker.com.

 


  



by Mary C. Janak


This is the first of a two-part series that addresses the problem of not enough time for employee training. This article is based on the author’s previous experience as an internal corporate trainer; she is now an external consultant specializing in employee performance improvement.

“Why does the class have to be two full days, back-to-back? I can’t have all my employees out at the same time for that long. Can you condense it to a half day?”

“Sorry about the employees who didn’t come back to training after lunch, but we had a lot of fires to put out.”

“I want an entire series on teamwork skills, but not during the first and last weeks of the month, and only on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. And be sure you avoid conflicts with the technical training schedule. Oh, and we need to get this done in the next two months.”

Sound familiar? Many workplaces today function with extreme urgency, large or unpredictable volumes of work, and increasing pressure to demonstrate shareholder value. The slogan in this kind of environment could easily be, “Revenue is king—short-term production is queen!”

This means trainers often hear a mixed message from management: “Yes, I want employees trained. I want training myself, but I can’t spare a lot of time for it. Getting orders processed is more important—we need to make our objectives because we need the revenue. Maybe next quarter.”

How can trainers resolve this problem of not enough time for training? Persuade managers to change their priorities and perceptions of training? Better educate managers on the financial consequences of lack of training to the business? Change careers?

Clearly, persuasion and education are long-term efforts, and changing careers may not be desirable. However, there is another option: trainers can ask themselves, “How can I deliver effective training in shorter periods of time?”

Albert Einstein once said that problems cannot be solved at the level at which they were created. Is there something in the way that trainers think about training that contributes to the corporate belief that there’s not enough time for training? Are firm, but outdated, beliefs held about how training is supposed to be—such as:

  • A certain number of consecutive hours/days are required for effective training
  • Once employees are in training, they should complete it
  • Managers should coach employees in applying new skills
  • Managers should schedule work flow and volume so that employees can attend training at predictable times
  • The organization should fund comprehensive employee training

These beliefs sound wonderful—and, in part or total, do not fit anymore. For instance, many newspapers report how America’s workplaces are changing in dramatic ways—including reorganizations, layoffs, and budget cuts for “expendable” areas such as training. Also, first-time managers are often technical experts who can “do the job” but do not yet know how to coach people.

Trainers need to think of new ways to deliver training within time constraints—regardless of whether they think those constraints are real. The workplace requires trainers to rise to a new level of thinking. As key players in organizational change, trainers have an opportunity to model change within their own profession.

Why would trainers want to develop new strategies to deliver training in shorter timeframes? One reason is to increase management’s perception that trainers are valuable members of the management team, focused on meeting the same business goals as management. If trainers play an active role in day-to-day operations by using new strategies to deliver training, it may be more difficult to see training as expendable when budgets are cut.

If not the trainers demonstrating a higher level of thinking, who? If not now, when?

Mary Janak, MBA and MA, Instructional Learning Technologies, is an external consultant with more than 20 years experience in corporate training and employee communications. She has worked with a wide range of managers and employees in the telecommunications, financial services, energy, and defense industries, focusing on smart, practical actions and advice that can be carried out immediately. Mary may be reached at mcjanak@msn.com.

NOTE: Part two of this series, Not Enough Time: New Strategies for Resolving the Training Dilemma, will provide new and practical approaches for delivering effective training within time constraints.

 

  
 

If trainers play an active role in day-to-day operations by using new strategies to deliver training, it may be more difficult to see training as expendable when budgets are cut.



by Mary Norris Thomas, PhD, CPT


It’s official! The results are in. The data have been quantified, qualified, scrutinized, and sanitized. The First Annual Research Exchange was professionally, socially, and statistically significant. This standing-room only event, created and facilitated by Mary Norris Thomas and Brenda Sugrue of the ISPI Research Committee, received a grand reception during the recent ISPI Annual Conference in Boston.

The session explored the breadth of research activities in which ISPI members are engaged, from new syntheses of yesterday’s efforts, to today’s cutting-edge investigations, to tomorrow’s issues.

Engaging in lively interactions, session participants and contributors jointly explored, questioned, learned, debated, and most of all, showcased the critical role of research in our community of practice. Research is our foundation, our current practices, and our future. Without research, ISPI would not have the tools, models, theories, or practices that we use today. Without research, we will have none for tomorrow.

Naturally, we have both qualitative and quantitative data to support the session’s success. The results are presented below, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Qualitative Results
A snapshot of the qualitative results is shown in the session photographic documentation (AKA: picture) below. Despite issues with exposure, white balance, and user equipment error, the photographic documentation clearly shows rapt attention, camaraderie, audience diversity, and most notably, a packed room.

Content analysis of written feedback comments revealed consistency of positive experiences among respondents. To facilitate assimilation, responses were grouped by category, and summarized below. Qualitatively, respondents unanimously gave the session an overwhelming “thumbs up,” viewed the session as highly valuable, voiced demand for the session to be a reoccurring event, and found the format energizing.

General
  • Very informative and enjoyable
  • Excellent
  • What a wonderful program
  • Thanks for running the session
  • Thank you for what you accomplished
  • Congratulations. I hope it’s the start of something great for ISPI.

Value & Demand

  • This is a critical session
  • Great topics for application to client consulting
  • This is the most informative session I have been to this far
  • Looking forward to this again next year
  • The room was packed
  • Unimaginable that this is the 1st Annual
  • Need more research sessions at the conference
  • More research!
  • Do more of this!
  • Perhaps two sessions, one ISPI sponsored and one other would be great
  • I wanted to hear more from most of the presenters

Format

  • Session should be bigger, longer, and earlier in the conference
  • Good use of multiple presenters
  • I loved the format! The time constraint energizes presenters, saves listeners agony
  • Do this as its own cracker barrel session
  • I would like to see an opportunity for students to present their research as well
  • Maybe allow presenters 10 minutes instead of four. Pace should be quick, but we need to comprehend

Quantitative Results
Quantitative results aligned most favorably with qualitative results. A full battery of descriptive statistics was calculated on session evaluation responses. Central tendency measures for Part 1 items are reported below. Data for all items, including frequency distributions, ranges, central tendencies, and dispersion are available upon request.

The measures of central tendency and dispersion, shown in the bar chart, illustrate respondents’ overwhelming approval ratings. (Of note is the ceiling effect.) The range of central tendency measures are reported to accommodate appropriate measurement scales. The data began life as nominal, therefore modes (5 for all items) are reported. To accommodate the evaluation instrument’s transformation of the native nominal data into ordinal data by assignment of the 5-point scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree), medians (5 for all items) are reported. Although the data are neither interval nor ratio, and acknowledging the unfortunately ubiquitous violation, means are reported. Dispersion (SD, standard deviation) was notably and consistently narrow (less than a single unit of measure) across all items, indicating (a) the reported values of central tendency represent the data well and (b) between-subject reliability was high.

Summary
In summary, “well done!” The measuring and reporting of success would not have been possible without those who helped to create it: the ISPI Board members and President Jim Hill, Research Committee Board Liaison, Jeanne Farrington, and all the other powers that be who waved their collective magic wands to sanction this event; the session contributors, who educated, challenged, and energized us; and, last but not least, the session participants who were indeed, the critical success factor.

 


   



by Monique Mueller and Christian Voelkl


The 2003 ISPI Europe Conference
Sustaining Performance: The Art of Getting Results” will take place September 25-27, at the Hotel Château de Montvillargenne, Paris-Chantilly.

Why a conference with such a title? Thinking about this question takes us back nine months when the people involved with ISPI Europe started planning this conference. Building on the success of ISPI Europe’s first conference focusing on Global Fluency, we wanted to find a new topic that would be worth exploring from a variety of different angles, with people coming from many different cultures, and working for all kinds of organizations. In other words, we wanted to find a conference theme that’s rich and interesting enough for such a holistic investigation.

When you look at this title, you will find that each word carries a key to the ideas and concerns we debated when planning the conference. Naturally, it all starts with performance. Improving performance is at the center of ISPI’s raison d’être. The models, tools, and practices of our members differ in many aspects, but we all share this common goal.

Performance is such a versatile word stretching from the vocabulary of finance to the world of performing arts. Is it not synonymous with doing? Doing to get a result that adds value to customers, employees, clients….

However, even after successful interventions to improve performance, organizations tend to revert back to their former status. Practitioners in and outside organizations are puzzled about how to sustain achieved improvements. Here we use the word sustaining in a concrete performance context.

Sustaining has another, wider connotation: Sustainability is a balancing act between an organizations’ need to be profitable and innovative in order to survive, and society’s need for a decent living for all, security, and justice, as well as bequeathing to future generations a livable planet.

The emphasis of human performance technology (HPT) is rightly on its scientific approach: methodical, proven, measurable, and replicable. That is why we call it a technology.

But if it were that simple as the word technology might imply, why are more people not successfully doing it? Maybe it is because HPT is a technology about people, it is about human performance. And people are often irrational, unpredictable, anarchic, and unique. We therefore need an artist’s approach: create, adapt, improvise, envision with humor, and tolerate.

No matter how artistic (and maybe humanistic) we sometimes want to be, the bottom line is results, valuable results, delivered effectively and efficiently to customers. Only valuable results lead to profits and only profits allow organizations to exist in the long run for the sake of their owners, employees, customers, and society at large.

This is where the circle closes: only sustainable performance achieved with the individual human being in mind will deliver lasting results for all of us—the employees, the organizations, and the societies. It’s a balancing act.

Our conference invites you to come together with other people who grapple with this balancing act. We want to discuss, share, and learn theory and practices leading to success on the ideas and concerns the title’s keywords imply: Sustaining Performance: The Art of Getting Results.

We look forward to welcoming you to a challenging and fun conference. For more information or to register, click here.

 


 

Only sustainable performance achieved with the individual human being in mind will deliver lasting results for all of us.

 


  



ISPI recently became an Associate sponsor of the 2003 Workforce Innovations Conference, July 8-10 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. Workforce Innovations is the nation’s premier conference for America’s successful workforce investment leaders, decision-makers, and change agents. The conference will explore the importance of linking employment, education, and economic development to respond to America’s changing economy. For more information, visit: www.workforceinnovations.org.

 


  



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 keithp@ispi.org 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.

ISD Revisited is a select collection of 56 articles from ISPI’s Performance Improvement journal focused ISD as practiced in the 21st Century. This compendium, with an introduction by Allison Rossett, provides a fresh perspective on ISD, presenting current thinking and best practices.

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc. is offering the following workshops: Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training, Atlanta, June 10-12; Instructional Developer Workshop, coming to San Francisco and Chicago; Criterion-Referenced Testing Workshop, Dallas, October 27-28. Visit www.dsink.com for details and to register!

Thiagi’s Interactive Strategies Workshop Package. A collection of five books (including Thiagi’s latest Design Your Own Games and Activities and Facilitator’s Toolkit) plus ZINGO software program. Pay $219 and save $111. Visit www.thiagi.com and click on “Our Products.”

 

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

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

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

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
www.Martintraining.net for details.

 

 



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 april@ispi.org. 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 april@ispi.org.

 

 

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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 april@ispi.org.

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