Every retail business organization derives a disproportionate percentage of their productivity and profits from a select group of top performers, who consistently deliver exemplary results. Whether they are dealers or distributors, stores or wholesalers, these high-flying business units always seem to lead the way in: Compliance, Customer service, Sales productivity, and Profitability.

Management is continually faced with the dual challenge of keeping these top-performers energized and motivated, and perhaps more importantly, elevating additional business units into the upper echelon of excellent performance.

This was the situation with a national gasoline refiner and distributor—how to ensure the brand standards were met and high customer satisfaction achieved at the retail gas station outlets? The approach to this “performance” challenge was an integrated intervention, which included on-going research, training, communications, feedback, and incentives.

Most of the retail outlets were operated by independent wholesalers, and therefore staffed by the wholesalers’ employees. So the additional challenge facing the refiner was to influence these independent business executives (wholesalers) and their employees to adhere to the brand standards even though the contractual business agreement did not specifically require it.

  • 1,100 Wholesalers
  • 15,000 Wholesale Outlets
  • 160,000 Retail Outlet Employees

The first step was to identify the current high performers—those outlets with high compliance with the brand standards, high customer satisfaction, and the resulting high levels of sales. After profiling these “exemplars,” the national refiner enrolled the wholesalers in a “Global Brand Initiative” where each outlet was offered training on the desired brand standards, which included an outlet self-assessment. Then, each retail outlet was “mystery shopped” each quarter and provided specific, detailed feedback and scores on the standards and shopping experience. Based on this feedback, the retail outlets were able to identify strengths, shortcomings, and areas requiring more attention.

The mystery shopping scores were also used to determine and issue incentives to the wholesaler and outlet employees. The incentives included specialty items and merchandise for the outlet employees based on achieving top scores during the mystery shop. In addition, the wholesalers were eligible for a top travel award for achieving and maintaining high levels of brand standard compliance.

It is noteworthy that the wholesaler was already indirectly “incented” to maintain the brand standards. It was (previously) assumed that compliance with the standards would increase customer satisfaction, which in turn would increase sales volume. And, the wholesaler makes more profit when sales volume increases. However, it wasn’t until the integrated intervention provided education, measurement, feedback, and incentives that the majority of the retail outlets improved their compliance with the brand standards, and experienced improved customer satisfaction and increased sales volume.

One of the key outcomes of this integrated plan was confirmation of the causal relationship between the brand standards and sales volume based on the change in an outlet’s “brand standard” scores and subsequent increase in sales volume (see charts below). In addition, the refiner realized an overall improvement in retail customer satisfaction from 75.5% to 91.4% over five years, which was noted by Fortune magazine in naming the refiner’s brand as #1 in customer service for retail gas outlets.

Better Retail Execution Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction…

Which Leads to Greater Loyalty…

And Better Customer Satisfaction Leads to Higher Sales Volume
(000,000 gals/yr)…

The valuable lesson from this application of incentives is understanding the difference between the original incentive (increased profit for more sales) and the subsequent integrated intervention. Too often, interventions are viewed independently, as stand-alones. This is an example where multiple interventions were integrated to address the performance issue.

The intervention provided the retail outlets and the wholesalers training and specific feedback on their stores, as well as incentives for employees and the wholesalers. This integration of training, feedback, and incentives based on an effective front-end analysis, inclusion of multiple levels of the organization, and supported by on-going analysis definitely drove the desired outcomes—improved brand standards compliance, more satisfied customers, and increased sales volume.

Rodger Stotz, CPT, is Vice-president/Managing Consultant at Maritz, Inc. Maritz is a global provider of integrated performance improvement, corporate travel management, and marketing research. Rodger’s career has focused on the integration of people and processes to improve business results. He is past President of the Performance Improvement Council of the Incentive Marketing Association, a Trustee of the SITE Foundation and Chair of their Research Committee, and an active member of ISPI. Rodger is also Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Forum for People Performance Management & Measurement at Northwestern University. He may be reached at rodger.stotz@maritz.com.



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For more information on incentives, purchase your copy of Incentives, Motivation & Workplace Performance: Research and Best Practice from ISPI’s Bookstore.

by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, CPT

This month we talked with Lynn Kearny, lkearny@sprintmail.com, ISPI’s 2004 Distinguished Service Award recipient, past ISPI Director, and current member of the Principles & Practices HPT Institute faculty. Lynn is an independent consultant whose practice is increasingly focused on performance analysis that leads to performance-based instructional design projects, meeting planning and facilitation engagements, and opportunities to use visual communication.

Top Predictions
First, Lynn observes an increase in the commoditization of training, especially in larger organizations. As operations are streamlined and volume purchases are shown to reduce expenses, training will be regarded as yet another purchase to be made in bulk and delivered widely, providing quantities of training for all employees for less cost.

Second, we are likely to experience an increase in the prevalence of visual communication as organizations take advantage of readily accessible media to present information in ways that others will understand and remember.

Why These Predictions
The increased commoditization of training grows out of a number of recent changes in the global business environment. One is the “me too” syndrome observed or experienced by many of us: a company latches onto a concept, such as the popular Learning Organization, decides to become one, determines on a very superficial level that a Learning Organization must offer lots of training, and off they go to implement.

Another change is related to staff cutbacks where fewer employees are required to do more and varied kinds of work and consequently must rapidly acquire new skills. This scarcity of staff resources leads to the desire to train employees without taking them off the job. E-learning neatly solves the problem by enabling the delivery of mass-produced training on demand to the worker’s desktop.

Finally, there is the corporate university. Charged with identifying the competencies required for successful performance in jobs throughout the organization, many such universities dutifully identify generic sets of competencies that apply to broad families of jobs and build courses to match the competencies. These organizations become so intently focused on competencies that they find they are managing those rather than results. Employees attend courses to “check the box” and don’t see the relevance to their jobs.

The increased prevalence of visual communication is already evident. Our world is filled with accessible resources for visual media, from computers to scanners to digital cameras to cell phones. We are surrounded by visual images in advertising and accustomed to quickly grasping the visual message. In HPT, we have long advocated the value of visual communication to communicate context and complex relationships more effectively than text alone, with some success. Indeed, as Bob Horn, ISPI’s 2004 Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award recipient, tells us in his seminal book, Visual Language, we need words, pictures, and symbols in combination to get our messages across most effectively.

How Organizations Will Be Different
Lynn sees both risks and opportunities for each prediction. The risk of commoditizing training is that training will become narrower and more trivial. Today, some organizations have assigned their purchasing departments, accustomed to buying equipment and supplies in quantity, the responsibility for purchasing training. This demonstrates a lack of alignment among purchasing, training, and business results. If commoditization continues, training will have less and less impact on organizational effectiveness and competitive advantage. The outcome will be the marginalization of training as a tool for performance improvement in organizations.

However, there is also opportunity for HPT practitioners to focus on client results using our HPT processes. If we communicate with our clients and senior management about what drives performance, and explain it so that it becomes accessible, we can share our tools with simple, clear explanations they can relate to and make their own. We should be selling performance systems, not just training transactions. To be successful, we must partner with our clients to carry our message high enough in their organizations to influence all the buyers. Large-ticket items like systems have multiple buyers.

The risk associated with increased visual communication is that organizations will see graphics only as advertising or entertainment and will continue to produce internal publications with stilted text in difficult-to-navigate formats. The opportunity is for HPT practitioners to incorporate words, pictures, and symbols into the materials we deliver to clients. We can model the use of intelligent visual displays and advocate their use. We can educate ourselves about how visuals help others learn and remember. An eye-opening resource is TheUnderstandingBusiness, headed by ISPI member Mark Johnson.

Implications for Lynn’s HPT Work
Lynn sees the present as an opportune time for HPT practitioners to change our proprietary ways and make our tools available to our clients for their own use. After all, if they can use it, they can sell it.

Along with the opportunity to sell performance systems, Lynn has found it essential to include performance analysis in all engagements. Lynn uses Gilbert’s and Rummler’s models and the principles and practices offered in ISPI’s HPT Institutes to make her findings visible and accessible to clients. Because the investment in training is usually large, and all the models’ components must be in place to leverage that investment, Lynn uses large visual displays to help her clients grasp the total picture and see the relationships among performance factors. Ensuring that every finding has a recommendation, she designs the display so the client can deliver and sell the same information internally.

We truly have a window of opportunity for the proliferation of performance improvement. Now is the time to invite our clients and partners into the HPT kitchen to share the secret ingredients in our recipes for success that they can use to produce results.

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.


As baby boomers season their way toward departure from full-time employment, workplaces throughout the United States face the challenge of replenishing the full complement of knowledge, for which the whole is indeed greater than the sum of parts (experience, talent, application, decision power). The establishment of a systematic, pragmatic, and valuable approach for providing long-term value to the organization requires forethought, analysis, and skillful implementation.

Even apart from the obvious need to replace outgoing resources, Knowledge Transfer (KT) should occupy a prominent position among an organization’s key strategies. Simply defined, KT is a structured approach to facilitating the absorption of competitive intelligence, dynamic capabilities, and best practices that leverage the organization’s capability for addressing current and future challenges.

The following questions need to be addressed by organizations seeking to identify and position their knowledge competitively and participate in the definition of competitive advantage within their industries.

Question #1: Is your organization’s KT plan systematic, rather than individual, in character? Is there a specific, planned set of processes for core knowledge assessment, inclusive of all levels of management and front-line staff, for identifying current and future knowledge gaps on an ongoing basis?

Question #2: How many replacement layers are incorporated into the KT strategy? To what extent does knowledge transfer trickle down throughout the organization, emphasizing both management and strategic technical competencies?

Question #3: How is knowledge captured now? What, if any, changes must be made to ensure (a) capture, (b) flexible and ongoing additions, (c) easy access, and (d) practicality of use? Is a structured set of processes for knowledge capture and transfer currently in place? Who needs to be involved in establishing a format and communicating its criticality system-wide? Where are there gaps in currently needed capacity areas?

Question #4: To what extent does knowledge capture utilize appropriate technology? What is the best way to integrate knowledge capture and transfer into both human and technical systems and processes? Three key criteria apply here: (a) access by employees system-wide, (b) appropriate focus by human resource staff and senior executive leadership, and (c) track record of effectiveness. The organization should house visible evidence of core concepts and tracking of success within a user-friendly application that everyone can consult and does consult. It is of interest to everyone planning and participating in the organization’s major accomplishments to recognize and contribute to systematic KT.

Question #5: Is there an institutionalized, fair method of talent recognition that facilitates growth and development of the individual and the organization, for their mutual benefit? Does the approach utilized for KT use non-discriminatory practices and extend opportunities on a fair and equal basis to employees seeking to grow professionally within the organization?

Question #6: How are present and probable future contexts of the organization factored into KT and succession planning? On a routine basis, senior executive leadership should be examining the level of human capacity for meeting and defining current and future challenges.

Question #7: What are the core knowledge, skills, and abilities required for effective performance of the organization’s most critical functions, and how frequently do these change? An organization must be cognizant of changes that occur in the definition of knowledge, skills, and abilities that underlie its core knowledge, and be prepared to redefine its criticality.

Question #8: To what extent is each of the core competencies present, emerging, or in need of training in potential candidates identified for assuming the incumbents’ duties in the future? A clearly articulated, explanatory table, listing competencies, positions in the organization that require them, current level of competency in position incumbents, and aspiring position holders, can provide the foundation of a systematic competency assessment for the organization.

Question #9: Is promotion from within a probable scenario or will there be substantial external recruitment required? Continually assessing the degree to which inside talent can be groomed for upward mobility and external talent should be recruited represents another key priority, to ensure that the organization’s policies and procedures for recruitment are in place and competitive.

Question #10: What external and internal forces/trends are anticipated to influence succession activities through KT strategies? The bottom-line question that needs to be posed regarding the organization’s position within the marketplace remains: how effectively are the organization and its staff positioned to perform ahead of marketplace trends? Human capital considerations underlie the organization’s capacity, and must be afforded top priority at all times.

Sheila E. Murphy, PhD is President of Sheila Murphy Associates, a Phoenix-based consulting firm performing analysis, evaluation, and research involving long-range initiatives and organizational performance for organizations and governments worldwide. She may be reached at shemurph@cox.net


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It is of interest to everyone planning and participating in the organization’s major accomplishments to recognize and contribute to systematic knowledge transfer.

Are you registered to attend ISPI’s 42nd Annual International Performance Improvement Conference & Exposition, April 18-23 in Tampa, Florida? If not, you still have time. Here is a taste of what you will experience:

The event starts with ISPI’s two HPT Institutes on April 18-20: Principles & Practices of Performance Improvement and Making the Transition to Performance Improvement. In addition to the Institutes, the conference offers attendees the opportunity to participate in half-, one-, and two-day workshops on April 19-20. These workshops come with a money-back guarantee and are delivered by experts in the HPT field.

On Tuesday, April 20, the conference, themed Partnering for Performance, starts with an Opening Session facilitated by Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan that will set the tone for the partnering, connecting, and learning that will carry you through the next three days. Neil Rackham and Joseph Sener, Vice President for Business Excellence, Baxter Healthcare, will be the Keynote Presenters.

The 2004 Masters’ Series presenters are: Dale Brethower, John Coné, Belia Nel, Tim Johnson, Geary Rummler, Ray Svenson, and Klaus D. Wittkuhn. These speakers will address the trends and issues facing human performance improvement practitioners.

The conference program includes more than 200 encore, special, and concurrent sessions. In response to feedback from 2003 conference attendees, ISPI expanded the number of concurrent session time slots and reduced the number of sessions per slot to give greater access to the presentations.

The Exhibit Hall, scheduled from April 20-22, gives attendees an opportunity to meet and talk with leading vendors in the field of HPT. You can survey products, gain in-depth product information, and compare approaches in one venue.

The 2004 Annual Conference is posed to continue the tradition of being the premier performance improvement event of the year. All we need to make it complete is YOU! Click here to register today!


The year of my term, my turn, as president of ISPI has passed quickly. This year’s Board of Directors tackled a lot in a time of fiscal restraint. In my last message to the Society, I’d like to discuss the Board’s top two initiatives from my perspective. They are:

  • The Presidential Initiative Task Force
  • The Strategic & Operational Plan

Presidential Initiative Task Force: “Clarifying the HPT Value Proposition”
The key purpose of this initiative is to clarify exactly what is and what is not within the realm of human performance technology (HPT). And, among other issues, should the “H” remain? I believe that we need to come to a Societal consensus on what’s inside HPT, and what are “cousin” methods. The former should constitute the bulk of the content within our forums and publications as we disseminate the technology—our main “reason for being” as a professional Society. We could then create a better balance of that content and wouldn’t be so heavily ISD oriented. The latter are our “cousins” of whom I also need to know more about, but perhaps less at a knowledge level and more at an awareness level. I need to collaborate with them and learn their language and models. I do know that it is most often more than a knowledge/skill issue at the root of all opportunities for improvement.

And, I do know that I need to speak in the language of my customer, or a language more customer-friendly, and not use the technical language of the domain, just as I would expect medical professionals to talk amongst themselves in a more precise medical language but then talk to patients in a more accessible language. Not as precise perhaps, but less mumbo-jumbo from the layman’s perspective.

Strategic & Operational Plan
This plan is a “step increase” extension of the planning efforts that were evolving for the past half-dozen years or so. I first participated in the effort in 1999 when I joined the Board.

This past year we told the committees and task forces to stay on a steady state from the prior year’s direction, and then we took much longer than in the past to steep ourselves in an effort to review and re-articulate the four major goals of the Society, and add sub-goals to further clarify our strategic intent.

From there we identified many “activities” that would be necessary to achieve the goals and sub-goals. These were then prioritized AND put on a timeline in a Project Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) chart. The PERT format aligns in a timeline all activities so that one might easily see the necessary connections and interdependencies of those “dots” and the “critical path” regarding cycle time from end to end.

This chart enables everyone to readily see the impact of any delays in all activities in terms of schedule and quality of the chain of “inputs-process-outputs” of those activities. Many of the activities are assigned to ISPI committees and task forces, as well as to staff and the Board itself. We are all dependent on each other, and our future success (I believe) requires us to get our “potentially disparate acts” together. Call it alignment.

This 5+ year view of our strategic intent could and should be the vehicle for communications between the Board, the staff, and our committees and task forces in an iterative process, where the Board sets the key objectives and then “tasks” the staff through goals set for the CEO/Executive Director, and tasks our committees and task forces via the chartering process.

The leadership of the Society is conducting a face-to-face orientation with committee and task force chairs in Tampa to facilitate getting us all better aligned with greater understanding of our shared strategic intent.

Of course, these two efforts are but two of many activities of the Board, staff, and our committees and task forces. It has been a busy year. I will have mixed emotions as my term comes to an end. I hope to see you in Tampa!


Don’t miss the Job Fair taking place April 20-23, at ISPI’s 42nd Annual International Performance Improvement Conference & Exposition in Tampa, Florida!

Looking for a few good employees?
Are you looking to hire the best and brightest in performance improvement, training, instructional design, organizational development, and related fields? If you answered yes and you plan on being at ISPI’s Annual Conference, then there’s no better opportunity to meet and interview qualified applicants for your current vacancies. Sign up for a recruiter package as part of your conference experience and take advantage of this incredible opportunity. If you’re unable to attend the conference, send us your job listings, and we will post them at the Job Fair or in ISPI’s Online Job Bank. All resumes will be forwarded at the conclusion of the conference.

Looking for a new job?
Are you looking for a new job? Meet with potential employers from around the nation. Bring plenty of resumes and be ready to interview. Be sure to review the position openings on the conference Job Board.

For more information, contact ISPI’s Director of Membership Francis George at francisg@ispi.org.



CPT Application Deadline Approaches
The Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation is awarded by ISPI to experienced practitioners in the field of performance improvement and related fields such as instructional design and organizational development whose work meets the 10 Standards of Performance Technology and other application requirements.

The deadline for submitting your application to become a CPT must be received at ISPI headquarters by June 15, 2004, or it will be held until the next processing deadline of November 15, 2004. For more information on becoming a CPT and to download the application, visit www.certifiedpt.org.

CPT Partnering
Applying for the CPT designation using the grandparenting provision ended for the general public on October 31, 2003. The CPT Performance-Based Partnership agreement extends the grandparenting application provision to those organizations that have made a commitment to using performance technology in their organizations. Indications of this commitment include:

  • being or becoming an Advocate member of ISPI,
  • being or becoming a member organization of the American Productivity and Quality Center, (Click here to see if your organization is a member of APQC),
  • hosting an in-house Principles and Practices of Performance Improvement or Making the Transition to Performance Improvement HPT Institute,
  • hosting an in-house ASTD HPI Institute program, or
  • embedding the Standards of Performance Technology and the CPT designation into criteria for selection and development of performance improvement professionals.

Applicants, eligible under the CPT Partnership program, with six or more years of experience in performance improvement or related fields may apply under the grandparent application provision until October 1, 2004. To inquire as to how your organization can become a CPT Partner, contact certification@ispi.org.


This is Part II of the article that ran in the February 2004 issue of PerformanceXpress addressing Six Sigma and HPT. In order to better understand the opportunities for human performance technology (HPT) professionals to support Six Sigma, it is essential to consider the differences and similarities of the two concepts. Clearly there are more similarities than differences. Perhaps the primary difference is in execution. Below is a comparison between HPT and Six Sigma.

Strategy and Analysis: HPT analysis consists of assessment of society, organization, process, and individuals. Six Sigma begins with senior executive priorities and definition of projects. HPT is more comprehensive and broader, especially when the executive level is involved in the performance or opportunity analysis, while Six Sigma is more closely aligned with senior executives’ strategy and is driven by hard data. Information gathering differs. HPT often uses surveys, interviews, and organizational data in a general sense. Six Sigma gathers very specific numerical data, supported by organizational data and limited interviews or surveys.

Cause Analysis: Both HPT and Six Sigma use cause analysis. Six Sigma draws on the quality heritage of the Shewhart and Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act. HPT uses quality processes without the discipline of exactness. Six Sigma tends to define expected outcomes more precisely leading to clearer selection of interventions by the end of cause analysis. Van Tiem, Moseley, and Dessinger created a systematic Intervention Selection Tool for Performance Improvement Interventions (2001), which takes the performance improvement project team through a structured process of confirming causes and identifying the optimum interventions to alleviate an opportunity or challenge.

Interventions: Intervention implementation and change management are key components of HPT and Six Sigma. Again, HPT has more latitude to accomplish performance improvement based on blending interventions and working closely with stakeholders and the champion. Qualitative evidence of individual, process, organizational, or societal change is more central to HPT. Six Sigma also blends interventions and works closely with champions and stakeholders but precise measurement, data analysis, brainstorming, benchmarking, and evidence of variance reduction drive decisions and next steps. In both Six Sigma and HPT, intervention options are extensive.

Evaluation: Evaluation is used in both HPT and Six Sigma. In HPT, qualitative and quantitative evaluation guides decisions and proves value. In Six Sigma, primarily quantitative evaluation drives decisions to reduce variation and improve customer loyalty.

Organizational Commitment: HPT has yet to develop the senior-level commitment enjoyed by Six Sigma. “HPT may lend itself to executive level sponsors but Six Sigma demands this level of commitment. Research shows that C-level positions lead the charge and speak the Six Sigma language” (Minuth, 2003, p.7).

AutoAlliance’s implementation of Six Sigma can serve as an example of the integration of HPT and Six Sigma. David Pruitt, a University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM-D) graduate student in Performance Improvement and Instructional Design, was the Director of Deployment for AutoAlliance, the Ford-Mazda joint venture in Flat Rock, Michigan beginning in 2000. Dave combined his extensive manufacturing and quality experience with the HPT he learned at UM-D. His understanding of organizational dynamics, consulting, culture, and problem solving were enhanced through HPT. Six Sigma required extensive training, consulting, coaching, and change management, which were part of his key responsibilities and definitely related to HPT.

Clearly, there is mutual benefit and potential synergies from sharing approaches. Six Sigma can benefit from HPT’s broader approaches incorporating theory and practice from a wider variety of fields. HPT, on the other hand, can benefit from Six Sigma’s commitment to decisions based on evidence and its involvement with senior management.

Minuth, L. (2003, December). Human performance technology & six sigma: Analyzing models for improvement (Unpublished independent study). University of Michigan-Dearborn, Performance Improvement and Instructional Design graduate program.

Van Tiem, D.M., Moseley, J.L., & Dessinger, J.C. (2001). Performance improvement interventions: Enhancing people, processes, and organizations through performance technology. Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement.

Darlene Van Tiem, PhD, CPT, is an associate professor and coordinator of the Performance Improvement and Instructional Design graduate program at University of Michigan—Dearborn. Prior to academic life, Darlene was the Training Director at Ameritech (now SBC) yellow pages business unit for four states. In addition, she was the curriculum manager of corporate-sponsored technical training for General Motors North America through General Physics. Darlene was lead author for two ISPI award-winning books: Fundamentals of Performance Technology and Performance Improvement Interventions. She may be reached at dvt@umd.umich.edu.


HPT has yet to develop the senior-level commitment enjoyed by Six Sigma.

Based on the incredible popularity of last year’s Research Exchange conference session, the ISPI Research Committee is sponsoring two sessions at this year’s conference. Mary Norris Thomas and Ingrid Guerra have organized these sessions, continuing the long ISPI tradition of emphasizing the importance of research-based performance-improvement solutions. The Research Exchange, which takes place on Thursday, April 22 from 11:00 am-12:30 pm, will continue with its exciting fast-paced format. The focus is on the latest research, provided by some of ISPI’s premier researchers. “Today’s research becomes tomorrow’s human performance technology,” says Thomas.

The second session, the Research Roundtable, which takes place on Wednesday, April 21 from 2:00-3:30 pm, is focused on how to evaluate research-based claims. This modified cracker barrel session will highlight some of ISPI’s best research thinkers. Audience members will be treated to rotating 15-minute sessions that will answer questions such as, “How do we know if the wizardry of some performance-improvement product is for real? How do we decide whether to trust the research cited? How can we decide between fact and fiction, snake oil and aspirin?

If you have any questions, please contact Mary Norris Thomas at mnthomas@fleminggroup.com.



Let me direct your attention
to the field of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) and to the OBM Network. We share a lot with our OBM colleagues, and recent presentations and publications by thought leaders in both fields have begun a dialogue that is bound to yield mutual benefits. In this column, I’d like to focus on the practice of measurement and sharing of data in OBM that documents and continues to advance the field, and from which I believe we in ISPI and HPT can learn.

OBM has evolved from the same natural science roots as HPT, the experimental and applied analysis of behavior. While the origins of ISPI and HPT are in programmed instruction (you might recall that ISPI was once called NSPI—National Society for Programmed Instruction), OBM originally focused more on the use of consequences to manage or improve behavior. During the decades in which each field has evolved, HPT has embraced a broad array of methodologies and schools of thought while OBM has stayed somewhat closer to its roots.

One of the upshots of this evolution is that OBM is far more data-rich than HPT, at least if the publications and conference presentations in each field are representative. It is the exception to find an OBM presentation or article that does not contain baseline data and measures of results, while it is exceptional to find an HPT article or presentation that does contain such data. Lindsley’s (1997) review of the HPT literature revealed, for example, that only about 2% of the “displays” in a prominent HPT periodical and less than 7% of chapters in a standard handbook of HPT included performance measures.

On the other hand, OBM has until relatively recently focused on measuring and changing behavior, while HPT, at least since the seminal influences of Gilbert, Rummler, and their colleagues, has emphasized the accomplishments or job outputs produced by behavior. An explicit focus on accomplishments offers the potential of closer linkage from the behavior that produces them to the business results to which those accomplishments contribute value. But of course if we do not measure either, then the point is theoretical, at best.

This month the OBM network published a downloadable issue of their newsletter that contains articles by several HPT thought leaders (including Dale Brethower, Guy Wallace, and Leslie Braksick) comparing and contrasting HPT and OBM. At the same time, ISPI’s GOT RESULTS? Campaign is actively soliciting results measurement cases from members of the OBM Network. Because ongoing measurement is a standard component of the OBM approach, we hope to receive quite a few cases from OBM practitioners.

I heartily recommend you check out the OBM Network and its online publication—a rich source of interesting information and a potential network node for your professional learning and collaboration. If we can better align and integrate the two communities that support these disciplines and organizations, the field of data-based performance improvement will certainly gain tremendous benefits in the years to come.

Lindsley, O.R. (1997). Performance is easy to monitor and hard to measure. In R. Kaufman, S. Thiagarajan, & P. MacGillis (Eds.), The guidebook for performance improvement: Working with individuals and organizations, 519-559. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Dr. Carl Binder is a Senior Partner at Binder Riha Associates, a consulting firm that helps clients improve processes, performance, behavior, and the measurement of results. He may be reached at CarlBinder@aol.com, and you can read other articles by him at www.Binder-Riha.com/publications.htm. See past issues of this column by clicking on the “Back Issues” link at the bottom of the blue navigation bar to the left.




Last week in the leading German management magazine on industry and economy, I read about the three major strategies for economic growth for a European company. They are 1) innovation, 2) mergers and acquisitions, and 3) internationalization. I realized that all three strategies have a lot to do with human performance technology (HPT). Creating a climate inside an organization that fosters innovation and supports pioneers who don’t think like all the others is a priority task for every leader in every organization. And often, they do it together with HPT consultants—internal and external—who take the systems view.

Making mergers succeed is a difficult job. Marrying two organizations is hard enough, but integrating two cultures is even harder. Overcoming mental barriers often is much more difficult than tearing down walls. Particularly for Germans, this has become a sad truth since the Berlin Wall came down. In the minds of former West and East Germans, the wall is often still there today, although you have been able to travel easily from east to west for more than 13 years now. But politicians are not always HPT experts, are they?

Now, internationalisation. When the ISPI Europe Board met in November of last year in Essex, we discovered that although the actual economic situation is very different in our countries, we all had or were experiencing cost cutting and layoffs in our companies or at our client companies. These measures may be necessary, but they create a climate of depression and indifference among staff. So, we decided to take a look beyond cost cutting and tried to identify the value promise behind it. How can HPT help to revitalize companies today? This is how the theme for the third ISPI Europe Conference to be held October 7-9, 2004, in Lisbon, Portugal, was born: “Beyond Cost Cutting: Create Value by Improving Human Performance.” You might be interested in joining us. The opportunity to discuss and network with HPT experts from all over the world opens up new perspectives. And strolling through the romantic streets of beautiful, sunny Lisbon may be another incentive.

ISPI is comprised of very different people with a variety of ideas and concepts. Why not benefit more from this diversity? Come talk, exchange experiences, and think about how to create synergy and build cooperation.

The “I” in ISPI is a promise. And, it is an opportunity: ISPI Europe has become the professional home for a vivid European network of HPT experts. And, it is becoming the footprint of ISPI in Europe. We are pleased to have had presentations from Don Tosti, Carol Panza, Margo Murray, Brian Desautels, and Roger Addison at our previous conferences. We are glad to announce that Roger Kaufman has accepted our invitation as Key Note Speaker in Lisbon this year. Hope to see you there!



Andreas will participate on a panel addressing the “I” in ISPI on Wednesday, April 21 at the Annual Conference in Tampa.


The ISPI Research Committee is now accepting proposals for the 2004-2005 Research Grant Awards. The Request for Proposal (RFP) is available by clicking here. All persons or groups who would like to apply are encouraged to do so by accessing the RFP and following the instructions. The deadline for submissions is May 27, 2004.

ISPI was founded by a group of researchers and has a long tradition of encouraging performance-improvement practices that are supported by scientific research. This emphasis on proven research-based practices has distinguished ISPI from its inception. If you have questions about this year’s research grant program, contact the Research Committee Chair, Will Thalheimer at will.thalheimer@work-learning.com.



EPSScentral is now accepting submissions for the 2004 Performance Centered Design Awards! The PCD Awards showcase innovation that best represents performance-centered design (PCD) in two general categories: PCD Solutions and Extraordinary PCD Tools.

The submission deadline is midnight June 1, 2004. Awards will be announced on or before August 1, 2004. Award-winning entries will be featured on http://www.epsscentral.info in perpetuity, and at several PCD-related conferences throughout the fall. Click here to see the full announcement, entry forms, and so on.

In addition, EPSScentral is accepting applications for judging. To qualify, you must have at least five years of aggregate experience in one or more of the fields that comprise PCD, and you must have completed at least three PCD projects or contributed to the development of at least three releases of one or more PCD development tools. You cannot judge and submit an entry to the PCD Awards.



In the February issue of PerformanceXpress, an article was published inviting you to volunteer to serve as a track chair or evaluator for ISPI’s 2005 Annual Conference Program Committee. Some of the information presented in the article was incorrect. Individuals interested in serving as track chairs or evaluators for the 2005 ISPI Annual Conference are eligible to present and may submit proposals for the conference. Reviewers submitting proposals will not be allowed to comment or participate in the review process for their proposals.



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
EPSS Revisited is an essential reader for students and practitioners of performance-centered design (PCD). From job aids and “bolt on” EPSS to ground-up enterprise performance-centered systems, you will find gems in terms of methodology, industry trends, and a plethora of real-world examples.

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 these workshops in 2004: The Criterion Referenced Testing Workshop, San Francisco, May 17-18; Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training, Chicago, May 4-6; and The Instructional Developer Workshop, San Francisco, April 26-28. Visit www.dsink.com for details and to register!

Public Workshop by Thiagi. Learn Thiagi’s radical approach to instructional design. Faster, cheaper, better (and fun at no extra charge). Secrets of training design based on 30 years of fieldwork that challenges the traditional ISD model. Palo Alto, CA: June 17-18. More Information.





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
Performance Improvement Quarterly, co-published by ISPI and FSU, is a peer-reviewed journal created to stimulate professional discussion in the field and to advance the discipline of Human Performance Technology through literature reviews, experimental studies with a scholarly base, and case studies. Subscribe today!

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




Are you working to improve workplace performance? Then, ISPI membership is your key to professional development through education, certification, networking, and professional affinity programs.

If you are already a member, we thank you for your support. If you have been considering membership or are about to renew, there is no better time to join ISPI. To apply for membership or renew, visit www.ispi.org, or simply click here.



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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