Sometimes a pre-prepared, content-set
seminar, complete with perfectly stated objectives just doesn’t
cut it. Occasionally, what is needed is to spend a few hours or even
a whole day delving into questions, issues, curiosities, and concerns
about a specific topical area generated by the participants themselves.
That’s what the potpourri session (a miscellaneous mixture of things)
is all about.
In the example provided, I’ve applied this concept
to the broad field of instructional systems design (ISD). However, as
will soon become apparent, you can employ the same potpourri pattern
with any content, set of issues, or discipline from abstract art, baseball,
and calligraphy to xenogenesis, Yiddish, and zither music. Basically,
the purpose of the potpourri session is to share ideas, explore themes,
and acquire new insights about a range of topics related to a general
area of interest. It is an opportunity for participants to explore, with
the help of a subject-matter expert, themes that are of specific interest
Some of the solid characteristics of this type of session
are it: quickly engages participants who are pre-sensitized; offers opportunities
to delve into topics that are often ignored; and allows the leader-facilitator
to provide a broad assortment of documentation that, because of the session,
acquires heightened significance for the participants.
it work? Let’s use ISD as our theme. Prior to the potpourri session,
the leader sends out a list of topics from A to
Z to trigger suggestions (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Sample List of ISD Related
analysis; attitude learning and testing; assessment tools and methods,
action learning, architectures for learning
in instruction; behavior change; behavior modeling
and learning; concept analysis; change management and instruction;
criterion-referenced instruction/testing; cognitive strategies;
competency vs. performance-based training
effective learning; delivery systems; developmental testing, directive
learning, discovery learning
ethics; effectiveness vs. efficiency in instructional design; esthetics
in materials development; e-learning, exploratory learning
formative evaluation; friendly learning programs
principles; game design, guided discovery methods
difficult and demanding clients/SMEs; HRD vs. ISD; hierarchical
task analysis; human performance improvement/technology
teaching-learning; innovative instructional design strategies;
aids; journals for instructional designers
spirits,” a terrific ice-breaking activity; knowledge management
types and hierarchies; learner controlled instruction; learning
management systems; learning content management systems; learning
organization; learning vs. training
learning; managing the training function; media impact and selection;
technologies for learning; networking
ways to design instruction; overt and covert procedures
support tools and systems; print rules and materials; peer learning;
performance technology; performance objectives, project management
construction; questioning strategies
resources for instructional designers; recycling instruction; reciprocal
learning, resource management formats for exploiting existing materials
system approach; systemic thinking; self-instruction (self-learning);
strategies to increase learning and retention
training; teaching vs. learning; time management in instructional
design; task analysis
methods; uniform standards
design (visuals vs. visibles); variation of stimuli and methods
and its impact on learning
design; war stories about instructional design; worries of instructional
X—“Xs” and “Os”—a
simple lecture or quiz format
and your professional development
gaming and learning
The list is only an opener—a teaser menu—to stimulate
questions and provoke reflection. Participants can either select from
the menu offerings or generate their own items. Once these are chosen—and
every participant must select or request at least one item—they
are sent back to the leader, who sorts them, pulls themes together and,
if necessary, sends out the list of choices for rank ordering. This is
done when too many items are requested for the time allotted. Incidentally,
having designed and delivered this type of session numerous times, I
have rarely had to initiate a second round. The reason: Often I’m able
to discover some brief, useful materials or resources dealing with proposed
outlying items and have simply included them for rapid
treatment in the potpourri package of materials.
Now, for the major work. Once the potpourri list of items
has been created, the leader has two main tasks. The first is to research
and pull together a collage of information and materials, based on the
items, to share with the group. The second is to design an activity dealing
with each item or theme. Figure 2 shows three items and activities for
a potpourri on ISD.
Figure 2. Sample Selected Items
and Activities for an ISD-Related Potpourri
vs. performance-based training
concept analysis of “competency” and “performance.” Presentation
of definitions and examples.
of participant proposed training topics.
of the difference in approaches using participant topics.
teams apply the two approaches to a proposed training topic.
lecture on key concepts and KM definition.
of a systematic approach to KM.
of two “real-world” examples.
of a handout on “How to create a KM system.”
discussion on requirements, necessary organizational
maturity level, readiness level, what is needed to implement,
lecture on four models of interactive teaching-learning.
practice and model each.
and discussion drawing out key principles.
* There is a package of materials covering
all items, some from existing sources, others specifically prepared
Running the session is a lot of fun since it is created based
on what the participants have selected. You start the session with the
establishment of an agenda and the setting of priorities. Then, in a
fast-paced and interactive mode, everyone becomes involved.
Participants leave with a plethora of materials, resources,
new knowledge, and often some newly acquired skills. You can build into
the potpourri session mini and micro workshops, team activities, spontaneous
testing of concepts, principles and procedures and, of course, plenty
of lively discussion. Participants leave with a better understanding
of many aspects of a topic or field about which they were initially unaware.
Instructional designers are always hunting for stimulating
strategies that help learner-participants acquire a lot of knowledge
and skill in a short time frame. The potpourri session is definitely
an instructional framework that mixes high effectiveness with efficiency.
It is fun and not too difficult to create. It requires all participants
to make an investment up front. It focuses on participant driven items.
Best of all, it works!
Harold D. Stolovitch, PhD, CPT, is a past president of
ISPI and recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to learning
and performance. His two recent books, co-authored with Erica J. Keeps, Telling
Ain’t Training and Training
Ain’t Performance, are bestsellers. Harold
will be the keynote speaker at ISPI’s Performance-Based ISD Conference and
may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
||To learn more of
Tips, Tools, Techniques, and Other Tantalizing Tidbits, attend ISPI’s
2004 Performance-Based ISD Conference from Sept. 30-Oct.
2, in Chicago, IL.
by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, EdD, CPT
Marc Rosenberg, PhD,
CPT, and a past president of ISPI, shares his views of the future with
us this month. Marc, who may be reached at email@example.com, is an independent
consultant specializing in performance improvement, e-learning solutions,
and knowledge management. In our conversation, Marc focused on the
economy and the needs of the workplace.
Top Three Predictions
First, Marc foresees
an increase in work-based learning in the next two to three years. Organizational
decision makers want learning to take place in the context of the job
to maintain the work focus and save time. This will challenge learning
professionals to design and perhaps deliver differently.
will exhibit a renewed interest in evaluation and certification in their organizations to show evidence
of the effectiveness of performance improvement interventions, to justify
the investment in them, and to demonstrate improved performance through
business results. Performance consultants will have to respond with
increased skills and abilities in these areas.
Third, there will be
a significant shift from formal learning experiences to information
provided at point of need. Workers will be able to access information when they need
it through updated databases. Training will become experiential and
providers will have to make the distinction between information and
training. In addition, we will need increased skills in information
design and writing for readability.
Reasons for Predictions
Workers must focus
on productivity and keep up their skills to continually improve their
performance. How do we address this? What we do is integrate the
learning into the work, rather than pulling workers off the job to learn. Effectively, this
will raise the operating level for many performance improvement practitioners
from an emphasis on people to an emphasis on the processes that engage
The recent Internet
boom encouraged huge expenditures in all parts of the performance improvement
business. After the crash back to reality, executives re-thought their
strategies and tightened their purse strings. Most of us have first-hand
experience with the difficulties associated with getting funding for
performance improvement these days. The good news is that computer
technology really works. The challenge, not necessarily the bad news,
for performance consultants is to establish and prove the business
case to use technology to deliver better learning and information.
We are living in the
midst of an information explosion. This means we must learn to select
and separate what is important and useful, especially if we wish to
remain sane. What will help everyone is reliable access to good information on the job. Today, we have the tools to assess
how workers access and use information. We have the ability to connect
the people who are using the same information in identified communities
effectively enhancing the quality of both the data selected and the
experience of locating it. (For more information on professional
communities, read Don Tosti’s “From the Board” article
in this issue.)
How Organizations Will be Different
We in HPT have unique
strengths in diagnostics (front-end work) and evaluation (on the back-end).
Marc sees these skills becoming increasingly important as stakeholders
focus on the results of performance improvement interventions targeted
to solve business problems.
While there is much
play in the media about the outsourcing of business, Marc reminds us
that all organizations are not equally suited or equipped to competently
perform all business tasks. For many, particularly the growing small
business sector, it makes good sense to outsource HR or training, for
example, to qualified providers. This means we, in performance improvement,
will be managing a wider array of resources from outside suppliers
and carefully selected partners. We will need to become more skilled
at selecting and managing these partnerships. (Partnering ties directly
into ISPI’s fourth Standard
of Performance Technology.)
We will use more project
management and leadership skills, and our creativity will be called
into play more frequently. We will also develop increased diligence
and selectivity about purchased products and services.
Implications for Marc Rosenberg & Associates
to see senior management clients demonstrate an increased interest in
and the bigger picture of where their organizations need to go. These
folks see that they need a broader context for performance improvement.
Today, it is becoming more common for a senior manager to say, “We
want to improve performance,” rather than offering solutions
to be implemented. The performance improvement conversation continues
to get easier.
in resource allocation are opening doors to new ways to improve performance.
Many organizations no longer support huge arrays of trainers. However,
with skill, luck, and being in the right place at the right time, Marc
is finding more open ears among stakeholders at client organizations.
It will continue to become easier to sell results rather than activities,
and executives will continue to become more discerning about their
investments in learning.
and Quality Center (APQC): www.apqc.org
KM World: www.kmworld.com
Resource Center: www.cio.com/forums/knowledge
for Training Professionals: www.marcrosenberg.com/pages/7/index.htm
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or http://home.mindspring.com/~carolhaig or
Roger Addison, EdD, CPT, at email@example.com.
Wouldn’t it be
nice if our users:
to us because they wanted to, not because they had to?
for input on early project decisions, rather than after they had already
our initiatives with the same anticipatory “buzz” that
accompanies the newest Victoria’s Secret catalog?
this vision is definitely better than nice—it’s marvelous! And all
we really needed to know about achieving this vision, we learned from
Victoria’s Secret. We are completely serious about this, any
jokes linking the cancellation of this year’s televised fashion
show to Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl exposure notwithstanding.
Remember, Fortune magazine ranked Victoria’s parent company,
Limited Brands, as its third most-admired specialty retailer.
We all knew what lingerie was before Victoria’s
Secret opened its doors. The difference is, Victoria’s Secret
targets, brands, and markets quality products to multiple audiences,
at multiple price points. Consequently, people sign up for email offers,
visit local stores, or shop online. Some even watch the fashion shows
on television or the Internet.
What accounts for this “pull”?
Victoria’s customer-centered focus is not accidental. It is engineered,
systematic, and systemic. Founder, chairman, and CEO Les Wexner launched
a major initiative in 1995 to “…build
brands that require a thorough understanding of our customers’ needs. A great brand
is like a great movie. It has a ‘wow!’ It elicits an emotional
response from each person that sees…[it].”
That “wow” factor
involves creating a “pull” for Victoria’s products—offering
customers what they can use and feel good about, closing gaps between
what they have and desire.
In HPT, creating “pull” means
meeting user needs in ways that create a demand. Maybe getting the “wow” and
creating a “pull” for lingerie is sexier than doing the
same for performance improvement. But, how much expertise and effort
has your organization really put into trying? As HPT practitioners,
we are often guilty of trying to “push” unwanted e-learning
to the masses we serve.
We suggest that HPT
practitioners consider creating a Victoria’s-style “pull” for
what we do. Doing this takes time, as users naturally resist solutions
that will bring changes to their roles and jobs. We learned that achieving
this goal requires:
methodologies like Rapid Application Development (RAD) that ensure
interventions meet end user needs while obtaining buy-in and support
solutions that make users want to
hearts and minds by addressing users’ levels of concern and stages
and branding solutions to create user demand
We cannot afford to
assume that “if you build it, they will come.” With few
exceptions, this notion falls short when it is used to justify a push-based
Contrary to linear
models of ISD and HPT, implementation needs to begin on Day 1 of a
development effort—if not before. If we want to be as successful
as Victoria’s, we need to collaborate with users to create a
pull for our e-learning and performance improvement solutions.
L. Stone, CPT, is the President and CEO of DLS Group, Inc. She has
than 20 professional
Award of Excellence for outstanding PSS and several ISPI awards.
Deborah has delivered more than 75 presentations and three Masters
co-wrote the chapter on EPSS appearing in the second edition of the
Handbook of Human Performance Technology. She may be reached at dstone@DLS.com.
W. Villachica, PhD, CPT is Chief Learning Officer for DLS Group.
His job is to ensure
performance improvement by leveraging cutting-edge
technologies based on proven research, theory, and best practices.
He co-authored the chapter on EPSS appearing in the second edition
of the Handbook of Human Performance
Technology, has written numerous publications on e-learning, and
is a frequent
conference presenter. Steve is a two-time
winner of ISPI’s Outstanding Systematic Approach award and
may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
||For a more in-depth look
at the Lessons Learned, attend ISPI’s 2004 Performance-Based
ISD Conference from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
recent “Best of the Best” online activity, we asked this
question: How can ISPI Chapters and the International Organization
(our headquarters) collaborate with each other more effectively? Thirteen
different responses we received. We used a convoluted scoring system
to select the best response within three nominal groups and then to
select the best of the best.
The winner, who received
a score of 73 points, is Michelle Halprin. Here’s her
Local Chapters are one of the best and most cost-effective
ways of recruiting new members into ISPI. To sustain and grow local
Chapters (or in some cases restore Chapters that have folded), ISPI
International needs to commit resources in the following ways:
volunteer consultants, such as the Regional Consultants that used to
services, such as offering free web pages on the ISPI.org site,
creating performance support tools to help Chapters run leadership/succession
planning programs, promotion of HPT certification, and so on
more recognition to Chapter activities through ISPI publications (PerformanceXpress, ISPI.org) and programs (conferences,
Our Society’s future depends on the vitality
of local Chapters.
Second place goes to Robert
Bodine who scored 50 points. Here’s
I have three points:
least one Board member who is responsible for Chapter health.
active, robust, and funded Chapter Partnership Committee.
partnering between Chapters and the Society via dual memberships, shared
administrative support, marketing tools, and leadership training.
We have all of these except the dual membership.
I support an ISPI membership that includes automatic membership in
and Chapter affiliations. A modest addition to the International dues
($50.00?) would bring an automatic membership in the closest Chapter
(or the one of your choice). This automatic dual membership would eliminate
the “we-they” syndrome and change the basis of the relationship
to one of shared membership, shared agenda, and shared purpose.
Third place goes to
our frequent contestant, Elsa Glassman. She responds:
We must be knowledgeable of, and promote, the membership
benefits of joining each, and encourage members to join both by offering
a discounted “JOINT
The other responses
also contained valuable ideas. Rest assured that these suggestions
will be carefully
reviewed by various decision makers and stakeholders—and appropriately
The general response to the creation
of the seven professional communities has been very positive. People
see them as a way of learning more about specific applications of the
technology and a way to increase their personal participation in the
field and in the Society. This was always one of the major purposes
for the creation of the professional communities. The second objective
was to enable people from outside of ISPI, who have common interests,
to share technical expertise with us.
We are taking steps
to continually develop the professional communities to make sure they’re
viable and can make a significant contribution to the field.
A special presidential
task force made a series of recommendations on how ISPI can further
develop and set up the professional communities. In the design, the
task force used the methodology of HPT. In other words, it started
with results and
worked backward to determine what could be done to achieve those results
and what kind of structure we must have to get it going. Here is the
tentative list of desired results:
Outcomes/Results for Individual Community
about real issues
to work together on a real problem (problem solving)
to plan to apply new learnings
way of looking at what you are doing today
for professional advancement
a professional reputation
to work on different issues (not in current work portfolio)
a logical argument for what does and does not work
Outcomes for ISPI
- Attract and retain members
- Provide a framework for awards, conferences,
- Provide a place to link/partner with
other societies and universities
- Increased opportunity
for membership involvement
- State-of-the-art practices
repository builds our professional reputation
- Broader base of interest extends application
areas and draws in contributions
- Increased revenue
- Establish ISPI as the authority for
Outcomes for the field of HPT
- Clarify for the world what you are
buying when you buy HPT services
- Broaden the knowledge base for practitioners/performance
- Provide a list of key questions
- Differentiate HPT from other disciplines
- Accelerate HPT applications
- More educated consumers of HPT services
- Improved quality and validity of publications
- Make the literature more visible
- Annual HPT review
- Map of the HPT landscape and its interaction
with other fields
Processes and Practices to Achieve the
task force then brainstormed some ways the communities might achieve
these outcomes as follows:
Process and Practices
about real issues
the stories (mechanism)
on real problems
- Roundtable on pre-set problems
issues (e.g., five days on an organization problem)
to plan to apply new learnings
of a workshop
services through the network
way of looking at what you are doing
people who have done “X”
for who has done the research and who has a different view
for professional advancement
in the network
a professional reputation
to work on different issues (outside regular work)
Outcome #2 Work on real problems)
out what works and what doesn’t work
Outcome #2 Work on real problems)
hits and myths
directory (literature, people, schools of thought, and
There will be seven
community founding directors, appointed for one year, who will establish
and oversee each community. In addition, a panel of thought leaders
will be assembled for each community to provide definition and scope.
We are actively looking for volunteers. Are you interested?
was named as the overall Community Advisor to work with the communities
for the next year. We are always eager to get more ideas. So, feel
free to add any suggestions for more outcomes or ideas for other means
that the communities can use.
As you can see, the
launching of the professional communities is both challenging and exciting.
Fasten your seat belts.
more than 40 years, ISPI’s Annual Conference has been an important
gathering place for performance improvement professionals, and 2005
is no exception! Whether your goal is to learn more about the process
of human performance technology, extend your list of professional contacts,
or learn new tools and technologies, you’ll find what you’re
looking for in Vancouver. Here are the Top 10 reasons to attend the
premier performance improvement event of 2005:
10. Gateway to Adventure:
After your six days of unparalleled performance education, Vancouver
offers quick and easy access to world-class ski resorts like Whistler
and the Canadian Rockies, as well as Victoria and Vancouver Islands,
9. Passports and
Visas are not Required for Travel from the U.S. to Canada: Although travel with a valid passport
is encouraged, U.S. citizens may travel to Canada with proof of U.S.
citizenship such as a certified copy of your birth certificate issued
by the city, county, or state in the U.S. where you were born, and
a current, valid drivers license. (For tips on travel to Canada, click here,
or for information on obtaining a U.S. Passport, click here.)
8. Closing Banquet
speaker, Harold Stolovitch humorously embarks on a lifetime of performance
pursuits that remind us of Pink Panther escapades: You’ll
be amused and enlightened as we travel through a series of Alice-in-Wonderland
questing for performance in all the wrong places…desperately seeking
to discover that prized performance treasure trove.
7. Great Value:
Vancouver offers a world-class experience and excellent value for your
West Coast in 180 minutes: Journey with ISPI as we explore Canada’s
West Coast. The experience begins the moment you enter a surreal
through fresh evergreen trees surrounded by the aroma of a British
Columbia Rainforest. Wander into Okanagan Wine Country, visit Little
Italy for delectable pasta, and grab a bite of sushi in Pan Asian
Square. Sample seafood and listen to crashing waves as you watch
a beautiful sunset off the shores of Vancouver Island. Whatever path
you follow, plan to enjoy food, drink, camaraderie, and an energetic,
electric ambiance that will enrapture you for hours at this new mid-conference
5. Your HPT Colleagues
from all over the world will be in attendance: Network with colleagues from more
than 20 countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland,
South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, and Australia.
4. Spectacular Setting:
Nestled between majestic mountains and sparkling ocean, Vancouver is
one of the most beautiful cities in the world and offers an unforgettable
3. The CPT Forum:
The Certified Performance Technologist Forum, a new feature introduced
at last year’s Annual Conference, returns to Vancouver.
The specialized program for CPTs will be finalized this month and information
will be available online.
2. Affordable Airfares:
Roundtrip airfares from major U.S. cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago,
San Francisco, and Seattle) ranging from $240-$370 over the dates of
conference. For additional savings, United and Continental Airlines
are offering special rates for conference attendees. Click
here for additional information.
1. The Premier HPT
Event of the Year:
The 43rd Annual International
Performance Improvement Conference—Process, Practice, & Productivity—spans
six days, starting with award-winning, three-day Human Performance
Technology Institutes, a premier line-up of pre-conference workshops,
more than 150 concurrent sessions,
and a Keynote presentation by Chip Bell, senior partner with Performance
Research Associates, Inc.
technologists, our charge is to identify meaningful gaps in performance
related to a documented business need, then design and deliver cost-effective
solutions that meet our clients’ conditions of satisfaction.
Clients include sponsors and stakeholders, “the people who will
be most affected by the outcome of your initiative” (Svenson,
2004, p. 29).
Often, we have conversations
to clarify and (re)confirm specifications over the lifecycle of a project.
Nevertheless, even when we do and certainly when they are missing or
insufficient, clients may have expectations at odds with what has been
discussed or even agreed on. Consider that the issues we typically
address are one of two types: puzzles or problems (Lazar & Bergquist,
2003; Bergquist & Greiner, 2004).
Puzzles have simple answers and are unidimensional,
quantifiable, and have an internal locus of control. An example would
be determining what performance feedback to give to a subordinate. Problems are multidimensional, interdisciplinary,
and complex. Here, an example would be developing a compensation system.
We have noticed a client bias toward misunderstanding the performance
issue in question as simpler and quicker to solve/resolve/dissolve
than it actually is. In other words, our clients tend to treat complex
issues (problems) as if they are simple issues (puzzles). What to do?
Having other conversations,
ones to secure client engagement and ongoing commitment, can be crucial
to the success of our project (Svenson, 2004). For example, project
success has been linked to sponsors and stakeholders:
- clearly approving the project and its deliverables over
- being active, responsible participants rather than simply
passive customers, especially in the early stages of the project;
- being sold and resold on the project and its benefits
to the organization (Greer, 1999).
Drawing on the project
planning model (ibid), there are a couple of outputs we can create
that can structure the above conversations:
- a preliminary project planning document that will
both guide team members’ subsequent actions and secure sponsors’ and
stakeholders’ approval for the project; and
- an extended set of deliverables specifications
for sponsors’/stakeholders’ review
Using these, we reduce
the effort and expense of rework due to unclear or changing requirements
and unstated assumptions. So, take the time to communicate as often
as needed with clients to stay engaged and committed to the project.
Listen, and then speak, to clarify and align expectations.
Bergquist, B. & Greiner,
N. (2004). The ethics of coaching: Traversing and comparing the three
Cs. International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, 2(3), 8-18.
Greer, M. (1999). Planning
and managing human performance technology projects. In H. Stolovitch
and E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of Human Performance Technology (2nd edition). San Francisco:
Lazar, J. & Bergquist,
B. (2003). Alignment coaching: The missing element in business coaching. International
Journal of Coaching in Organizations, 1(1), 14-27.
Svenson, R. (2004).
Winning every time: Six ways to make large-scale performance interventions
succeed. Performance Improvement, 43(3), 28-32.
John Lazar, MA, MCC has more than
20 years of experience applying performance technology and coaching
practices with individuals and teams to meet needs within organizations.
He is co-founder and co-executive editor of the International
Journal of Coaching in Organizations. John may be reached at email@example.com.
clients tend to treat complex issues (problems) as if they are
simple issues (puzzles).
summer fades into fall. September initiates a time
for preparation, reflection, and education, particularly as many students
return to school after summer vacation. Beyond the cooling temperatures
and change of colors in the part of the world I-Spy calls home, we
find that we truly enjoy this time of year. Join us this month as we
find others across the Internet who are also Into the Fall. Bring along your friendly, neighborhood geomorphologist
to check out the Chinese tufa!
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
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:
- E-Klatch: Links to professional associations, research,
and resources that can help refine and expand our views of HPT through
connections with other professionals and current trends
- HPT@work: Links to job listings, career development, volunteer
opportunities, and other resources for applying your individual skills
- I-Candy: Links to sites that are thought provoking, enjoyable,
and refreshing to help manage the stresses and identify new ideas
time for many ISPI parents and faculty. For some lessons on how to
improve performance we could have learned in school, visit the American Association of School Administrators.
Performance technologists in all arenas can find value in the information
and resources provided. An example is a June 2000 article by John Conyers, When Status Quo
Won’t Do: A school district’s total quality initiative brings rapid
performance improvement, complete with a first grader quality assurance
monitor! The site also contains education-related job listings, information
on their 2005 Annual Conference (with Peter Senge as a general
session speaker), and an extensive set of links to additional online
education improvement resources.
Now, we all know that
PTers are out of this world. So, if you’re into the fall—low
gravity interplanetary freefall, that is—launch your web search
software and travel to the website of the Planetary
Society, “the largest space interest group on Earth.” With
more than 100,000 members from over 140 countries, this non-profit,
non-governmental organization “was founded in 1980 to encourage
the exploration of our solar system and the search for extraterrestrial
life.” The site contains information on various projects, including Two Worlds One Sun,
an international call to build sundials similar to the MarsDials NASA’s
Spirit and Opportunity rovers. ISPIers in Saudi Arabia, Australia,
and Japan (as well as other countries) take note, as they are seeking
people and organizations in many nations to set up these special “earthdials.” Imagine how you would describe your performance improvement challenges
read the day-to-day activities of scientists and engineers as they
monitor performance of the Galileo
mission to Jupiter. Among other educational features, on their links page, you can take SpaceWander.com’s 12-minute voyage across
our solar system from the comfort and safety of your keyboard—travel
millions of miles above the earth with no fear of falling!
And now, for all of
us into waterfalls, an international potpourri of images: Waterfall Pictures
from Gullfoss in Iceland by Icelandic Artist Harri Eliasson—including
some stunning falls graced with rainbows. Next, visit Africa’s Kongou
Falls, “a two-mile-wide expanse of roiling water that thunders
through a chain of islands,” in the Congo
River Basin, from National Geographic magazine. Glance through the Oregon
(USA) Historical Society waterfalls gallery, with photos from the
late 19th and early 20th centuries. Our last stop is the International Association
of Geomorphologists “Karst of Guilin—China” image
gallery, where we learn: “Huangguoshu Falls are almost 80 m high
and almost as wide. The waterfall step is partly constructional.
Massive tufa accumulation takes place on the step and also on the opposite
side of the valley. The ‘Curtain Cave’ is a narrow gallery that
goes behind tufa-covered drop of the waterfall. In the vicinity, there
many more waterfalls of different drop and width making the area a
‘waterfall country’.” (FYI, tufa is
“a soft or porous stone formed by depositions from water, usually
calcareous; called also calcareous tufa”.)
May you have a safe
and pleasant end of summer. See you in October for more cyber-harvesting!
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 Shaker Heights, Ohio. He may
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
part in a compelling full-day, interactive
workshop on Tuesday, September 14, 2004, at The Washington Club in
Washington, DC. During this event, “A
Focus on Results: Learn What Works Best and How to Use It,” you’ll
discover an array of effective tools for improving performance in the
area of global health, and see how various projects have applied the
performance improvement approach successfully. For more information, click here. To
register to attend, contact Denise McNeill at email@example.com or
call 202.661.8021. The Public Health Institute/Population Leadership
Program for USAID is hosting this event with support from ISPI.
always harping about the dangers of
percent, something I learned about from Ogden
Lindsley. In fact, the second installment of this column back in April
of 2002 was devoted to the topic. I’ve returned to it often,
suggesting how misleading percentages can be when measuring results
or setting goals—without the original numbers from which those
percentages are derived. For example, an accounting report that only
lists percent of profit or percent of growth over quarters, but not
the actual dollar values, isn’t much use for managers or executives.
Here’s an example
we see so often that I’d pretty much forgotten how strange it
is. It’s the practice of setting goals or measuring and reporting
percentage of an employee’s time devoted to a certain activity.
I see this often in sales organizations where managers get the idea
that if sales people only spent a larger portion of their time calling
on customers, or following up, or contacting old customers, etc.—then
everything would be better. There are multiple problems with this approach.
First, it is not accomplishment-based.
In terms I discussed last
month in this column,
the “unit of analysis” is wrong. One can spend an infinite
amount of time in any activity (behavior), but if that behavior does
not produce the desired outputs or accomplishments, it is costly without
delivering value. I’ll never forget a consulting assignment I
had at a Fortune 50 company
where telesales people who had ongoing relationships with middle-managers
who were their repeat customers in companies were being encouraged
to spend a greater percentage of their time on the phone with customers.
It was called “talk time.” I observed these sales people
learning and using the names of their customers’ grandchildren,
talking about their weekend boating trips, and using all kinds of ploys
to keep these people on the line talking about largely irrelevant topics
(but pleasing their call center managers by increasing “talk
time”). After shifting the focus and measurement from percent
of time spent on activities to achieving various milestones with customers,
it was possible to significantly improve productivity. The message,
as Timm Esque pointed out in his article last month,
is that we need to focus on the results of
behavior when possible, not on the behavior itself.
The second problem is
with the percent score itself. A percentage is a dimensionless quantity
(Johnston & Pennypacker, 1980) that has no standard units of measurement
because they “cancel out” in the division calculation that
produces a percentage. So, we can’t tell how many hours that
a sales person is actually devoting to the activity from a percentage.
Some very successful field sales people work more than 40 hours per
week—and some spend less—so, we can’t assume a standard
number of hours in most cases. If we insist on targeting and quantifying
activity (rather than accomplishments), we should actually record and
report number of hours devoted to types of activities. For example,
the sales person might try to spend at least six hours per week calling
prospective customers, figuring an average duration per call. Or, she
might try to reduce sales reporting time to one hour per week, and
so on. These actual numbers of hours can be calculated into an overall
schedule of priorities and estimated workloads. They can be fit into
various slots in the day or week and generally better managed.
So, the key points are
that it’s better to measure outputs or accomplishments (sometimes
called “milestones” in ongoing processes such sales); and
it’s better to target and report actual numbers of things rather
than percentages alone. When reporting results, it’s sometimes
helpful to include ratios or percentages. Just don’t leave
out the actual numbers!
Johnston, J.M. & Pennypacker, H.S. (1980). Strategies and
tactics of human behavioral research. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum
Dr. Carl Binder is a Senior Partner at Binder Riha
Associates, a consulting firm that teaches clients the FluencyBuilding® performance
improvement methodology, practical measurement strategies and tactics,
and Six Boxes® performance management. His easy-to-remember
email address is 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.
In the August 2004 issue of PerformanceXpress,
you read about a bank in a rocky situation, all blamed on bad training.
This time, let’s find
out how the bank began to recover after a “bad training experience.” Join
Willy, the consulting training manager, and the branch managers as
they work toward performance improvement.
Willy: “Can you tell me how things
are going at the east
and west (E-W) branches
E-W Managers: “Things are
busy, but customers are being satisfactorily waited on. Tellers are
pace. We balanced and were
out of the branches by 5:30 last evening.”
Willy: “I’m happy to hear you’re
doing so well. Can you tell me how things are going at the south
and north (N-S) branches now?”
N-S Managers: “It’s a d-i-s-a-s-t-e-rrr! Tellers are crying, customers
are angry, lines are long, and no one has been able to balance so far.”
Willy: “I truly regret that is happening.
Since all the branch managers went through the same training, we may
what differences we can uncover in other areas, if we hope to improve
performance in the north and south. May we proceed by finding out what
else is going on? How are the computer systems themselves working in
the north and south branches?”
N-S Managers: “Oh, my! Our connectivity
has been up and down all day. A truck hit a utility pole nearby, and
for half an hour. Our phones were down, too, causing more customers
to come in.”
Willy: “Thank you for that feedback—it’s
absolutely important to hear. I’ll assign two vendor technicians
to your branches, until your technical issues are resolved. Just to pursue
a bit more research…can you tell me about how you prepared tellers
for a busy post-conversion day?”
E-W Managers: “Well, at the east and
west branches, we let them dress business casual this week, and there
was free lunch
Monday. We held
a pep rally with them Saturday afternoon, stressing the importance
of satisfying customers, even with a new system. We gave everyone new
bank T-shirts to wear this week. They’re pretty excited!”
N-S Managers: “At the north and south branches,
we told everyone to be prepared to work late this week, but instead of
they could take comp time off in a few months….”
Willy: “Good feedback. Hmmmm. It
seems that incentives could help the north and south branches. Let
me offer this: I’ll
send over a catered lunch every day this week to all the branches, free software vendor
T-shirts for everyone, and free sodas all week, too. Plus, I’ll
send two trainers over to help with the need for overtime. How does
N-S Managers: “Gee, those incentives
sound pretty good…maybe we
could have thought about that at the north and south branches…. I didn’t know we
had a budget for stuff like lunch….”
Willy: “Yes, I agree—incentives can be a big part of
our performance picture. Now, another question—what kind of training
and follow-up did you do with your tellers? And, what kind of motivational
efforts did you plan?”
E-W Managers: “Well, at the east and
west branches, we read an article in a banking industry newsletter about
best practices during a bank conversion. I also called the president
your software user group for her ideas. So, we held
practice sessions with each teller when the branch traffic was light,
during the last two weeks. We gave each teller a daily set of ‘real-world’ customer transactions and real balancing to perform on a practice system
We then checked their work, providing feedback and opportunities for
questions and additional practice. We gave them a laminated cheat sheet
with common transaction steps. We also kicked off a contest, where
every time the tellers balanced in the practice sessions, they received
a free movie coupon. The article recommended all that….
And, Your Highness, as you know, we invited you
out last week to speak to our tellers about how important this effort
was to our
bank, and how much you value their work and are confident in their
success. They were really thrilled to
be able to chat with you. Then, when the tellers were in last Saturday
afternoon, we asked them to sign on to the new system and post all
the night deposit work. That got them past their jitters, we think.”
N-S Managers: “Well, at the north
and south branches—well,
uh—we trained people the best we could—we’re not
trainers! We finished training
a month ago—they
should have remembered it! That’s what we pay them for! They’re
adults! And as far as motivation, isn’t
their paycheck enough? Nobody told us to do anything but train them….”
[You could have heard a pin drop.]
“You know,” said Shilly, who decided
this was her defining moment, “I think there’s something important
we’ve learned here—in addition to training, effective leadership,
motivation, incentives, systems, communication, and processes affect
performance. Let’s brainstorm
to find ways we can help the north and south branches get back on track,
the east and west branches for great performance.”
Conclusion: As It Should Have Been
The flawed roll-out
and subsequent complaints about Starr’s
re-training were catalysts to conversations, analyses, and solution
systems. With an opportunity to do this project again, it would be
important for King Rufus to embrace the following important precepts
about human performance technology:
a systems view
to add value
In this fable, all the king’s
staff partially implemented these principles very late in the game,
as part of damage control. The sad part is, the King could have had
a successful conversion—with a commitment to analysis for effective
performance—instead of looking to training as a silver bullet.
Charlotte Donaldson has spent her entire
career involved in all phases of training and performance improvement
for adults in
the workplace. Formerly with EDS and Bank of America, Charlotte is
currently a Learning Manager at Booz Allen Hamilton, Center for Performance
Excellence. She completes her master’s in Distance Education
from the University of Maryland University College in December 2004.
Charlotte may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
has the Oscar, television has the Emmy, theatre has the Tony, athletics
has the Olympics, and human performance improvement has the ISPI Awards
of Excellence! Each year, ISPI recognizes the people, products, innovations,
and organizations that represent excellence in our field. Those who
receive this honor take their place among the leaders in our field
and bask in the glory of international recognition! Renata Schmidt,
part of the Carney, Inc. team that received an Outstanding Instructional
Product or Intervention Award in 2004, says,
“Receiving the Award
of Excellence has brought us additional status and recognition in
the eyes of current
and potential Carney clients. Among awards, this one has a special
stature, coming from an international organization known for its
rigor in human performance improvement. As such, it serves to validate
our professional efforts. It also brought a special—and important—benefit
to our client team, who received recognition from throughout their
Tremendous human performance
improvement work goes on inside organizations across the world every
day. People like you are making a difference, getting results, and
blazing a trail. Lucky for you, the ISPI Award of Excellence program
is not like other awards programs. You do not have to wait
for others to recognize your genius and nominate you. You can nominate
Simply download the submission
packet from the ISPI website, send it in by October 15, 2004,
and you could be on your way to receiving the respect and recognition
that is appropriate
in Class” performance! You might be wondering how the ISPI Award
of Excellence program selects the best of the best. True to the Society’s
roots and principles, awards are bestowed on all who meet the rigorous
criteria, rather than pitting one excellent submission against another.
Whether you are part
of a corporate human performance team or an independent consultant,
receiving an ISPI Award of Excellence can have a great impact. Kendall
Ence, CIT of the WellPoint, Inc. team that also won an award for Outstanding
Instructional Product or Intervention in 2004, raves:
“Exhilarating! An amazing interaction
with the Masters of HPT. The experience has helped place our department
high on the company’s ‘performance radar’. This, and many other
HPT successes, has other departments within the company beating a
path to our door for the services we offer!”
What greater satisfaction
is there in the human performance improvement industry than people
learning about, appreciating, and seeking out the benefits of our work!
ISPI’s Award of Excellence program is one way to shine a spotlight
on your efforts. The award recipients of 2004 are passing you the torch.
Run with it. Go for ISPI Gold in 2005!
Experian is a global leader in providing information solutions
to organizations and consumers. It helps organizations find, develop,
and manage profitable customer relationships by providing information,
decision-making solutions, and processing services. It empowers consumers
to understand, manage, and protect their personal information and assets.
Experian works with more than 40,000 clients across diverse industries,
including financial services, telecommunications, health care, insurance,
retail and catalog, automotive, manufacturing, leisure, utilities,
property, e-commerce, and government. Experian is a subsidiary of GUS
plc and has headquarters in Nottingham, UK, and Costa Mesa, Calif.
Its 13,000 people support clients in more than 60 countries, and annual
sales exceed $2.2 billion.
Under the leadership
of Steve Hellman, Vice President of Learning & Organizational
Effectiveness, Experian brings together human performance technology
(HPT) professionals with expertise of all business units across North
America. Experian’s Learning and Organizational Effectiveness department
is committed to assisting internal business partners achieve their
business priorities through the HPT solutions provided to their organization.
Fourteen of Experian’s Learning & Organizational Effectiveness
staff have earned their Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation.
Cathleen Smith Hutchison, (aka Cathie),
died August 17, 2004 after a four and a half year battle with breast cancer.
Cathleen received a BA in Art History from the University of Michigan,
and a Masters in Instructional Technology from Wayne State University.
As a performance technologist, she created training and non-training interventions
for employees of Chrysler Auto Company, Botsford Hospital in Detroit, General
Motors Corporation, Sandia National Labs, British Airways, and Honeywell
Manufacturing Company. She started her own consulting business, Conifer
Consulting, while in Colorado, and changed the name to Metamorphosis when
she moved to New Mexico. Cathie served on the executive boards of the International
Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (IBSTPI)
and the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). In addition,
she contributed many articles to professional journals (such as “A
Whole New World of Interventions: The Performance Technologist as Integrating
Generalist”, “Concept Reading: A Process for Re-engineering”,
and “Potential Strategies and Tactics for Organizational Performance
Improvement” for Performance and Instruction), as well as
chapters in numerous books (such as the Competency series
produced by IBSTPI, the Handbook of Human Performance Technology edited
by H. Stolovitch & E. Keeps, and several Toolkits & Sourcebooks
edited by M. Silberman) currently being used in trainer certification programs
at major universities and corporations. After moving to New Mexico, Cathie
became an award-winning quilter, and had recently started a company called
Scene Through the Needle’s Eye. Memorial contributions can be made
to Susan B. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation or to the National Foundation
for Ectodermal Dysplasias.
Ronald E. Zemke, a
well-known business writer and consultant, died August 17, 2004 after
a long illness. Ron was president of Performance Research Associates,
a Minneapolis consulting company he founded in 1972 to conduct organizational
effectiveness and productivity improvement studies for business and
industry. He was a consultant to many Fortune 500 companies,
including Wachovia Bank and Trust, Citibank, and American Express Financial
Advisors. He was author or co-author of 38 books, senior editor of
Minneapolis-based Training Magazine, and a syndicated columnist
with the American City Business journals. Ron’s best-selling 1985 book Service
America! Doing Business in the New Economy is widely credited with
starting the American customer service revolution. His Knock Your
Socks Off Service series of 11 customer service books spread his
service gospel to millions of readers. His wit and wisdom—and
passion for sharing them—led to a four-decade career as an author
and public speaker. He was an astute observer of business trends, and
his vivid prose and distinctive style earned him recognition throughout
the management world. In 1994, he received the Mobius award from the
Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals and was named one of America’s
“new quality gurus” by Quality Digest Magazine. In
1999, he was given the Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional
Award by the International Society for Performance Improvement. He
graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA, in 1960 and completed
graduate work at the University of Minnesota. He served on the Board
of Directors of the Minnesota Orchestra and was a vice president of
the Board of Directors of Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Ron’s diverse interests
made him a memorable teacher, colleague, and friend. Memorial donations
may be made to the American Cancer Society or Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church
West, Victoria, MN.
Thanks to The MASIE Center’s TRENDS readers and e-Learning
Consortium Members, more than 1,000 e-Learning tips were received, analyzed,
and categorized. From the information, the MASIE Center edited and compiled
a book containing 141 pages and 14 chapters of tips covering the ABC’s
of getting started to global implementation strategies. To download
the entire book (13 megabytes) for FREE, click
here. You can print it out, share it with colleagues, or read the
PDF file on your computer screen.
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 email@example.com or
This second edition of Fundamentals
of Performance Technology contains
two new appendices that describe the ISPI developed Standards of
Performance of Technology and map the content of Fundamentals
of Performance Technology and Performance Improvement
Interventions to those Standards.
Performance Consulting According to Rummler uses
an extensive case study to illustrate what a serious performance
consulting engagement looks like, and what a serious performance
consultant does. Do you have what it takes to be a SPC?
Performance is a whimsical, entertaining, and solidly
written book that addresses human performance. From beginning
to end, readers are guided toward an understanding of human
performance improvement and how to use it for real organizational
and pizzazz to your training. Whether it’s a 45-minute
presentation or a week-long workshop, Thiagi can make your training
come alive with interactive experiential activities. Nobody does
instructional design faster, cheaper, and better than Thiagi.
L. Sink & Associates, Inc. is
offering these workshops for Fall 2004: Designing Instruction
for Web-Based Training, Atlanta, September 14-16; The Instructional
Developer Workshop, Los Angeles, September 21-23; The Criterion
Referenced Testing Workshop, Oak Brook, IL, October 5-6. Visit www.dsink.com to
Job and Career Resources
Online CareerSite is your source for performance improvement
employment. Search listings and manage your resume and job applications
The International Journal of Coaching
in Organizations (IJCO) is a professional journal, published
quarterly to provide reflection and critical analysis of coaching
in organizations. The journal offers research and experiential
learning from experienced practitioners representing various coaching
schools and methodologies.
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
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
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In addition to the article, please include a short bio
(2-3 lines) and a contact email address. All submissions should be sent
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each article will
be reviewed by one of ISPIs on-staff HPT experts, and the author
will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any
further questions, please contact email@example.com.
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