International Society of Performance Improvement Newsletter
November 2004


Research Sources for Practitioners

Got research? Know where to find it? We are asking ourselves to recognize when our applications are “grounded in prior research or empirical evidence (or are not discouraged by either one)” (ISPI Presidential Initiative Task Force, 2004). This does not mean we can’t use our intuition to recommend something to a client—but it does mean that we should consider whether there is evidence to support our suggestion—or evidence to the contrary.

In other words, what makes me think that my recommendation will produce the desired results? Is there research that suggests that this application will work in this kind of situation? Or, is there evidence that it will not work?

What does this mean for our everyday work? Where do you look? How much inquiry is enough? At what point should we, as practitioners, determine that there is enough positive or negative evidence to inform our recommendations for action? (Do I have to spend the rest of my life in the library?)

Thoughts About Research Sources

Jeanne Farrington, EdD, CPT, is President of J. Farrington Consulting. She is a long-time ISPI member, a past member of the Board of Directors, and has contributed to publications and many conferences. Jeanne may be reached at


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Trendspotters: An HPT View
by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, EdD, CPT

This month we thought you might welcome a change of pace. Rather than presenting an interview, we are going to share an experience from ISPI’s 2004 Annual Conference in Tampa. At the conference, we gave a presentation called TrendSpotters: An HPT View. Its cornerstone was the TrendSpotters Menu that presents, in categories, the many trends our guests in this column have discussed. The purpose of the session was to explore trends that will impact our organizations and our HPT work in the near future.

The eight TrendSpotters Menu categories are: Customer Service, Economy, Human Performance, Interventions, Measurement & Results, Models & Tools, Performance Consulting, and Strategic Planning. From this foundation, we built the session around leveraging Menu information so attendees could identify and discuss trends of significance to them and their clients.



Customer Service

  • Know your customer continues to be a focus of organizations
  • The connection between the employee experience and the customer experience will become more pronounced as organizations value and explore ways to maximize this relationship


  • Tight economy
  • Increased competition for products, services, and people
  • Globalization continues
  • Increased outsourcing of entire functions
  • Increased offshore contracting to develop training projects and programs

Human Performance

  • Organizations want to get the most performance from their existing employees
  • Both international and global organizations are actively seeking first-class performance improvement programs


  • Information revolution continues
  • Well-designed implementation is valued as key to any intervention’s success
  • New evidence of the power of motivation to increase performance

Measurement & Results

  • Organizations seek the most cost-effective path to results and are enabling workers to find this path for themselves
  • Measures and analysis will encompass both hard and soft performance results, seeking key performance indicators and intangibles, such as added value beyond financial measures

Models & Tools

  • High failure rate of such interventions as Total Quality Management and downsizing has generated new organizational change models
  • The growth of complex technologies is fueling the need for new knowledge capture models

Performance Consulting

  • Increased competition among providers of HPT-related products and services
  • Increased emphasis on performance at the organizational level
  • Increased interest in human performance improvement that will move us from focusing on training and learning as a means, to performance-valued accomplishments as an ends
  • HPT practitioners will experience a return to our HPT roots
  • Performance consulting, HPT tools and techniques will migrate to HR and line managers as a problem-solving process for the “human” side of the business
  • Increased broker/solutions provider role
  • Increased solution-free performance consulting
  • Increased strategic relationships based on access, credibility, and trust
  • Increased integration of analytical methods and HPT solutions into a comprehensive theoretical framework that organizations will be able to fit together and use to grow the business and deliver value
  • Continued and increased interest internationally in HPT and the HPT approach to improving performance

Strategic Planning

  • Organizations are beginning to shift from the short-term focus of the last 10-15 years to one centered on longer-term systemic management
  • Organizations will be looking for ways to create greater value for their stakeholders
  • Leaders will take an increasingly macro-level view of the purpose and values of their organizations
  • Organizations will align their OD, HR, and training practitioners to a performance improvement approach to maximize efficiencies and add value for all stakeholders
  • Increased off-shore outsourcing of tactical processes, with strategic process the remaining focus

Table 1. TrendSpotters Menu

The benefits of this session included increased 1) knowledge of business trends, 2) ability to assess the effects of trends on their organizations, and 3) ability to use trend information to benefit clients.

In small teams, participants identified trends of consequence in their work. Then, they posted these trends in the categories identified in the TrendSpotters Menu and assessed the impact of each trend on three levels, as applicable: Individual HPT Practitioner, Organization/Industry, and the Field of Performance Improvement.

Next, the participants chose the single most critical trend for their individual work situation and listed both the opportunities and challenges the trend presented.

Finally, the group selected the most significant trends from those posted at each of the three levels. Below are the results.

Individual Practitioner Level
Trend #1: The enhanced integration of processes, workforce development groups, and product development provides a holistic picture of the target audience for all job roles supported.

Trend #2: Shared models that start with desired results and work backward mark the integration of training and work. The Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) Standards of Performance Technology and Code of Ethics provide a framework for these models.

Organization/Industry Level
Trend #3: Concurrent engineering, where a multi-disciplined approach to engineering projects and problem solving is used, helps link functional areas, eliminate duplication of work, and cut down silos.

Trend #4: Managing performance virtually for projects, consulting services, management of teams, and global mergers is becoming more prevalent in organizations.

Trend #5: Increasingly, organizations are taking a performance approach without retrofitting existing training functions, almost as if they are skipping the more typical “growing pains” we usually see.

Performance Improvement Field Level
Trend #6: The consultant as generalist is becoming a specialist who looks at the entire performance system and is supported by niche experts who can address specialties within that system.

Trend #7: There are many more HPT learning resources today than in the past.

Our Thoughts
As we look back on this session and review the trends we have reported on, we see that there continues to be shared views, connections among personal experiences, and a strong interest in how best to harness trends information for daily use.

Session Participants
We very much appreciate the interest and energy of the colleagues who joined us in Tampa and contributed their insights to this session. Special thanks to: Jamie Barron, Capella University; Bob Carleton, The Vector Group; Kay Gallogly, Human Performance Strategies; Doris Greenwood and Barry Kneeland, Hewlett-Packard Co.; Laurie Wilson Ihry, Pearson Education; Jeff Loube, Odyssey Consulting Ltd.; Sammy McCubbins and Diane Stroud, State Farm Insurance; Julie Miller, Miller Training Development, Inc.; Sandra Mueller, Workplace Learning & Performance Improvement; Connie Swartz and Lori Turec, Creative Courseware, Inc.; John Swinney, Bandag, Inc.; Celia Szelwach, Creative Collaborations Consulting, Inc.; and Hugh Wetmore, Williams.

If you have any predictions about the future of HPT that you feel would be of interest to the PerformanceXpress readership, please contact Carol Haig, CPT, at or or Roger Addison, EdD, CPT, at


The Dollar Gain from Building Competencies

Performance consultants are often faced with the task of measuring workforce job competencies. If the competence level of the workforce changes, this ought to be worth dollars to an organization. But exactly how much is the change worth? How do we calculate it? Typically, a specialized study is needed, such as a Level 4/Level 5 measure of training effectiveness. Is it not possible to set up an equation, and then plug numbers into it to calculate the dollar value of competence changes? Yes, as long as we want to make a couple of basic assumptions. This article will show how.

Competence measurements can be taken whenever a performance appraisal is done. It is common for organizations to track appraisal ratings on human resources’ software, so data is readily available for use. If a special competence measurement is needed, such as before and after a training class, the same metrics as used for appraisals can be used to get updates.

First, a couple of assumptions about the dollar value of human performance. The first assumption is that the dollar value of a job is worth the average salary being paid to the incumbents. This is certainly a safe assumption for organizations would scarcely want to argue that a job is worth less than the salary being paid to people.

However, total employee cost is more than salary. There are benefits such as vacation, health insurance, life insurance, college tuition, and bonuses. In addition, organizations incur other costs to keep someone on the payroll such as office space rental, furniture, cell phones, computers, software, and utility bills. A very conservative second assumption I will make is that keeping someone on the payroll is twice the individual’s salary. An employee earning $50,000 per year costs $100,000 per year to keep on the payroll when bonuses, benefits, and equipment and office costs are added in. So, a person with a $100,000 salary would cost $200,000 per year. The actual cost is likely more than this, but assuming twice the individual’s salary is a conservative estimation.

With these assumptions in mind, I can now introduce an equation for calculating the dollar value of competence change. This is as follows:

Total Employee Cost


Dollar Gain/Yr.
No. of Competencies x
No. of Years x No. of Employees
No. of Competencies

CLT2 = the competence level at Time 2
CLT1 = the competence level at Time 1

The total net gain can be calculated as follows:
Total Dollar Gain — Cost of the Program = Total Net Gain (ROI)

Let me provide a bit of explanation for the equation, then we will look at an example. We calculate the Total Employee Cost by multiplying the base salary by two. Next, we divide this number by the number of competencies to determine the dollar value of one competency.

As for the change in the competence level, the second part of the equation, we simply make measurements of competence for the group that we are studying at two points in time. Since our equation is based on the cost per competency, we must multiply this by however many competencies we are studying. If we were studying two competencies at once, we could calculate the change in competence levels for the two competencies considered together as a composite.

We may also want to know the effects over a few years, and for this reason, we need to multiply by however many years we are studying. Competency change lasts quite long, so looking out over a few years is very appropriate. Last, we need to multiply by however many employees we are studying since our equation looks at total costs per employee. Last, we subtract out any costs from the total gain which we calculate. This shows us the return on investment (ROI).

Consider an example. An organization has 30,000 employees, which is roughly the average of the 500 largest organizations in the United States. Assume that the organization works very hard at building competence at customer satisfaction with both internal and external customers. Assume building customer satisfaction is just one of 15 competencies that is needed by the entire workforce, that we want to know the value of change over five years, and that the competence improvement was 17% (3.00 to 3.50) due to training, culture change, and other initiatives. Also, assume that the initiative cost totals $10,000,000. What is the dollar value of this change? The results follow:

3.50 – 3.00
1 x 5 x 30,000 = $250,050,000

$250,050,000 – $10,000,000 = $240,050,000

The total value to the organization over five years is an astounding $250,050,000 before subtracting costs! If the initiative costs $10,000,000 for training, consultants, etc., the Total Net Gain is still $240,050,000. Not a bad investment! And, a gain of this magnitude is realistic if the training and other aspects of the initiative are on target. Knowing the potential gain could help senior managers determine the benefits of undertaking such an initiative.

The tool presented here will enable performance consultants to directly and easily calculate the dollar gain from competence change. No specialized studies are needed. We merely get our data from regular performance appraisals done on competencies, and we update this data as necessary. Each manager can have such an equation on his/her personal “dashboard” to see the dollar impact of competence change throughout the year. Competencies change due to mundane things like retirements and new hires being added to staff as well as major initiatives. Managers and performance consultants should make such metrics and the equations a part of their daily work life.

Note: This article is an excerpt from Dennis’ recently released book Measuring Human Capital: Converting Workplace Behavior into Dollars published by KA Publishing.

Dennis Kravetz is president of Kravetz Associates, a national consulting firm based in Mesa, Arizona that specializes in human capital consultation. He has authored five books and more than 30 articles on management and human resources, and has won three national awards for innovations in the field. Dennis’ clients have included roughly half of the largest 500 companies in America as well as a number of government agencies. Dennis has a BS in Psychology from Purdue, and MS and PhD degrees in industrial psychology from the University of Illinois. He may be reached at


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Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design: Contest Results (and More)

Last month, I conducted a contest that required people to define performance-based instructional systems design in exactly 16 words. We received an impressive number of entries, including several from the same contestants. Here are the results:

The Winner
After several rounds of reflection and argument, our international panel of judges selected the following entry from Bill Wake as the winning entry. (Note: The judging panel’s decision is final.)

Tools to create—and know we’ve created—environments where learners don’t just know, they can do.

Special Mentions
We want to recognize Phil Shearrer as the contestant with the fastest reaction time. Here’s his entry, which reached us early in the morning on the first of October:

The delicate process of choosing the best way to help your lover push the right buttons.

Carrie Schiers submitted the most poetic entry:

There once was a trainer who wrote and wrote and joy! somebody actually used it once!

Ramona Lawrence ingeniously incorporated a graphic as a part of a PowerPoint® slide (to sneak in an extra word):

Systematic process utilized to arrange the instrumental [graphic showing a set of steps] in learning results-oriented behaviors that produce desired outcomes.

But Wait, There’s More
You have another chance to play. Here’s how the second round of the contest goes: Define performance-based instructional systems design in exactly eight words. Notice that the definition should contain exactly eight words. You must not use fewer than eight words or more than eight words.

By the way, you can compete in this second round even if you did not compete in the first. And, you can compete in this round even if you competed (and won) in the first.

How to Cheat
At the end of this article, I am appending several “16-word” definitions from the previous round of the contest. (Some people did not count correctly.) Review the concepts and the words and synthesize your own eight-word definition. Call this activity research or analysis or benchmarking.

Other Rules

16-Word Definitions


From the Board:
The International Factor in ISPI

Ever since I joined the National Society for Performance Improvement—as it was then known—a little more than a decade ago, membership outside the United States has grown steadily, reaching critical mass. The globalization of ISPI is a visible reality. ISPI has chapters in four continents (35% of ISPI total) and 425 international—and more than 1,500 local members—that hold annual ISPI conferences in Europe, Africa, Far and Middle East, and Australia.

ISPI’s goal for the coming years is not only to keep expanding our international membership and spreading the HPT approach, but to open new channels to receive and exchange expertise and ideas with our international colleagues, thus enriching and expanding concepts and practices required by a world where organizations must think globally while acting locally.

As an Argentinean consultant attending and presenting with my clients at ISPI conferences and institutes, the ISPI experience provided us with unique opportunities to interact with colleagues from other countries and cultures, exchange best practices, and increase our ability to conduct international projects.

For ISPI, the challenge ahead is to transition from globalization to internationalization.

While globalization is a one-directional process of dissemination of practices, technology, culture, and ideas, internationalization is a bi-directional process that requires the exchange and integration of different perspectives, thus developing cultural awareness and the ability to manage diversity.

The story of Euro Disney is a good example of the difference between globalizing and internationalizing. When Disney, seeking to globalize its business, opened Euro Disney in the surroundings of Paris, the occupancy rate at the hotel was far below the planners’ expectations. Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner, flew to Paris to discuss a solution to the problem with the European management team.

When European managers stated that room rates were too expensive for European visitors, Eisner pointed at one of Euro Disney’s parking lots and commented that he couldn’t understand why visitors driving Mercedes cars couldn’t afford such rates. A manager explained to him that Mercedes were middle-class, not luxury cars for European tourists.

Like those European managers, ISPI’s international members can provide the Society with unique perspectives, enrich the practical and theoretical foundations of our field, and help our organizations by preventing cultural barriers.

These are some examples of how ISPI is successfully developing an internationalist approach:

ISPI provides a unique environment in which to develop cultural awareness and exposure to international teamwork. Many years of consistent and open exchange has moved ISPI into an exciting new phase in which models, practices, and professionals from other cultures and regions are a regular component of our mainstream activities.

This is an exciting time to be a part of ISPI. I invite you all to explore our multiple international channels.


Pre-Conference Workshops Deliver a Wide Range of Topics and Depth of Information

ISPI’s Annual International Performance Improvement Conference is always about professional learning and growth; expanding the breadth and depth of what we know, how we do what we do, and the impact we have on work, education, and the international community. And, this year’s roster of pre-conference workshops delivers on both the breadth and depth commitments—breadth of topics and depth of both presenters and the insight they deliver.

With nearly 30 topics to choose from, this year’s line-up of pre-conference workshops is bound to have just what you’re looking for! The list includes some long-running favorites like Robert Brinkerhoff and Dennis Dressler’s, Connecting HPI to Business Goals and Metrics, and Roger Kaufman’s, Needs Assessment: What it is—How to get it done. Partnership is the theme in James Tamm’s Building Collaborative Partnerships and Thiagi’s workshops Faster, Cheaper, Better: Alternative Approaches to Instructional Design and The Four-Door Model: A Faster, Cheaper, and Better Approach to e-Learning Design. Bill Coscarelli, Sharon Shrock, and Patricia Eyres’ Constructing Level Two Evaluation and Certification Systems: Technical and Legal Guidelines also returns to the line-up. If you want to focus on our training roots, Carl Binder will help you in Building Fluent Performance, and just to make sure we don’t forget what counts—Bill Lee, will present on Evaluation.

This year’s list includes some new additions like Ray Svenson’s Business-Driven Strategic Planning for Learning and Development, Richard Gerson’s Winning the Inner Game of HPT, and Holly Burkett’s Using Action Plans to Manage, Measure, and Align Performance with Desired Results just to name a few. Regardless of what you’re looking for, we have it!

Remember, ISPI pre-conference workshops come in all sizes to fit your needs and schedule (half-, one-, and two-days), on Monday, April 11 and Tuesday, April 12. So, if you’re looking to gain a depth of knowledge from an established expert or a rising star, sign up for one these exciting learning experiences. Click here for the complete workshop descriptions, and register today!


Continuous Improvement Plan Malady: Diagnosis and Treatment
by Randy K. Kesterson

Many organizations experience the symptoms, but they do not know the diagnosis. If they do know the diagnosis, they do not know how to effectively treat the problem. What is this common disease? It is a fracture in an organization’s change initiatives—a broken continuous improvement program (CIP). There is, however, an effective treatment for this disease. By engaging leaders at various levels to understand the strategic plan, the change tools, and the people skills necessary for bringing the two together, organizations can write the prescription that best treats this problem within their unique culture.

Most companies experience this disease at some point, even those who do not have a formal CIP. Even in environments where the CEO does not encourage the use of improvement tools, such as Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and Supply Chain Management, these symptoms still exist, because where there is a process, there is at least one employee using such techniques, in order to make improvements. These companies actually run a risk of suffering more severe symptoms than those with a formal plan.

So what are the symptoms?

The root cause behind these common symptoms is one or more weak links in the Continuous Improvement Chain (see Figure 1): 1) Tool Set—there is a lack of knowledge in Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, Supply Chain Management, etc.; 2) Strategy—the strategic plan is either not clearly communicated to employees or is not understood by those working on improvement initiatives; and 3) People Link—the people trained in the tool set or familiar with the strategy lack the communication and soft skills necessary to gain support and consensus for achieving change initiatives.

Figure 1. Continuous Improvement Chain.

Organizations are empowered to prescribe a tailored treatment for their broken CIP, when employees are in place, who understand the strategic plan, are familiar with the tool sets and how to integrate them, and who possess the people skills necessary for overcoming fear of change and building trust. These unique employees actively seek out education in the area of leadership of change, and stay informed on the newest application of change tools. They seek out experts who answer questions and provide guidance based on their experience, and they network with peers to obtain realistic applications and solutions for problems they experience. These individuals know that it is vital to learn from other’s successes and mistakes and be informed of best practices across various industries.

Many companies experience the symptoms of a broken continuous improvement program, but because employees do not understand the strategic plan, the tools set for achieving change, or do not possess the people skills to join the two, they are not able to diagnose and treat this problem. By building knowledge and confidence in the three links of the Continuous Improvement Chain, this fracture can be fixed and the links strongly united. Are you ready to take the first step to diagnosing and treating your company’s problem?

Randy K. Kesterson is the Founding Director of the Society for Leadership of Change (SLC), a non-profit professional membership society, which seeks to increase the value of leaders of change within organizations. The SLC brings leaders at all levels within organizations together, as well as with the recognized experts in the area of change leadership, in order to appreciate the intricacies of the strategic plan, the available change tools, and the people skills necessary for linking the two into a strong continuous improvement plan. Randy may be reached at


ISPI Web Communities

Have you visited ISPI’s Web Communities (not to be confused with ISPI’s recently implemented Professional Communities)? If not, you’re missing the opportunity to find news, discuss topics, network, and share your knowledge with fellow performance improvement professionals under the following topic headings:

The ISPI Web Communities are your opportunity to communicate with fellow performance improvement professionals from around the world. Get answers to questions. Learn a new technique. Help others with questions by sharing your knowledge. To become an active participant, click here.


I-Spy: Websites of Interest
by Todd Packer

Maybe it’s happened already, maybe it hasn’t, but if so, the people have spoken. The November 2004 Presidential election in the United States has captivated audiences around the world. Regardless of your particular political persuasion, ideally what the process displays is democracy at work, where political power emerges from and for the people. HPT also is powered by and for people. The theme for this month’s column is People Power. We will explore sites that reveal unique ways that HPT has energized and enlightened people engaged in the process through the government, the military, the public health arena, and the environment. Please, feed the hamsters.

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:

  1. E-Klatch: Links to professional associations, research, and resources that can help refine and expand our views of HPT through connections with other professionals and current trends
  2. HPT@work: Links to job listings, career development, volunteer opportunities, and other resources for applying your individual skills
  3. I-Candy: Links to sites that are thought provoking, enjoyable, and refreshing to help manage the stresses and identify new ideas for HPT

The power of a people is sometimes measured via military resourcefulness. A great example is the U.S. Navy’s Human Performance Center (HPC SPIDER). This site incorporates a highly detailed introduction to HPT, specific examples of HPT best practices/lessons learned in governmental/non-governmental settings, and many valuable links (yes, including to ISPI). Settle in for some “deep-C” (for “Computer”) exploration as this site provides detailed information on technologies, management, and R&D. HPC SPIDER is the U.S. Navy’s “premier online resource for human performance and training technology for lifelong learning.”

HPT in public health is one arena where performance improvement can positively impact people...from educational campaigns to life-saving interventions. For a comprehensive and conversational overview of resources from public health of value to HPT, visit the website of Betty C. Jung who describes herself as: “a public health professional with a background in nursing, did a short stint in child welfare, love quality assurance and quality improvement stuff.” As if she knew ISPIers would be visiting, the site outlines as a goal “To meet the Evaluation Criteria set by the Health Summit Working Group for Quality Health Information on the Internet and adhere to the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility.” The excellent listing of the Site Search Engine and Site Index includes many valuable links, including a Needs Assessment Matrix, the World Wide Evaluation Gateway, an essay on performance indicators in organizations in Australia, an AmeriCorps Performance Measurement Toolkit, and a performance measures database from the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse. This website can serve as an inspiration for all performance technologists to create research-based, informative sites geared to educating practitioners and the general public, complete with links to websites for kids.

Special, cool, international public health note: Speaking of global measures of improving people’s lives, during a recent visit to the Seattle (Washington, U.S.A.) Art Museum’s fascinating exhibit on Spain in the Age of Exploration, 1492-1819, I-Spy learned that Spain launched the first global public health campaign in 1803 when physicians were sent to the New World to vaccinate thousands against smallpox. For an interesting article on this Royal Philanthropic Vaccination Expedition, read Karen Shashock’s essay, A public health odyssey brought back to light: The story of the world’s first mass vaccination project.

Controversy rages this political season regarding the relationship between people, performance, power, and petroleum. So, how could people get performance to happen using alternative fuel sources rather than gasoline? Crank up your solar panels and wind turbines to get energy for a visit to “The Cutting Edge of Low Technology” at Owned by ForceField, a home-based business with staff located in the remote mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado, this site offers “a huge free resource for alternative energy enthusiasts and experimentors. Build your own low-rpm permanent-magnet alternators, battery chargers, anemometers, windmills, hydro turbines, and more.” With advice on a wide variety of energy options for life “off the grid” (we cybernauts, though appreciative, still shudder at the thought!)—including efficient lighting and solar panels, is a great introduction to challenging our assumptions about how we as people can get energy that helps sustain the environment. For the performance technologists in the room, we suggest this approach to HPT—Hamster Powered Technology—complete with performance measurement via an attached computer to support gathering wH/hM—watt-hours-per-hamster-mile! Special thanks to I-Spy’s good friend, fellow web-gawker geek and programmer impresario Andy Craze for the reference to this site.

Until next time, remember the wise and respectful engagement of people using their power to improve performance sustains democracy, fosters social well-being, inspires innovation, and unleashes organizational excellence.

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


Measurement Counts! Remembering a Measurement Giant: Ogden R. Lindsley (1922-2004)

On Sunday, October 10, 2004, Ogden R. Lindsley, a giant in the fields of behavior research, measurement, and performance technology, died of bile duct cancer at the Kansas University Medical Center with his wife, Nancy, at his side. Four days before, Og sent a gracious and inspiring farewell message to his students and colleagues. In response, he received a stream of emails from around the world with love and appreciation from old friends, as well as from parents, students, and professionals whom he had never met yet whose lives he had profoundly improved with Precision Teaching and Standard Celeration Charting.

Lindsley’s life was extraordinarily full and productive. At 20, he left Brown University to enlist in the Army Air Corps, serving as an engineer-gunner on B-24 bombers. Shot down over Yugoslavia, he spent nine months as a POW, and then escaped. He later told colorful tales of tricking the Nazi soldiers and making friends with the local populace on forced marches between prison camps. He also recounted his personal pledge that if he were allowed to escape, he would devote half of his life to helping the world and the other half to having fun—reasoning that his fallen comrades would have insisted on the latter. His career, in fact, was marked by enthusiasm, inexhaustible energy, continuous curiosity and discovery, plus lots of fun. Cartoons, songs, and funny stories occupied an important part of his professional repertoire, along with enormous amounts of charted data.

Ogden returned from the war in 1945 to complete Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in experimental psychology and histochemistry at Brown University, and a Doctorate with B.F. Skinner at Harvard. With Skinner, he founded and directed the Behavior Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, where from 1953 to 1965 he conducted extensive behavior research with human subjects, coined the term “behavior therapy,” and demonstrated that principles of learning discovered in Skinner’s animal operant conditioning labs applied with equal power and precision to humans. During that period, he published dozens of scientific articles reporting groundbreaking research in psychiatry, advertising, behavioral pharmacology, geriatrics, social psychology, and education. Most of his early publications are as relevant today as when they were published, and well worth the effort to request via interlibrary loan. He received the Hofheimer Research Prize from the American Psychiatric Association in 1962 for his study of psychotic behavior.

Measurement was at the core of his contributions. At an early stage, Lindsley committed his scientific career to Skinner’s supremely sensitive measure of behavior (or accomplishments), count/time (rate or frequency). He learned from Skinner’s cumulative recording methodology the power of standard graphic display for communicating and analyzing measures over time, applying that principle to develop his own standard charting tools.

In 1965, he decided to “parachute behind enemy lines” by moving from Harvard Medical School to special education at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He hoped to effect radical change in classroom education by replacing percent correct with count per minute measures and graphic displays of data for decision-making by teachers and students. He began a new career in teacher training and field-based educational research that ultimately had an enormous impact on thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of students.

When he first worked with educators, teaching them principles of behavior and requiring them to measure behavior frequencies in their classrooms, Lindsley discovered that the idiosyncratic stretch-to-fill graphs they used to share data slowed down communication. To remedy this problem, he prototyped a “standard” chart initially using semi-logarithmic engineering graph paper covering a range of behavior frequencies from one per day (.000695 per minute) to 1,000 per minute up the left axis; and spanning 20 calendar weeks (140 days) across the bottom. This tool enabled teachers to share and receive feedback about classroom measurement and teaching projects in about one tenth the time it took with traditional graphs.

While using the chart for classroom practice and research, Lindsley and his students discovered that behavior multiplies, it does not add. That is, when graphed on the standard chart, which allows accurate projection of straight-line trends instead of curves, frequencies of behavior and accomplishments (along with many other natural phenomena) exhibit patterns of proportional rather than additive change. (For example, some behavior doubles rather than adding a fixed amount every week.) The power and sensitivity of Lindsley’s charting methodology is so great that if there were a Nobel Prize for behavior measurement, some colleagues believe he should have received it.

From the chart he discovered and quantified celeration (ACceleration or DEceleration), a direct measure of learning for individuals, organizations, or systems quantified as a multiplying or dividing change in frequency over time (e.g., x 1.5 per week), and graphically displayed as a standard angle on the celeration chart. From the late 1960s on, his students and colleagues demonstrated enormous improvements in learning effectiveness with Precision Teaching and Precise Behavior Management, using the standard celeration chart to make educational and management decisions.

Emboldened by these discoveries and frustrated by the inability of teachers to change systems in which they served, Lindsley switched in 1971 to educational administration at Kansas University. He supervised 34 doctoral theses over the course of his tenure, training those who would become educational leaders to use behavior science principles and standard celeration charting in day-to-day educational and organizational management and decision-making. Extending use of the chart to count-per-week, count-per-month, and count-per-year applications, his students monitored such macro phenomena as organizational change, stock market activity, world health and economic trends, improving analysis and decision-making in every application they tried.

The Standard Celeration Society emerged during the early 1990s to support this work, and charting practitioners have become more and more visible in organizations such as ISPI and the International Association for Behavior Analysis. Many of Lindsley’s protégés became impatient with resistance to radical improvement and, with Lindsley’s encouragement, formed private-sector schools, learning centers, and consulting firms to make their methods available directly to consumers.

Lindsley’s work has received recognition internationally, including being awarded ISPI’s highest honor, the Thomas F. Gilbert Award for Professional Achievement in 1998. His work continues through several generations of his students, and celebrations of his work are planned at upcoming conferences, including those of the Standard Celeration Society, the Association for Behavior Analysis, and the California Association for Behavior Analysis. Ogden asked that those who wish to honor his life and work contribute directly to the Standard Celeration Society, and he appointed a committee (of which I am a member) to oversee management of his archives and posthumous publication of his work.

Lindsley’s unique qualities were a combination of scientific rigor and unwavering commitment to effecting positive change in the world. We have lost a creative scientific genius, but his legacy is a powerful set of measurement and performance improvement tools that have just begun to have their multiplicative effect.

Dr. Carl Binder is Senior Partner at Binder Riha Associates, a consulting firm that teaches clients the FluencyBuilding™ training and coaching technology, Standard Celeration Charting, and Six Boxes™ Performance Management. His email address is, and you can read other articles by him at See past issues of this column by clicking on the “Back Issues” link at the bottom of the blue navigation bar to the left.


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 by November 15, 2004, or it will be held until the next processing deadline of June 15, 2005. Visit for more information on becoming a CPT and to download the application.


Seeking Applicants for Editor-in-Chief of Performance Improvement

The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is seeking an ISPI member who has the flexibility to take on the commitment and responsibilities of Editor for Performance Improvement (PI).

We’re looking for a member who can demonstrate an extensive knowledge of human performance technology (HPT), has a professional HPT network, and possesses an editorial review ability. The Editor will be responsible for acquiring, reviewing, and selecting manuscripts and will contribute suggestions and ideas toward the editorial direction. The Editor will work with authors and potential authors to maintain the highest standard of editorial content and will work directly with ISPI’s Senior Director of Publications, who is responsible for all production and distribution. The Editor reports to the Executive Director, who serves as Publisher of Performance Improvement. The position requires a two-year commitment, commencing in April 2005. The Editor will receive $10,000 a year as compensation for the invested time and effort.

PI is published 10 times a year and is distributed to more than 5,000 members, subscribers, and institutions. For an application and instructions, or for questions regarding the position or the application process, please contact April Davis, ISPI Senior Director of Publications, by phone: 301.587.8570 x112; by fax: 301.587.8573; or by email,

Performance Marketplace

Books and Reports
Playful Performance Consulting According to Thiagi. Thiagi doesn’t have what it takes to be a serious performance consultant. But, he has created techniques and templates to make you a playful performance technologist. For free stuff (and expensive stuff) on interactive strategies for improving performance, visit

Serious 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?

Training Ain't 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 value.

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc. is offering these workshops for Fall 2004: Designing Instruction for Web-Based Training, Chicago, November 8-10; The Instructional Developer Workshop, San Francisco, December 13-15; The Course Developer Workshop: Online Anytime! In-company workshops now being scheduled for 2005! Visit to register!

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
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.

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!


ISPI Membership: Join or Renew Today!

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, or simply click here.


Newsletter Submission Guidelines

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:

In addition to the article, please include a short bio (2-3 lines) and a contact email address. All submissions should be sent to Each article will be reviewed by one of ISPI’s on-staff HPT experts, and the author will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any further questions, please contact

Feel free to forward ISPI’s PerformanceXpress newsletter to your colleagues or anyone you think may benefit from the information. If you are reading someone else’s PerformanceXpress, send your complete contact information to, and you will be added to the PerformanceXpress emailing list.

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


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Phone: 1.301.587.8570
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