By Carol Haig, CPT, and Roger Addison, CPT, EdD

Here at TrendSpotters Central we are reflecting on the experience of the THE Performance Improvement Conference 2012 in Orlando and sorting through all those scribbled notes on the backs of business cards to contact new friends. In that spirit, we are pleased to welcome a dynamic duo. Meet Timothy Brock, CPT, PhD, of Lockheed Martin Global Training and Logistics in Orlando, Florida. Tim,, is the manager, Science of Learning and Performance. He leads multiple domestic and international projects to improve human performance outcomes in the military, healthcare, education, and for emergency call centers. Peggy Meli, PhD, RHIA, LHRM,, is the new Director of Consulting Services for  YES-HIM Consulting, Inc. a Premiere Health Information Management Consulting Firm, also in Orlando.They contribute the Backyard HPT Researcher Model to the TrendSpotters Open Toolkit (TOT).

Genesis of the Backyard HPT Researcher Model
Tim read Richard Swanson’s article, “Research and Development (and Other Life and Death Matters),” as part of his dissertation research (click here to view the abstract). He was intrigued by the central premise that performance improvement practitioners can combine research with their ongoing work to contribute to both their job responsibilities and the body of HPT knowledge that we draw on. Further research led to Richey and Klein’s Development Research Methodology that Tim overlaid with business processes, an agile development cycle, and a formative feedback system to create the Backyard HPT Researcher model.

Description of the Model
In keeping with the premise of the Research To Practice day at the conference this year that practitioners can be researchers, the Backyard HPT Researcher creates a structure for practitioners to contribute directly to the human performance technology (HPT) body of knowledge. The backyard is our workplace, and the model embeds systematic investigation and inquiry into the project work we do for our clients. Tim and Peggy use the language of their clients, rather than HPT terminology in the Backyard HPT Researcher, demonstrating that a model is no less viable when it speaks business rather than HPT.

Backyard Researcher Model

How to Use the Backyard HPT Researcher Model
The Backyard HPT Researcher is built to the RSVP standards. Users of the model begin with a desired result: a final prototype or product. Next, we establish small stakeholder committees to provide input as the prototype evolves, and ask for formative feedback about its relevance and practicality. We use the feedback to refine the prototype, submit the second iteration for review, and continue the cycle until we have a prototype or product that produces the desired result. This iterative process is depicted as a spiral series of prototypes fueled by formative feedback. It is constructed on a foundation of:

  • Agile development–Rapid prototyping using development research methodology (DRM)
  • Business case–Stating why we are doing this, derived from Swanson’s Tier of Inquiry and Boyer’s Scholarship of Application
  • Business practices–Performance problem or opportunity
  • Workplace–Backyard

For the final prototype or product, establish a new committee to provide summative feedback about the potential usefulness of the final iteration.

Success Story
Tim and Peggy are currently using the Backyard HPT Researcher model to create an instructional model for a healthcare professional development project. There are several review committees composed of stakeholder representatives and learning experts who evaluated the initial prototype. To focus the feedback, these committee members responded to a Likert scale questionnaire with space for written comments to determine the practicality of the prototype.

Using the formative feedback from the initial prototype, Tim and Peggy developed a second, refined prototype and again requested formative feedback from their committees. This spiral process is continuing.

Results to date include a development tool and a set of product cards. Tim tells us that the Backyard HPT Researcher’s structure lets him trace decisions made directly back to feedback provided by the committees. An added benefit of the Backyard HPT Researcher is that the client sees the progress toward a product they care about. Tim emphasizes that this research methodology flips the traditional research and development approach to one that is suited to our fast-paced and dynamic business performance environment.

Advice to Users
There are four questions Tim and Peggy suggest users of the Backyard HPT Researcher ask themselves as their project progresses. These are drawn from the DRM methodology, and the answers will provide direction:

  • How useful is the prototype or product I am developing?
  • How relevant is it for the stakeholders?
  • How practical is it for the intended users or recipients?
  • How effective a solution will it provide?

Links to the Performance Technology Landscape
The Backyard HPT Researcher model includes these principles of performance technology:

R Focus on Results–The model begins with the results in mind.
S Take a System view–The model is both systematic in its process, and systemic because the research is built in.
V Add Value–Ownership is established early; the iterative process saves time, money, and effort, and produces a quality product.
P Establish Partnerships–Committee members are stakeholders.

Application Exercise
Give the Backyard HPT Researcher a try for your next suitable project. Use the four DRM questions at the end of each Sprint to key on for your next iterative prototype. Use a Likert scale to structure the formative feedback you request from your review committees.

How Can Performance Improvement Specialists Improve Clients’ Results?
Tim and Peggy focused on their current healthcare experience as they considered this question. With the changing healthcare market in the United States, there is a lack of success on many fronts and unhappy patients throughout. Tim and Peggy believe that process-driven performance improvement models like the Backyard HPT Researcher can help an industry that is at a crossroads clarify the results they want and put in place meaningful change.

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You may contact Carol Haig at or at

You may contact Roger Addison at