Memories, a Celebration, and a Call to Action: A President’s Reflection on the 2012 Conference
By now, you are aware 2012 is ISPI’s 50th Anniversary. It is also the 20th anniversary of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology and the 10th of our certification. A lot has happened in the last 50 years, and I’m delighted at the opportunity to share my reflections on how our recent conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, honored ISPI’s past while providing direction for the future.

The conference opened with a trip down memory lane. Margo Murray and Roger Addison, along with the 50th Anniversary Taskforce, orchestrated the opening event that began with a video clip of Gabe Ofiesh (ISPI’s first president) speaking at the 25th Anniversary Conference and ended with 18 of ISPI’s past presidents sharing a personal memory of the Society. The past presidents who were able to attend were (in order of seniority) Roger Kaufman, Joe Harless, Harold Stolovitch, Margo Murray, Danny Langdon, Marc Rosenberg, Esther Powers, Roger Addison, Kathleen Whiteside, William Coscarelli, Judith Hale, Jim Hill, Guy Wallace, Clare Carey, Jeanne Farrington, Matt Peters, Darlene Van Tiem, and Miki Lane. The Emerging Professionals Committee created a timeline ( that captured many of ISPI’s milestones over the last 50 years that was displayed in the Community Center.

The first keynote speaker was Dr. Richard Clark*, who in addition to defining evidence and sharing research that dispelled many of the myths about improving performance, put forth the first call to action. He pointed out none of the professional societies can claim to really be evidence-based and asked for a show of hands from those willing to commit to making ISPI truly evidence-based. He received a unanimous response. The Research-to-Practice Symposium held the afternoon of the second day reinforced Clark’s message. It was led by Dr. Harold Stolovitch who with the help of Dr. Mark Bullen, Dr. Richard Clark, Dr. Ryan Watkins, Dr. Annette Towler, Dr. Cedric Riener, and Hillary Leigh took turns dispelling the myths touted by many practitioners of learning and performance. The commitment to research was reinforced by the Society’s awarding Dr. William Solomonson (Wayne State) the Outstanding Research/Student Research Award and recognizing the students who participated in the Distinguished Dissertation award, Dr. Kristina Stillsmoking (Capella) Dr. Darryl Draper (Pennsylvania State), and Dr. William Solomonson (Wayne State).

The next keynote speakers, Dr. Mitch Kusy and Dr. Elizabeth Holloway*, presented their research on toxic behaviors in the workplace. They shared the findings that feedback is an ineffective intervention for changing people who exhibit toxic behaviors. Instead, they described a systems approach for eliminating toxic behavior and introduced us to two enabling roles, the toxic buffer and toxic protector. I found their examples of effective language to use when dealing with toxic behaviors especially helpful. For me, Kusy and Holloway’s call to action was to remind us to apply a systems approach especially when dealing with the human part of performance improvement. Our third keynote speaker was one of our emerging professionals, Eric Landen*. He took us through a condensed timetable of science from per-enlightenment to today citing the works of Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and many others. Landen ended with specific examples of how corporations are deriving economic benefits from their application of the principles of modern science to conserve the natural environment. His call to action was for each of us to apply performance technology to show our clients and employers how to be environmentally and socially responsible and gain the economic benefits of doing so.

The spirit of celebration was experienced over the course of the conference. First there was a renewed appreciation of our international outreach. Approximately 30% of the attendees were from outside of the USA. The master speakers were from Beijing, Canada, Chile, Germany, and Ghana. We now have members from 51 countries and CPTs in 31 countries. The Awards Luncheon on the first day gave us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our recipients’ of the Awards of Excellence. Those recognized included Sprint; Amgen; Arise Virtual Solutions; Imperial Oil with DataLink and Ideas Interactive Inc; Lowes with Creative Channel Services; and the U.S Coast Guard’s Training Center at Petaluma, the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy, and the FORCECOM Performance Technology Center with L-3 Communications and Lockheed Martin. The chapters recognized included the Armed Forces, Capella University, Charlotte, Michigan, New Mexico, Potomac, San Diego, and Tampa Bay. Over the course of the three days, attendees had the opportunity to attend 81 concurrent educational sessions, five master series, and nearly 90 table discussions during the Chat & Chew and the Anniversary Barrel. Matt Donovan, on behalf of General Physics, continued to sponsor the University Case Study Competition. The three schools competing were Concordia University, Indiana University, and Penn State. Clare Carey continued her sponsorship of Speed Mentoring where more than 40 people had an opportunity to meet a mentor. Marshall Brown’s early morning sessions on career coaching were attended by a number of people seeking advice on their resume, interviewing skills, and job search efforts. Cakes (sugar free, gluten free, chocolate, and lemon) were shared in the community center hosted by the conference sponsors General Physics, Deloitte, Multi Health Systems, Intent Consultancies Canada, Executive Soundview, and the University of Maryland University College.

The final call to action came from the 2012-13 President Jack Phillips and President-elect Lisa Toenniges. Specifically, they asked that we each bring in a new member. ISPI must increase its membership if it is to continue to underwrite research, promote performance improvement, and provide quality education. Participate in the Validation Study being conducted this summer. Volunteer to conduct focus groups and interviews with the people who hire our members. Learn more about membership, so you can more fully explain the benefits of being part of a group that pursues evidence-based practices.

Richard Clark, EdD, is a professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Technology at Southern California University. He is the owner of Atlantic Training, Inc. and Professor of Clinical Research, Department of Surgery at Keck School of Medicine (Los Angeles Basin Clinical and Translational Science Institute).

Mitchell Kusy, PhD, is a Fulbright in International Organizational Development and recipient of the Minnesota OD Practitioner of the year 1998. Elizabeth Holloway, PhD, is a Diplomate in Professional Psychology and a Fellow in Applied Psychology. Both are professors in the Doctoral Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University

Eric Landen, is the President and CEO of Landen Consulting. He is a member of the committee creating ANSI standards for sustainable agriculture; the Society for Conservation, Biology, and Religion Consortium; His Royal Highness, Prince of Wales, International Sustainability Unit; and the Water Ethics Network.