We are delighted to welcome Tony Moore, CPT, to TrendSpotters. Tony, tony@mooreperformance.us, has been president of Moore Performance Improvement Inc., based in Ohio, since 1993. Moore Performance helps clients with critical business issues. Tony cites Tom Gilbert and Joe Harless as his biggest professional influences. He describes himself as “really skilled at recognizing good methodology and then following it religiously.” Tony is a firm believer in the foundations of human performance technology (HPT) thinking and practices. This led his local ISPI chapter, Northeast Ohio (NEO), to its current programming focus on reading and learning together in a format much like a book club.

Genesis of NEO’s Reading Program
Tony is co-founder of the NEO chapter and by all accounts one of its most active members. Over the years, as most chapters have, NEO has experienced ebbs and flows in membership. By the autumn of 2005, NEO had many members but was drifting away from its focus on the technology of performance improvement into realms that were less related to ISPI’s mission. The chapter’s leaders saw the need to refocus on ISPI’s technology and ensure that members could continue to learn and grow professionally. Their goal was to create a common language and approach to performance improvement and get the chapter back on course. The solution was to embark on a one-year practicum to read and discuss Tom Gilbert’s seminal work, Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance, so that all members could gain a thorough grounding in the foundation of performance improvement.

Not surprisingly, this did not suit all the members and some left the chapter. The small number that remained, however, were dedicated to learning about HPT and exchanging ideas. They embraced the one-year practicum and fomented rich discussions at exciting meetings. They continued the discussions with each other by telephone between meetings and gained skills, knowledge, and enjoyment in the process. Although there are fewer members now, they are dedicated and involved members; they are the right members for the NEO chapter.

Set-Up and Organization
Much to Tony’s surprise, when the year of the practicum concluded and Tom’s book had been read and discussed, NEO’s members did not want to return to traditional meeting programming. Instead, they asked to continue reading and learning together in 12 months of meetings rather than the nine months the chapter had scheduled previously.

This called for a process to identify and select books that would continue to inform, build skills, and generate discussion and learning. Chapter leaders drew from Tom Gilbert’s forward to the first edition of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology to establish the criteria for book selection. These included:

  •  Has a clear focus on human performance improvement
  •  Contributes to members’ professional growth
  •  Emphasizes observation
  •  Is evidence-based
  •  Relies on multiple measurements
  •  Uses precise language
  •  Focuses on one or more of the cells in Gilbert’s Behavior Engineering Model (BEM)

Members were invited to choose a cell from the BEM to learn more about and appropriate books were then “nominated.”

The Chapter That Reads Together…
Tony tells us that the NEO chapter’s leaders used Mortimer Adler’s How To Read a Book as a template for making assignments from the chosen book and for discussions. Currently, the chapter holds its meetings online and frequently invites the author of the book under study to attend the meeting and speak with the group, if possible.

 The book list:

  • Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance* by Tom Gilbert
  • Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart* by Geary Rummler and Alan Brache
  • Performance Management: Changing Behavior that Drives Organizational Effectiveness by Aubrey Daniels and James Daniels
  • Making an Impact: Building a Top Performing Organization from the Bottom Up by Timm Esque
  • Breakthrough Performance: Managing for Speed and Flexibility* by William Daniels
  • Change-ABLE Organization: Key Management practices for Speed and Flexibility* by William Daniels and John Mathers
  • Serious Performance Consulting: According to Rummler by Geary Rummler
  • The Eden Conspiracy* by Joe Harless
  • Proving the Value of Your Training: How to Optimize Training’s Worth by Tom and Marilyn Gilbert
  • Turning Research into Results: A Guide to Selecting the Right Performance Solutions by Richard Clark and Fred Estes
  • Hard Facts, Dangerous Half Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton
  • Evidence-Based Educational Methods edited by Gary Phye

Starred (*) titles were the most popular with chapter members. Currently, they are reading Oops! 13 Management Practices that Waste Time and Money by Aubrey Daniels.

The Value of Reading and Discussing Books with Others
What NEO members say about their chapter’s book club approach:

  • Multiplies the learning opportunity with feedback
  • Facilitated Q&A increases each reader’s perspective, illuminates the assignment’s business value, and equips members to communicate concepts and practices to their clients
  • Provides a safe environment in which to learn under excellent leadership

Further, NEO members enumerate the most valuable lessons from their book studies:

  • Critical practice of managing for results rather than behavior
  • Need to plan for and how to measure accomplishments
  • The what, why, and how of an organization can be totally performance driven and performance managed
  • Similarities and differences between a process and a project and how to manage them for results
  • The impact of performance feedback and reinforcement on productivity
  • It is always valuable to question, to say “show me your data”

Links to the Performance Technology Landscape
The HPT Book Group supports these principles of performance technology:

R Focus on Results–Returns to ISPI’s roots to increase the number of quality chapter members
S Take a System view–Uses an organized process to identify, select, read, and discuss each book
V Add Value–Contributes to the knowledge and skills of members and benefits their clients
P Establish Partnerships–Members, chapter leaders, and authors partner to increase their learning

Book Club Advice
If a chapter wants to adopt or adapt the NEO’s book club approach to reading the great works of HPT, Tony suggests starting with his “HPT Reading Program Checklist” posted on our TrendSpotters Open Toolkit (TOT) page.

Individual members may also be interested in the Performance Improvement Bookclub led by Ryan Watkins. This virtual club meets in a quarterly conference call to discuss books on performance improvement, human resources management, organizational development, instructional design, or related fields. New members are always welcome. Email the book club if you are interested.

A Concluding Word from Tony
“Prior to introducing our book club to NEO ISPI, the percentage of our membership that were also international members was less than 10%. In 2011, it was slightly more than 50%. I don’t know if the relationship is coincidental or causal–but, my bias would like to believe that it’s because our members have become more engaged in the technology as a result of the book club.”

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You may contact Carol Haig at carolhaig@earthlink.net or at http://home.mindspring.com/~carolhaig;
and Roger Addison at rogeraddison@earthlink.net.