By David Hartt, CPT, EdD, PMP, & William Kelly, CAPT, USCG

STAPLES introduced the “Easy Button” to solve problems. Human performance technology (HPT) practitioners and leaders understand Easy Buttons and silver bullets do not work for complex issues, but knowing what organizational buttons to push to produce the desired result is the goal of the practitioner and leader alike. Complex issues require a systems perspective and a good model can provide clarity. The Performance Factors Model is an adaptation of the work of Thomas Gilbert, Carl Binder, and Roger Chevalier (Gilbert, 1978; Binder, 1998; Chevalier, 2007). It is both an HPT tool as well as a leadership model. HPT has mostly worked on the fringes of leadership, but HPT and leadership are focused on the same thing…results.

HPT and leadership actions must be purposeful and improve individual and organizational performance. Leaders develop vision and strategic direction. HPT practitioners align organizational resources and individual behavior to support the strategic direction (desired state). The Performance Factors Model is a tool to help practitioners and leaders identify root causes, develop appropriate solutions to solve problems and influence individuals and organizations to achieve desired results. Organizations benefit by ensuring they provide the right information, resources, and incentives; select the right people; and use those people where they can be most effective. Individuals perform best when they have the appropriate knowledge, skill, and motivation for a job.

Performance Factors Model

Organizational Factors (under the authority, control, and responsibility of the organization)
Information Resources Incentives Selection/Assignment
Vision, mission, values, job descriptions, feedback, policy, doctrine (stored in binders, websites, pamphlets, posters) Money, time, people, tools or equipment Extrinsic offerings: pay, bonus structure, benefits (vacation, health insurance), titles, promotions Hiring standards, job assignments, career progression
Individual Factors (under the authority, control, and responsibility of the individual)
Knowledge Skill Motivation Capacity
Theories, rules, data, facts (stored between one’s ears)Knowledge is a precursor to performance (skill). Ability to perform a defined task, procedure, or role Intrinsic alignment of personal values with specific goals, purpose, or tasks Capacity = knowledge + skill + motivationThe ability to adapt to new or novel situations based on past experiences


Successful leaders consistently guide employees to achieve results, but they must understand the factors that affect performance. Taken in the parlance of HPT, successful leaders work with their teams to define the desired state. They help employees identify root causes and close gaps to improve performance.

The effective leader is constantly scanning the environment and assessing the performance of his or her team or organization. When faced with a complex challenge or opportunity, the tools and principles of HPT enable the practitioner and leader to define the ill-defined, identify the root cause(s), and develop solutions to improve performance. Over the past 50 years, the field of HPT has evolved; the value of a performance approach has proven extremely successful for consultants as they help clients in business, education, and the military. But have we made the connection that HPT is also a repeatable model for sustainable and effective leadership in business, education, and the military…maybe now we can.

Gilbert, T.F. (1978). Human competence: Engineering worthy performance. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Binder C. (1998).The Six Boxes: A Descendent of Gilbert’s Behavior Engineering Model. Performance Improvement, 37(6), 48-52.

Chevalier R. (2007). A manager’s guide to improving workplace performance. New York, NY: AMACOM, American Management Association.

DavidHartt David Hartt, CPT, EdD, PMP, is the managing principal at Hartt Performance Group ( David is a retired senior Coast Guard officer and holds a doctorate in organizational leadership. David can be reached at





Captain Bill Kelly is the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Recruit Training Center, Cape May, NJ. His prior assignment was the director of the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development Center (LDC), where he oversaw all Coast Guard leadership programs. Capt. Kelly can be reached at

To learn more about this and other educational sessions at THE Performance Improvement Conference 2013 in Reno, NV, April 14-17, please go to Register today at!