By Roger Addison, CPT, and Roger Kaufman, CPT

Once upon a time, there lived six nearsighted performance improvement technologists in the Performance Improvement Village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the room.” The technologists had no idea what an elephant was, so they decided to do a little analysis.

The technologists went to the elephant and began their analysis. “Hey, the elephant is a training event,” said the first technologist who looked at a leg.

“Oh, no! It is team building,” said the technologist who looked at the tail.

“Wrong! It is a process,” said the technologist who looked at the trunk.

“It’s like a big mission statement,” said the fourth technologist when she looked at an ear.

“It’s a huge project,” said the fifth when he touched the belly.

“It’s like a vision,” said the sixth as she touched one tusk.

The performance technologists began to argue from their narrow points of view and each insisted that they were right. A sage passed by and asked, “What is the matter?”

The technologists said, “We cannot get agreement on what the elephant is really like.” The technologists told their story from their narrow view of the part of the beast they had just experienced.

The sage said, “The elephant is a system and you must do your analysis from the viewpoint of Mega (societal, world contributions), Macro (organizational, workplace contributions), Micro (individual, worker contributions), as well as processes (work) and inputs.

“Oh,” the technologists said. With that insight there was no more fighting. They were content because they now focused on results, took a system view, added value, and worked as partners. The elephant was more than the sum of its parts, although it took all of the parts to make it an elephant.

The moral of the story is: If you take a system approach to analysis, you will begin to solve the right problems.

(…and a seventh performance improvement technologist will ask if it is really an elephant that they want in the ISPI village, but that is another story and will be based on assessment.)

Roger KaufmanRoger Kaufman, CPT, PhD is professor emeritus, Florida State University and Distinguished Research Professor at the Sonora Institute of Technology (Mexico)., He consults with public and private organizations in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and Europe. He is American Psychological Association board certified as well as a Fellow in Educational Psychology, as well as a Fellow of the American Educational Research Associate. He received a US Homeland Security/US Coast Guard medal for Meritorious Public Service. He holds ISPI’s top two honors: Member for Life and the Thomas F. Gilbert Award as well as being a past ISPI president and a founding member, He the recipient of ASTD’s Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance recognition. Kaufman has published 41 books and over 275 articles on strategic planning, performance improvement, quality management and continual improvement, needs assessment, management, and evaluation.
His Email is:

AddisonRoger Addison CPT, EdD received his master and doctorate degrees from Baylor University. His professional accomplishment include:
• Past President and Chair of the Board, IFTDO
• Past President of ISPI
• Professional Service Award, ISPI
• Member of the Year, ISPI
• Organization of the Year, ISPI
• Member for Life, ISPI
• The Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award
• The Geary Rummler Award for the Advancement of Performance Improvement
• His book, Performance Architecture, was selected for the Award of Excellence.
• The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) selected Roger as a B. F. Skinner Lecturer

Roger can be reached at