January 2007

  | Back issues | www.ispi.org  

In this issue:

New Look, Great Content, and Online!

Ad: ISPI Bookstore

Where Do Executives Get Advice?


Ad: 2007 Conference

What’s Missing From Self-Instruction

From the Board


Project Proven Tools and Techniques for ISD

ISPI Conference Blog Is Live!

The Systematic Design of Performance Improvement Systems

Performance Beyond ClashPoints

Performance Marketplace

Join ISPI Now!

Newsletter Submission Guidelines

ISPI Board of Directors

ISPI Advocates

Back Issues




New Look, Great Content, and Online!

In just a few weeks, the redesign of Performance Improvement journal will be unveiled as members of the International Society for Performance Improvement and subscribers reach into their mailbox. This redesign is part of ISPIs recent partnership with John Wiley & Sons, Inc. In addition to a new look, ISPI members can access current and back issues of the publication online—even articles published before their membership was activated. Currently, all issues from 2006 are available; however, in the next few months, the Wiley InterScience database will archive everything from 1962 forward. To access Performance Improvement, click here. Please note: Members are required to login to ISPI’s website.

Non-members from around the world may also access the publication through www.wileyinterscience.com for a fee. The availability of Performance Improvement to others in our profession helps with outreach efforts and to reinforce ISPI as the premier provider of content in the field.

As we head into 2007 and reflect on goals one and two established by ISPI’s Board of Directors, it seems clear the partnership with John Wiley and Sons and the initiative to move the journal into an electronic forum are steps in the right direction.

  1. ISPI is recognized as the champion and leading resource for HPT.
  2. ISPI practitioners are valued, respected, and proficient.

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Performance Improvement cover



Where Do Executives Get Advice About Managing and Improving Performance?

As performance consultants, we are about measurably improving organizational performance. If we expect improvements to stick, we must not only design and implement improvements but also ensure that management systems and processes will sustain and raise the bar on improvements over time. So do we hold ultimate responsibility for the management and improvement of performance in our client organizations? No, the leaders of the organization are accountable for overall organizational performance and, therefore, also for performance improvement and management. That is why when the Management of Organizational Performance (MOP) ProComm was forming, it was agreed that an important target audience would be the top leaders of organizations.

Calling them our target audience is one thing, getting their attention is another. The ProComm debated what kind of participation we could expect from business executives in ISPI, and how we might influence their views on managing organizational performance. What we agreed on was that before we think about getting their attention and influencing them, we better understand their current views on organizational performance. We looked around ISPI to see if this task had already been completed, and concluded that the last attempt to address this audience had addressed a different issue: executive understanding of human performance technology (HPT) and how to improve it.* So the MOP ProComm formed a small task force to take a preliminary stab at understanding executives’ current views on managing organizational performance.

In May and June 2006, task force members (Stephanie Wilson, Carol Panza, Lory Lanese, and Timm Esque) interviewed 10 C-level or vice presidents from a mix of large and medium-sized companies. We avoided the term HPT and jargon altogether, and told them who we represented only at the end of the interview in hopes of getting their unvarnished views on managing organizational performance. We asked them about their organizations’ goals, plans, and any obstacles and how they intend to overcome them. We also asked where they went for advice on managing their organizations’ performance. We have included below a few highlights from this preliminary data collection. Click here to download a Microsoft Word version of the detailed report.

When asked about key challenges ahead and obstacles to success, the most common response had to do with cost structures, trust, goal alignment, and balance (right resources focused on right things at the right time). No one mentioned lack of skills or lack of training in their lists of top obstacles, though technical skills were mentioned as a critical capability.

We asked several questions to understand where these leaders get advice about managing organizational performance. Leaders in large companies said they rely almost solely on trusted internal advisors (past bosses, members of own staff) and occasionally publications or organizations that specialize in certain industries or research (i.e., Gartner Group, Forrester).

From this preliminary data, the task force concluded that if the goal is to get messages to this audience, it is unlikely that they will attend ISPI events, and there is a better chance of getting their attention while they are in small and medium-sized companies. Regarding the next steps, the MOP ProComm will be reviewing these results and considering them along with other data and ideas to determine how the MOP ProComm can best direct its resources.

* See Report of ISPI Executive Development Task Team, April 2000.

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ProComm logo



Planner and Sidekick Performance Support Model

Welcome to the New Year! We are pleased to continue bringing you useful models and tools graciously shared by our TrendSpotters. Allison Rossett, CPT, EdD, and ISPI Member for Life, joins us to help launch 2007. Allison, as so many ISPIers know, is a professor of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, a regular and encore presenter at ISPI conferences, and the author of many award-winning books. She is also the Closing Banquet speaker during ISPI’s upcoming Annual Conference and may be reached at arossett@mail.sds.edu.

This month we add the very useful Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model to the TrendSpotters Toolkit. It comes from Allison’s brand-new book, with co-author Lisa Schafer (lhschafer@colletandschafer.com), Job Aids and Performance Support in the Workplace: Moving from Knowledge in the Classroom to Knowledge Everywhere.

Genesis of This Model
Traditional job aids support three things:

  • Information, as in a telephone directory
  • Procedures, such as how to set a digital clock
  • Coaching, advice, and decision-making guidance, perhaps for counseling an employee with an attendance problem

Today’s computing devices can bring all three job aids together as contemporary performance support. Such a performance support program might, for example, help someone considering graduate education by including a database of possible university programs and prerequisites, procedures for applying, and self-assessment checklists to help the applicant anticipate readiness and preference for one program or university over another. On a park bench, in a submarine, in a hotel room, at a parent-teacher meeting, in a cubicle, or on the manufacturing floor, people reach beyond themselves for help in doing what they need to get done.

The Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model owes its creation to better, faster, mobile, and accessible computing power. The technology that enables our multipurpose cell phones, PDAs, and laptops delivers performance support at the moment of need, and just before and after, as we plan and reflect.

Model Description
The Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model is an excellent example of performance technology as an integrator. The model helps us see how performance support can be integrated into performance systems.

Performance Support



Sidekicks: They are with us in the work, as we act

Here the customer and salesperson look at a PC and examine a table that compares a recommended product to its competitors.

When the customer picks a product, the salesperson identifies the customer and the system details what it will take to achieve compatibility with this customer’s current installed base.

Planners: They are there when we get ready to act and afterwards, when we reflect on our efforts

This is a print or automated program that reminds a salesperson what to keep in mind when selling at higher levels in the organization. After the engagement, the salesperson is guided in a reflection on the interaction in light of set criteria.

This is an automated program that seeks data about a potential customer, qualifies the customer, and then informs the salesperson of the size loan for which he/she will qualify. The amount and rationale are provided to the salesperson to aid in countering objections.

Table 1. Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model.

The model captures two critical dimensions of performance support:

  • The degree of integration of the support into the task—Is the performance support inside the task, like using TIVO, or is it outside the task like a program that helps you decide how to save for retirement? TIVO is there, integrated. The retirement is close, but not simultaneous with the challenge.
  • How much tailoring the support offers—Is the support standard for all, like a mass mailing from your city government about fire danger, or is it tailored to your situation, such as guidance for you because the system knows you live in a canyon with specific fire mitigation needs?

The model gets its name from the two kinds of performance support: planners and sidekicks.

  • Planners help us just before the need—Should Avian flu change our vacation plans, or just after—how could we have improved that presentation to senior management?
  • Sidekicks help us during the task by being integrated with it—The cook reads the recipe as he makes the dish; the writer is coached by a spellchecker as she writes.

How to Use the Model
Use the Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model to expand the way you think about just-in-time and on-demand support. Where are errors being made? What topics are avoided? What are customers saying? Where could individuals think in more vigorous ways about their work?

Use the model to create examples to discuss with a current client. When you meet, share the model and ask questions to identify opportunities to help your client help his or her people as challenges emerge. Consider the sample questions provided in Table 2.

Performance Support



Sidekicks: They are with us in the work, as we act

As your people are in the midst of the work or task, what questions come up? What do they absolutely have to know? What errors are made? What confusion exists? What opportunities are typically lost?

What customized knowledge or guidance would add great value to the work your people are doing? What problems are frequent and costly? What knowledge would leverage their abilities, if applied to particular customer or contextual situations?

Planners: They are there when we get ready to act and afterwards, when we reflect on our efforts

As they approach the task or challenge, what do you want them to consider, reflect on, attempt to achieve? What do they often forget to think about? What do effective people know and consider? Afterwards, what should they think about to improve their performance for the next go-around?

What does the system know that most individual performers do not? What intelligence is there that could advise and direct your people to better understand customers, habits, drug interactions? How might you use data mining to provide deep and tailored smarts to people?

Table 2. Analysis for Planner & Sidekick Performance Support.

Advice to Users of the Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model
Allison suggests that this model is useful with blended solutions, further reinforcing its value as a performance integrator. Use the model with coaching, instructing, and prototyping; for an online community; to link to e-learning modules or courses; and for message extension after a podcast. For more ideas, you may want to read an article by Allison and Paul McManus in the February 2006 issue of Performance Improvement. (Remember, ISPI members can access this article for free via the ISPI website. See link in first article above.)

Links to the Performance Technology Landscape
Planner & Sidekick Performance Support Model supports these principles of Performance Technology:

R Focus on Results: Use the model to determine how performance support can produce results at work, when and where it is needed
S Take a Systems viewpoint: Blend performance support with a variety of solutions for a systems approach
V Add Value: This multipurpose model is for just-in-time use—the intelligence lives in the tool and surrounds the user; if the user departs for another job, the tool remains and can assist others
P Establish Partnerships: The model encourages partnerships between designers and support staff, systems and instructional design, with vendors often playing key roles

Application Exercise
Consider a current project. Would performance support make sense for your outcomes, in your context and with the intended target population? Go to www.colletandschafer.com/perfsupp and click on “Is performance support appropriate for my project” to access a helpful tool that provides performance support for performance support.

And finally, join Allison and Lisa at their one-day workshop, Beyond the Humble Job Aid: An Active Tour of Performance Support Examples and Tools on Monday, April 30, preceding ISPI’s 2007 International Performance Improvement Conference in San Francisco.

To find all the models and tools featured in TrendSpotters Open Toolkit, click here.

If you have an HPT model or tool that supports you in your performance improvement activities, contact Carol Haig, CPT, at carolhaig@earthlink.net or http://home.mindspring.com/%7Ecarolhaig, or Roger Addison, CPT, EdD, at roger@ispi.org.

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Alison Rossett



What’s Missing From Self-Instruction—And How to Provide It

Self-instruction (whether print, e-learning, or any other method) eliminates travel costs and decreases time away from the job, but it is also fraught with inherent pitfalls. For example, no one is watching, no one is present to explain complex concepts, and no one is there to answer the challenge that “it’s good in theory, but won’t work here.”

How, then, short of reverting to classroom-based training, can you make up for self-instruction’s built-in flaws? Here is a range of potential design solutions to address these challenges:

  • Since no one is watching, self-instruction must motivate learners to get started and keep going.

    Draw in your learners by making the learning engaging and customized—right from the start. For example:

    • Begin with an engaging activity such as a self-assessment. It can be a simple quiz that merely builds awareness of the need for the new knowledge or skill. Or, it can be more elaborate and personalized, allowing the learner to “test out” of certain content or to jump to material best suited to immediate needs.
    • Hold the learner’s hand—if necessary—virtually. For instance, introduce a credible, virtual program “mentor” in your materials—a character who has faced challenges similar to learners. The mentor serves as a wise guide and role model who can offer tips throughout the course on what is really important and why.

    Make the learning less solitary and more social. For example:

    • Create groups of learners—people who are concurrently going through similar learning experiences. Even if they are widely dispersed, you can link them by conference call, email, online bulletin board, or webcast.
    • Look for opportunities for learners to interact with one another. Can they create virtual peer study groups, review one another’s presentations, role play new skills together, and compete in learning games?

    Create a sense of urgency and provide accountability. Do not allow learners to put off the learning until that non-existent moment when they have “enough time.” For example:

    • Provide a structured learning agenda that details expectations for weekly and daily learning activities. Provide relevant assessments at predefined interim points to check if learners are “on track.”
    • Mandate frequent human touch points, even if your learning is mainly delivered online or in print. For example, schedule regular progress meetings. Have a manager, coach, or mentor review and give feedback about key learning assignments.
  • Since no one is present to explain complex concepts, take extra pains to make the course exceptionally clear and understandable. For example:
    • Test drafts of learning materials with people who have similar backgrounds as your intended audience. Use their feedback to clarify and simplify.
    • Provide a clear visual of where learners are in the course and where they need to go, so they can focus on content instead of navigation.
    • Use best graphic design principles (e.g., use of font, color, white space) to help learners zero in quickly on the essentials.
  • Provide relevance and build buy-in, so the learner is less likely to feel that “it’s good in theory, but won’t work here.” For example:
    • Have learners participate in a conference call or webcast in which a panel of company experts offer practical tips to learners based on their real-world experiences.
    • Use actual case examples to show how the conceptual information is applied on the job.
    • Proactively acknowledge doubts or questions that learners may have with the content—and also provide a way to reassure learners about the material’s applicability and usefulness. One method is to build a virtual employee into your course as a peer learner who voices the most common concerns. Address this employee’s issues with positive, carefully thought-out responses that explain the value of the learning.
    • Provide an interactive forum for learners to contribute their thoughts and questions.
At the design stage, these strategies address the built-in shortcomings of self-instruction. They not only maximize learning, they also lay the groundwork for another critical step—ensuring that learners transfer their new knowledge and skills to the workplace.

Judith H. Steele is a consultant who enhances employee learning and performance in a variety of industries. A long-time member of ISPI, she helps companies achieve results through well-designed learning activities. She may be reached at JSteele393@aol.com.

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From the Board
ISPI Board—Focusing on Business!

The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is a highly successful professional association; but as any performance consultant knows, top-notch organizations must constantly align their businesses with their projected markets to sustain that success. Over the past couple of years, the ISPI Board has focused on understanding how ISPI’s business and products can best serve its customers over the next 5 to 10 years.

ISPI has an enviable reputation. It is the professional home for a highly respected community of competent professionals. It has a worldwide focus, highly motivated members, a culture of sharing, a very capable staff, and a unique market niche. It enjoys strong patron, advocate, and sustaining members. It hosts a popular annual conference; it supports a robust architecture of regional chapters; its Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation has become the benchmark for performance improvement; a growing number of universities offer curricula supporting its profession; and the corporate world is increasingly recognizing the importance of focusing on the performance of their employees as the key to mission success.

Although it would be easy to rest on those laurels, the Board felt compelled to critically review Society operations. The Board invested a great deal of time brainstorming ISPI’s business focus and grappling with the value of its different programs, projects, and capabilities. Those efforts have illuminated some potential areas of improvement:

  • Associations that rely on annual conferences for a large proportion of their annual income are vulnerable to economic downturns.
  • Performance improvement is a very strong product, but a growing number of associations are beginning to offer that service.
  • HPT celebrates multidisciplinary expertise. ISPI prizes itself on that brand, but progress in developing that multidisciplinary mindset and expertise has been slow.
  • ISPI attracts many new Society members and participants every year, but long-term retention could be improved.
  • ISPI sustains a high level of volunteer and staff activity, but understanding their interrelationships is difficult at times.

These types of issues are common in modern organizations. In this particular case, they are focused on improved marketing, immature training and certification processes, poor alignment, informal succession planning, and the lack of adequate program and project diversification. After much reflection, the Board developed three overarching goals with 11 supporting objectives to support ISPI’s vision, mission, and guiding principles. More importantly, the Board explored how to link specific programs and activities to these goals and objectives, and began a process to establish appropriate measures, metrics, and annual targets. An example of this hierarchy is shown below:

1. Goal [#1 of 3]: ISPI is recognized as the champion and leading resource for HPT
  1.1.  Supporting Objective [# 2 of 4]: Promote ISPI as the leading provider of HPT resources and expertise.
    1.1.1.  Potential activities, programs, standards, metrics, etc.
      a) # of conference sessions per HPT category/ProComm
      b) # of discussion groups/level of activity
      c) # of industry partnerships
      d) # of attendees at ISPI conferences [that focus on special areas]
      e) # of attendees at ISPI Workshops [that focus on special areas]
      f) # of attendees at ISPI Institutes [that focus on special areas]
      g) HPT ProComm activity
      h) Distribution of HPT specialties in CPT applications

Although this work is still under way, it is beginning to evolve our daily ISPI business efforts. An initial ISPI Dashboard is in progress to help the Board and staff focus on key projects throughout the organization. The Board has authorized the hiring of a marketing firm; a team is looking at how to update the ISPI website; a volunteer committee is being established to focus on succession planning; and new linkages are being made between the ProComms, CPT certification, chapters, academic and research community, and so forth.

This is an exciting era for ISPI. With continued focus on inclusion, innovation, and integrity, there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to be engaged.

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Matthew Peters



ProSeries: In-Depth Learning from Experienced Professionals

The International Society for Performance Improvement is offering an incredibly informative line-up of ProSeries Workshops: February 20-21 and 22-23, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Interested in Learning More?
Do you have questions regarding the content, format, or skill level necessary to participate in ISPI’s ProSeries? Get answers from the experts. Join Geary Rummler, Margo Murray, Sharon Shrock, William Coscarelli, and Carl Binder for an informational conference call related to their upcoming workshop. This is a unique 30-minute opportunity to speak directly with the instructors before you register. Participation in the conference call does not obligate you to register to attend one of these workshops.

Conference Call Schedule for Informational Session (Pre-Registration)

  • Sharon Shrock and William Coscarelli, Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 1:00 pm EST
  • Margo Murray, Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 2:00 pm EST
  • Carl Binder, Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm EST
  • Geary Rummler, Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 1:00 pm EST

To join a conference call, send an e-mail indicating which conference call you’d like to attend plus your contact information. You will receive a follow-up e-mail containing the conference call phone number.

Workshop Offerings
NEW! Carl Binder’s Building Fluent Performance for Results will present a systematic, research-based methodology for designing and implementing activities to improve the impact of classroom and on-the-job training, supervision, coaching, and self-study programs.

NEW! Sharon Shrock and William Coscarelli’s Constructing and Critiquing Level Two Evaluation and Certification Systems will provide you with the basic tools to critique currently existing tests in your organization as well as turnkey skills for creating defensible Level Two assessments or certification tests.

Geary Rummler’s Introduction to Serious Performance Consulting will take you beyond job-level performance improvement for individual workers to an exploration of the process and organizational levels of performance improvement where HPT practitioners really can make a lasting contribution to their organizations.

NEW! Margo Murray’s Managing Mentoring Processes for Measured Results will provide guidelines and practice in the front-end strategies—needs/readiness assessment—and back end—evaluation and continuous improvement—to create sustainable mentoring processes.

A pre- and post-workshop conference call is included in the registration fee to provide participants with an opportunity to ask questions beforehand or clarify material upon returning to the office.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Phoenix, Arizona, February 20-21, 2007: Margo Murray and Geary Rummler
  • Phoenix, Arizona, February 22-23, 2007: Carl Binder and Sharon Shrock & William Coscarelli

For more information or to register, visit www.ispi.org/ProSeries or call 301-587-8570.

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Project Proven Tools and Techniques for ISD: The Gathering and Use of Target Audience Data

Greetings! This new monthly PerformanceXpress article series entitled “Project Proven Tools and Techniques for ISD” will cover the following 12 topics during 2007:

  • The Gathering and Use of Target Audience Data
  • The Performance Model
  • The Enabling Knowledge and Skills
  • Existing T& D Assessments for Re-Use
  • Curriculum Architecture Modules, Events, and Paths
  • ADDIE-level Events, Lessons, and Instructional Activities
  • ISD Design of On-the-Job-Coaching and Qualification and Certification Events
  • Key ISD Roles
  • Teams for Curriculum Architecture ISD Efforts
  • Teams for ADDIE-level ISD Efforts
  • Pilot-Testing Guidelines and Tools for ISD
  • Tips for Recruiting and Working with a Powerful ISD Project Steering Team

My intent is to share with you what has worked for me during my 25+ years experience as both an internal and external ISD and HPT consultant. I also intend to post each article on the ISPI website for the IS ProComm to enable readers to engage: ask questions, make challenges, and generally share their approaches of what has worked for them.

The first topic we are covering is: The Gathering and Use of Target Audience Data.

There are many types of potential Target Audience Data (TAD) one might need in an ISD effort, all to influence some decision downstream in your ADDIE-like ISD process. And that is the only reason to gather any data about the target audience—to influence those ISD decisions that you will inevitably face downstream.

For Project Planning, I need TAD—which job title(s) and for which process(es) are agreed to be the targets for efforts for the analysis, design, development, and so forth.

For Analysis, I need TAD to help me sort out output and task involvement and responsibilities in my performance modeling efforts, and who needs which of the enabling knowledge and skills derived in the next analysis step.

For Design, I need TAD to determine who to address fully and partially, and how to configure the shareable and unique content objects into the right number of instructional products to both increase performance impact and reduce content redundancy’s increased costs for development, administration, deployment, and maintenance.

For Development, I need TAD to determine the number of sub-populations to test the instructional content’s integrity related to its completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness, and its instructional effectiveness as measured in both developmental testing and pilot-testing efforts.

For Implementation, I need TAD to determine who will need to be informed regarding the instructional products’ availability, accessibility, and so forth, and to determine how we will need to roll out or launch the instruction for different audiences.

For Evaluation, I need TAD to determine how many distinct evaluations will potentially be necessary.

One of the things I like to do to get this started is to get the client or the Project Steering Team to collectively, up front, tell me which job titles are in the primary, secondary, and tertiary target audiences. I define the target audiences as follows:

  • Primary Target Audience: We intend to focus on and consider any and all of their knowledge and skills needs—as scoped by the intent of the project—and provide instructional content (including job aids, EPPS, etc.) to meet all of their needs.
  • Secondary Target Audience: We may need to consider some of their knowledge and skills needs and provide instructional content to meet some of their needs.
  • Tertiary Target Audience: This audience is outside our scope entirely, but could be confused by some to be included. This group is used to clarify “who we will not focus on,” address, or consider at all from a knowledge and skills needs standpoint.
Then, for each group or job title, we try to generally pin down the following data points, or we discuss the likely sources:

  • Population sizes (current, near-term, long-term)
  • Working (or home room) locations for those populations
  • Educational background for each job title*
  • Experience background for each job title*
  • Years in the job or experience levels for each job title*
  • First language or language issues for each job title*
  • Feasible/Non-Feasible instructional deployment platforms*
*whatever can be generalized, or specifics related to any divergence from the norm for the target audience(s)

This data gathering and discussion gets the client group thinking about some of the implications of the initially roughed out data, especially if I point those things out to them as part of my data summarization and confirmation process. This brings up a point about data precision: How precise do I have to be regarding the data? Usually, not very. I am typically looking for “what is safe to generalize” and “what is not safe to generalize.” For example, knowing the population size is approximately 75, give or take three or four, is probably close enough. Or that it is roughly 2,500. Or that the majority of the target audience have advanced engineering degrees. Of course, there are situational exceptions where exacting precision is required. But not often.

And there are other “data points” that you might need due to your ISD process specifics. If you are working within a highly regulated industry, chances are that you have additional data needs to support having the mandated paper trail available for future regulatory needs.

Having clarified the “who” for our ISD efforts via the TAD approach, we can shift our focus to their performance expectations and any current gaps and causes from desired levels of performance, which we will cover next month in: The Performance Model.

Guy W. Wallace, CPT, has been an external ISD and HPT consultant since1982, is the president of EPPIC Inc., has been a member of ISPI since 1979, is a past president of ISPI, is the author of lean-ISD, and is a recipient of an ISPI 2002 Award of Excellence. He may be reached via guy.wallace@eppic.biz and related resources may be obtained at his website: www.eppic.biz.

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2007 conference logo

ISPI Conference Blog Is Live!

The committee for the 2007 International Performance Improvement Conference is proud to announce that ISPI’s first International Conference blog is now open for posts or comments. We are hoping the use of this technology will serve to grow our vital, professional community by enhancing our ability to publicly exchange information and ideas.

Another compelling reason for introducing the ISPI blog is the utility of RSS (real simple syndication) feeds. The population using RSS to stay up-to-date in their profession is growing rapidly and it is important that information about ISPI be available via RSS. RSS is similar to an inexpensive, online clipping service. People subscribe to specific blogs using RSS and/or they use RSS to search all blogs using keywords. The results of their RSS subscriptions are pulled into a single interface (sometimes Outlook, sometimes a blog reading application), which spares the user the time-consuming chore of manually scanning and searching for information.

Blog screen

Guest Bloggers Wanted
Anyone can comment to a post on a blog by clicking the “comments” link at the end of the message, but only guest bloggers can start a new post. The good news is that anyone can become a guest blogger. Just send an email message to dawnp@learninggurus.com.

Posting a message is as easy as typing an email and you’ll be notified by email when anyone comments on your post. Email notification can be turned off, if necessary, so don’t be afraid of heavy traffic and tons of email. Even the most popular blog sites maintain a very manageable number of comments.

You may be particularly interested in the category entitled “What’s New.” Use this category to announce new books, products, and projects at absolutely no charge.

Please visit ISPI’s first blog at www.ispi.typepad.com. Be sure to subscribe using either the email feature or the “Subscribe to this blog’s feed” RSS link located on the bottom of the right sidebar.

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The Systematic Design of Performance Improvement Systems

Improving performance is a worthy ambition for individuals and organizations alike, but the path from ambition to the accomplishment of useful results can be a difficult one to navigate. Although visions, missions, and strategic plans are valuable and necessary foundations for accomplishing beneficial results, you can only improve performance by selecting, designing, and developing capable performance technologies. The Performance by Design approach and framework can systematically guide you through the processes, procedures, tools, and techniques that are most valuable in creating performance systems that achieve useful results.

A Systematic Process
Effective approaches to improving human and organizational performance do not rely on any specific activity, intervention, or solution to accomplish desired results. Equally, you do not want to rely on an instructional design approach, an electronic performance support approach, or a knowledge management approach to improve performance in your organization. Rather, apply a systematic process for selecting, designing, and developing a system of performance technologies based on their individual and combined abilities to accomplish desired results (see Figure 1).

Model illustration

Figure 1. A Systematic Model for Selecting, Designing, and Developing Performance Improvement Systems.

The pragmatic practice of creating valuable performance improvements begins with the identification of which results are desired and how those results can be aligned with strategic objectives. This discriminating focus on the results that are to be accomplished will guide each and all of the steps that follow. Hence, the hallmark of making systematic performance improvements is postponing the selection of performance technologies until after clear objectives and evaluation criteria have been established. It actually is not until after the desired results have been defined and related to current performance within the organization that you can adequately evaluate which performance technologies (such as mentoring, job aids, employee retention, training, performance appraisals, simulations, reengineering) will achieve desired results.

Selecting Performance Technologies
Assess the capabilities of various potential performance technologies before identifying the right combination of interventions for achieving desired results. From coaching programs and empowerment seminars to e-learning and electronic performance support, you want to select the right combination of performance technologies for accomplishing useful results. A systemic performance improvement initiative can then be created to address the complex challenges and opportunities of the organization, in place of the random-acts-of-improvement that are common in many organizations. You can then design and develop a system of performance technologies that will work both individually and collectively to improve performance (such as blending career planning, health and wellness programs, and motivation seminars; or combining incentive systems, e-learning, process redesign, and ergonomic improvement).

Performance by Design is an approach that can be used by individuals, teams, divisions, or organizations alike. It integrates multiple problem-solving (and opportunity-finding) models to create a framework that can be applied in many situations to accomplish useful results. The framework illustrates a systematic process for selecting, designing, and developing valuable performance improvement systems. Either in combination with other organizational development processes or as a standalone initiative, Performance by Design can help you accomplish desired results through the creation of performance improvement systems (rather than singular performance technologies).

The success and merits of a performance improvement effort are directly related to the results it achieves and the contributions it makes to the organization, its partners, and society. For this reason, the Performance by Design approach aligns all decisions about what should be done with agreed-upon objectives of what should be accomplished. The steps, processes, procedures, techniques, and tools in the Performance by Design framework help guide you through the selection, design, and development of performance technologies that achieve useful results. Each step along the way is focused on contributing to your success as well as the success of others.

About the Book
Performance by Design: The systematic selection, design, and development of performance technologies that produce useful results (2007; HRD Press) is the third volume in the Defining and Delivering Successful Professional Practice six-book series co-published with the International Society for Performance Improvement. The series editors are Roger Kaufman, Dale Brethower, and Richard Gerson. Other currently available books in the series include Change Choices and Consequences; Achieving High Performance; and Evaluation and Continual Improvement of Results.

Ryan Watkins, PhD, is an Associate Professor at George Washington University in Washington DC. He is the author of 75 E-learning Activities: Making Online Courses Interactive (2005; Wiley), E-learning Companion: A student’s guide to online success (2007; Houghton Mifflin), Strategic Planning for Success: Aligning, people, performance, and payoffs (2004; Wiley), and Useful Educational Results: Defining, prioritizing, and achieving (2001; Proactive Publishing). Ryan is as an active member of ISPI community. He may be reached at www.ryanrwatkins.com.

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Perfromance by Design book cover



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Bringing Out the Best in Every Generation: Performance Beyond ClashPoints

For the first time in history, four distinct generations are shoulder to shoulder in the workplace, each with a unique set of attitudes, values, and work styles. Now, regardless of culture or geography, roles are all over the map and rules are being rewritten. Don’t miss generational expert Lynne Lancaster, on Tuesday, May 1, during ISPI’s 2007 International Performance Improvement Conference, as she explains what shaped the generations in the workplace today and why they behave the way they do.

Learn about ClashPoints™—areas at work where the generations are bumping up against each other and causing conflict. 

  • Find out what to do about the upcoming talent gap. 
  • Grasp the keys to retaining the generations you need the most. 

Lynne’s high energy, enlightening, and entertaining presentation will help you bridge the gaps and enhance performance in every generation.

Lynne Lancaster is an internationally recognized speaker and cultural translator. She is the author, with business partner David Stillman, of When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work. (HarperCollins 2003). Together they have appeared in numerous publications such as TIME Magazine, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as on CNN, CNBC, and the TODAY Show.

For the most up-to-date information, visit www.ispi.org/ac2007. Early bird registration deadline is Friday, February 16. Register today and save!

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Lynne Lancaster



Performance Marketplace

Performance Marketplace is a convenient way to exchange information of interest to the performance improvement community. Take a few moments each month to scan the listings for important new events, publications, services, and employment opportunities. To post information for our readers, contact ISPI Director of Marketing, Keith Pew at keithp@ispi.org or 301.587.8570.

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Half-, One-, and Two-Day Workshops now available! Performance Beyond Borders, ISPI/IFTDO 2007 International Performance Improvement Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 30-May 3. Visit www.ispi.org/ac2007.

Workshops for the Performance Professional: Space is filling up quickly: February 20-21 and 22-23, 2007. Be the next one in your organization to experience this unique, two-day, peer-to-peer educational opportunity led by exceptional performance improvement professionals.



Education and Career Resources
Online and in-person MA & Graduate Certificate Programs. Instructional Systems Development, Instructional Technology, and e-Learning at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. GREs not required. Faculty are practitioners. Click here for more information.

ISPI Online CareerSite is your source for performance improvement employment. Search listings and manage your resume and job applications online.

Magazines, Newsletters, and Journals
International Journal of Coaching in Organizations (IJCO) is a professional journal, published quarterly to provide reflection and critical analysis of coaching in organizations. The journal offers research and experiential learning from experienced practitioners representing various coaching schools and methodologies.

Performance Improvement journal is available to subscribers in print and online through John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Click here to order your subscription today.

Performance Improvement Quarterly, co-published by ISPI and FSU, is a peer-reviewed journal created to stimulate professional discussion in the field and to advance the discipline of HPT through literature reviews, experimental studies with a scholarly base, and case studies. Subscribe today!

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ISPI Membership: Join or Renew Today!

Are you working to improve workplace performance? Then ISPI membership is your key to professional development through education, certification, networking, and professional affinity programs.

If you are already a member, we thank you for your support. If you have been considering membership or are about to renew, there is no better time to join ISPI. To apply for membership or renew, simply click here.

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Newsletter Submission Guidelines

ISPI is looking for Human Performance Technology (HPT) articles (approximately 500 words and not previously published) for PerformanceXpress that bridge the gap from research to practice (please, no product or service promotion is permitted). Below are a few examples of the article formats that can be used:

  • Short “I wish I had thought of that” Articles
  • Practical Application Articles
  • The Application of HPT
  • Success Stories

In addition to the article, please include a short bio (2-3 lines) and a contact e-mail address. All submissions should be sent to april@ispi.org. Each article will be reviewed by one of ISPI’s on-staff HPT experts, and the author will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any further questions, please contact april@ispi.org.

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About PerformanceXpress

Feel free to forward ISPI’s PerformanceXpress newsletter to your colleagues or anyone you think may benefit from the information. If you are reading someone else’s PerformanceXpress, send your complete contact information to april@ispi.org, and you will be added to the PerformanceXpress emailing list.

PerformanceXpress is an ISPI member benefit designed to build community, stimulate discussion, and keep you informed of the Society’s activities and events. This newsletter is published monthly and will be emailed to you at the beginning of each month.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact April Davis, ISPI’s Associate Executive Director, at april@ispi.org.

ISPI Executive
1400 Spring Street, Suite 260
Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA
Phone: 301.587.8570
Fax: 301.587.8573

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