Performance Mapping: A Visual Approach to Performance Improvement
by Kathleen Iverson, PhD, Roosevelt University and George Vukotich, PhD, Roosevelt University
Concept maps are an innovative approach to planning and organizing learning and performance interventions. Initially you may use a concept map to identify a problem and its root causes, and then later use the mapping system to plan appropriate interventions. Concept maps can enhance your ability to analyze problems and develop appropriate solutions as you visualize priorities and identify relationships between performance drivers. Concept maps will help you:
Organize performance data
Analyze relationships between performance drivers
Build on your existing knowledge base and assimilate new information with old (Ausubel, Novak, & Hanesian, 1986)
Identify gaps in performance
How to create a Performance Map
The steps involved in developing a Performance Map coincide with those of the human performance improvement process. The process begins with performance analysis where the practitioner measures the gap between desired and actual performance (Rossett, 1992, 1987).
Step 1: Develop a Basic Diagram and Anchor your Map
Using the performance data you collected during performance analysis, begin your Performance Map by developing a basic diagram of the issue at hand. In the center of the map, note the “Performance Gap” and the “Desired State” to quickly anchor your map (see Figure 1). The center of your map contains the reason for seeking your services and the outcomes you hope to achieve. Keep in mind anchors are not set in stone and may be changed as you complete the process.
Step 2: Analyze and Group Data
Once you have identified the performance gap, the next step is to identify the root causes of the gap. Here you will identify and group the most important assessment data related to the reason for the performance gap as you seek to answer the question, “Why does this performance gap exist?”
In Figure 1, you see an example of a performance gap—a sales team is unable to reach its quota. The gap and desired outcome are included in the center anchor and the eight root causes and data flow outward. Each root cause includes a brief synopsis of the data that supports the cause. The more complex the problem, the greater number of root causes you must identify and assess.
Figure 1: Performance Map
Step 3: Analyzing Relationships
Root causes are often interrelated. In Figure 1, a 20% increase in turnover (root cause 1) is related to the increase in stress (root cause 2) and also lack of leadership (root cause 5). The Performance Map shows a visual connection between related issues (see red arrows and lines).
Step 4: Prioritize Root Causes
Although each root cause is important, not all contribute to the performance gap equally. When time and resources are limited, it may be impossible to address all root causes. In this step, you will prioritize each root cause according to its importance or contribution to the performance gap. In the example, understaffing is the primary root cause of the performance gap (root cause 1) followed by Workplace Stress (root cause 2), Motivation (root cause 3), etc. When you note interconnections between root causes, it might also be advantageous to give high priority to those root causes that affect others directly as resolution of these issues will have far reaching affects.
Step 5: Selection of Interventions
After determining root causes, step 5 involves selecting interventions to address the performance problem. The Performance Map will allow you to visually connect interventions and causes and also to further build outward from the anchor. Figure 2 includes a build out of interventions relating to Root Cause 1: team is understaffed. Notice the two primary interventions are to initiate selection process and initiate turnover reduction process. Each intervention involves additional actionable items and the diagram continues to branch outward to depict these components.
Figure 2: Root Cause and Interventions
Using Your Performance Map
Your Performance Map provides a comprehensive “big picture” look at the performance issues, causes, and interventions. It can be used throughout the change process and can serve as:
A reference tool (carry a smaller version with you as you collect data and implement change)
A communication tool (use it as the basis of a report, update, or presentation)
A visual map (create posters, a website, job aids, or EPSS) that shows the interaction among root causes and interventions
You may also build your map to include responses to each intervention. It can serve as a guide as you create project proposals and final reports, offering a skeletal outline to serve as a support.
Although Performance Maps cannot substitute for thorough analysis, appropriate intervention, and sound evaluation processes, they can make the process easier to get your arms around. Maps are a fun, creative, and nonlinear way to identify components and examine relationships between the complex ideas and practices that typically are found in the human performance improvement process.
Ausubel, D.P., Novak, J.D. and Hanesian, H. (1986). Educational psychology: A cognitive view. New York: Werbel & Peck.
Rossett, A. (1987) Training needs assessment: Techniques in training and performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Education Technology Publications.
Rossett, A. (1992). Analysis of human performance problems. In H.D. Stolovitch and E.J. Keeps, eds., Handbook of human performance technology: A comprehensive guide for analyzing and solving performance problems. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kathleen Iverson is associate professor of Training and Development at Roosevelt University located in Chicago, Illinois, where she teaches graduate level courses in human performance improvement, organization development, research methodology, training foundations, consulting, and evaluation. She holds a PhD from Loyola University Chicago in Training and Organization Development with a minor in Quantitative Research Methods. Her publications include books and research articles that address human performance improvement, e learning, organization strategy, instructional design, and human resource management. Kathleen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Vukotich is chair of the Graduate Program in Performance Improvement at Roosevelt University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in corporate, consulting, military, and educational environments with clients in the finance, telecommunications, manufacturing, retailing, healthcare, and government industries. Some of the organizations he has worked with include: Andersen Consulting, IBM, Booz, Allen and Hamilton, McKinsey, Motorola, Exelon and BP-Amoco. George holds a PhD in the area of Organizational Development from Loyola University along with an MBA in Finance and an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Although Performance Maps cannot substitute for thorough analysis, appropriate intervention, and sound evaluation processes, they can make the process easier to get your arms around.
TrendSpotters Happy Holidays!
by Carol Haig, CPT, and Roger Addison, CPT, EdD
As this year draws to a close, we consider all that has happened in the last 12 months in the world, in the US, in our profession, and in our own lives. It has been quite a ride for most people and in the spirit of looking forward with optimism, we reflect on the following:
Many of us have struggled professionally this year. We have lost jobs, taken on the work of others who have been laid off, been demoted in the name of cost-cutting, lost critical clients, and have been challenged to find work. Here at TrendSpotters Central, we believe as long as there is curiosity, energy, determination, and learning, the world of work will continue to evolve, offering opportunities to innovate and make a contribution. Performance, as we know, always has room for improvement.
In the spirit of professional growth, we recommend a visit to www.BPTrends.com. Readers interested in business process trends will find this website a valuable source of news and information relating to all aspects of business process change. Paul Harmon, BP Trends co-founder, is a long-time supporter of ISPI, a TrendSpotters guest, as well as a respected market analyst, newsletter editor, consultant, and author. You will find articles by other ISPI members including, for November 2009, the first of what we hope will be many quarterly columns on Performance Architecture written by us.
December 2009 marks the end of our eighth year writing TrendSpotters. This is the longest continually running column in the history of PerformanceXpress. We are pleased to have brought you the ideas, models, and tools of some of the very best thinkers we are privileged to know. We have had a wonderful time talking with our guests and writing up the resulting articles. We trust you have learned as much as we have and look forward to bringing you more of the finest information we can source in 2010.
We wish our readers and their families a peaceful holiday season filled with the love of people important to you and the enjoyment of the traditions you hold dear. We wish you hope and joy for 2010.
Getting business results from training, or any learning intervention (for example, coaching), is determined by both instructional factors and organizational factors. The instructional factors have become fairly clear (see article by Kelly King from the November 2009 issue of PerformanceXpress. Less clear are the organizational factors. Take for example the case of Sam.
Sam is a Systems Engineering Manager for a technology services company. His boss nominated Sam to attend the company’s New Leader Development Program. Sam’s boss didn’t say much about his reasons, other than that this was a course that Sam hadn’t attended yet and it looked like an opportunity for Sam to “sharpen” his leadership skills. Sam showed up at the first day of a three-day, off-site workshop without a clear understanding of the purpose of the program and what he was supposed to learn and do differently as a result. However, the facilitator was especially engaging and Sam had a “terrific experience.” He met many new people from other functions and business units, and felt that he “learned a lot.” At the end of the third day, Sam gave the workshop the top rating on the evaluation form.
On returning to his office, Sam told his boss about how the workshop emphasized the value of cross-functional teamwork. Sam’s boss responded with a warning that trying to collaborate with the Marketing and Sales groups was a waste of time. Sam’s boss pessimistically stated that those departments don’t understand systems engineering-and, furthermore, his previous attempts at collaboration with Sales and Marketing had failed. After that, Sam didn’t try to apply any of the content from the New Leader Development Program. When interviewed about the program six months later, Sam reported that nothing he had learned in the Program had contributed to business results for his business unit or for the company. (From the e-book, Getting More From Your Investment in Training: The 5As Framework by S.J. Gill & S.P. Murray)
In Sam’s case, quality of training was not the barrier to performance; it was other factors. From research and from our own observations of many situations like this, we have identified five organizational factors that contribute to the impact of learning interventions. We believe when learners and managers of learners attend to these factors, it is much more likely that training will contribute to business success. These factors are:
These factors make up what we call the “5As Framework”. This framework should be a guide for Human Performance Technology (HPT) professionals as well as managers of learners. After all, managers are the gatekeepers to learning. If they truly want their investment in performance improvement to pay off, they need to pay attention to each of the 5As: 1) aligning learning interventions with strategic business goals; 2) anticipating and setting the expectations that the learning intervention will have an impact on the success of the organization; 3) forming a learning alliance between learner and manager that supports learning and application of that learning; 4) providing opportunities for learners to apply what they learned in meaningful ways; and 5) being accountable for learning and its impact on the organization.
This framework should be a guide for HPT professionals as well as managers of learners.
Training on Trial: The Urgent Need to Become a Strategic Business Partner
In 1959, Don Kirkpatrick wrote four articles that soon after became known as the Kirkpatrick Four Levels of Evaluation (reaction, learning, behavior, results). It is a widely known fact that this model is the global standard in the industry. What isn’t widely known is that in those original articles over 50 years ago, Don wrote the words, “Training managers had better learn to evaluate their programs in relation to the needs of the business before the day of reckoning arrives.”
We believe that for most learning professionals and organizations, the day of reckoning is here. On December 16 at 1:00 pm EST, Jim Kirkpatrick, PhD, Vice President, Global Training and Consulting, SMR USA, will help you prepare for the time when you are asked, or proactively choose, to effectively create and then demonstrate the value of your learning’s contribution to the bottom line.
Why, after 50 years, are we not all doing enough of this? We have been all too comfortable in our role to design, develop, and deliver training programs. While our industry is on trial, accused of costs exceeded our value, there has never been a better opportunity for us to create a learning and performance legacy, as executives the world over are looking for any means of getting back on track.
Five foundational principles of executing this business partnership approach that will be detailed include:
The end is the beginning (and you thought it all starts at Level 1!)
Return on ExpectationsSM is the ultimate indicator of value
Business partnership is necessary to bring about positive ROESM
Value must be created before it can be demonstrated
A compelling Chain of EvidenceSM demonstrates your bottom line value
Along with this will be the presentation of the complete, fresh look at the Kirkpatrick Model.
During Jim’s SkillCast webinar, you will:
Obtain practical methods that will move you from a “checkmark training organization” to a strategic business partner
Learn how to Leverage Level 3 to maximize the impact of training on the bottom line
Learn how to use the Kirkpatrick Business Partnership ModelSM to demonstrate the value of training to a “corporate jury”
Register today for Jim’s December 16 SkillCast webinar, Training on Trial: The Urgent Need to Become a Strategic Business Partner, and you will:
finally be able to get beyond, “smile sheets, pre and posttests, and hope for the best”
better be able to leverage the true Kirkpatrick Model to increase your impact to your stakeholders
learn how to target your learning initiative efforts on what is truly mission critical
find out how to get more detailed information on all of the concepts and techniques presented
learn about best practices from Fortune 500 companies including Harley-Davidson, Georgia-Pacific, and L’Oreal
About the Facilitator
Jim Kirkpatrick, PhD, is the Vice President of Global Training and Consulting for SMR USA. He presents workshops for and provides consulting to Fortune 500 companies around the world, primarily in the field of evaluation. Jim has recently worked with clients including Harley-Davidson, Booz Allen Hamilton, L’Oreal, Clarian Health Care, Ingersoll Rand, Honda Manufacturing, the Royal Air Force, and the Abu Dhabi Police Department. Jim’s major areas of expertise are implementing the four levels of evaluation, coaching managers to reinforce training, the business partnership model, and executing strategy. Jim has co-written 3 books on evaluation and leveraging business success with his father, Don Kirkpatrick, the developer of the four levels. With his wife and partner Wendy, he has co-authored Kirkpatrick Then and Now (Kirkpatrick Partners, 2009) and Training on Trial, which is due to be released by AMACOM in February, 2010.
Season Pass: Still Available and Still the Best Value!
Purchase a season pass (attendance to all 12 SkillCast webinars), and save 30% off the individual program rate. All it takes is 60 minutes one Wednesday each month. When you register, you will receive links to the recorded programs from November: Using Web 2.0 to Maximize Organization Performance, Jim Hill, CPT, EdD and Explaining Performance Issues to Executives, Gary DePaul, CPT, PhD.
In addition, special organizational packages have been designed for our larger companies. For more details, call ISPI at 301-587-8570. Please click here for the complete schedule of speakers and topics.
What if you’re so busy you can’t make it? Or even worse you forget about it? We’ve got you covered! We’ll send you access to the downloadable recorded program to learn at your convenience. What are you waiting for? Take advantage of this incredible learning opportunity: register now!
Purchase your season pass today for only $649 members, $899 for non-members, or a Corporate Seat Season Pass for $1,429.
Get Your Hands on 73 Chapters of the Best in Workplace Performance Improvement:
Handbook of Improving Performance in the WorkplaceThree-Volume Series
No bookshelf is complete without a copy of ISPI’s new handbook series focused on Instructional Design and Training Delivery, Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions, and Measurement and Evaluation. ISPI members who order before December 31, 2009, save 30% on the three volume set. Click here to login and get the details. If you are not a member, join now to save.
ISPI and John Wiley & Sons, Inc. partnered with our members and co-editors Joan Dessinger, Rob Foshay, Doug Leigh, Jim Moseley, Ken Silber, and Ryan Watkins to bring you a reference library covering core topics in the growing fields of individual and organizational performance improvement, training and development, and workplace learning.
Each Handbook stands alone as a rigorous body of knowledge under the banner of ISPI’s “performance landscape” and for the first time provides a unified and authoritative compendium of standard principles and best practices for improving productivity and performance in the workplace. Featuring best-in-field researchers, thinkers, and practitioners across several disciplines and geographic boundaries, each volume provides a current review for the three core areas of improving performance in the workplace:
Volume One: Instructional Design and Training Delivery
The field of instructional design and delivery does not stand still. The techniques learned in graduate school or workshops, while still somewhat valid, have grown and changed. The field has moved from being a process to being a set of principles, the focus has moved concentrating on algorithmic problem solving and single concepts, to high-level problem solving and knowledge structures, the instructional strategy mix has grown, and the learning and research base on which the field is based have changed drastically. With a focus on measured learning outcomes, instructional design and training delivery professionals who practice the state of the art described in this book will bring to their clients an approach to high-value, targeted, and cost-effective training which historically has eluded.
Volume Two: Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions
Striving to improve human and organizational performance is a worthwhile ambition, even when path to success is uncertain. The challenges associated with improving performance are, after all, the opportunities that lead to significant improvements in individual and organizational results. Finding answers to the difficult questions about which activities, or combinations of activities, will best improve performance is routinely a demanding--and yet thought-provoking--curve on the road to success. As such, the processes used to make these critical decisions about what to do in order to improve performance are the essential choices that determine your capacity to be successful. This book provides both foundational knowledge on the identification and selection of valuable performance interventions, as well as useful guidelines for how to implement a variety of improvement activities within organizations
Volume Three: Measurement and Evaluation
In our need to produce evidence-based results, evaluation, training, and human performance specialists of all kinds are continuously challenged to show that their work makes a difference on the organization’s bottom line. Practitioners must show that what is done in measurement and evaluation improves efficiency and effectiveness, makes a sustainable impact in the organization, and has both short term and long term value in terms of products, processes, services, and other factors. Practitioners must also begin to show what we do in measurement and evaluation really matters. We do this by focusing on business goals and results; aligning individuals, jobs, processes, and organizational levels; evaluating what is significant for the organization; measuring both soft and hard data and tracking results; partnering and searching for new ways to add value; ethically handling our managerial, technical, and conceptual approaches; remaining credible by keeping current in the world of measurement and evaluation. This book provides perspectives on measurement and evaluation, looks at foundational aspects, and provides future thinking and insights for additional exploration. It also offers robust measurement and evaluation practices matter in all areas of business, government, education, industry, human services, social services, and other areas where people doing their everyday jobs can influence change.
These Handbooks embrace performance improvement as a pragmatic science that seeks to accomplish valuable results for individuals, teams, organizations, and all of society through evidence-based practice and provide a user-friendly guide that practitioners, students, researchers, and others can use, regardless of their experience or academic training.
Register by December 18 to Win!
Register to attend THE Performance Improvement Conference in San Francisco, April 19–22, 2010, by December 18 for your best conference value, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a copy of ISPI’s new Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace Series ($450 retail value).
Register to attend THE Performance Improvement Conference in San Francisco, April 19-22, 2010, by December 18 and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a copy of ISPI’s new Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace Series ($450 retail value).
It Is Your Turn: Call for Articles
Do you have an interesting topic or experience to share with our readers? Have you had a professional experience, case study, or situation worth writing about? Then ISPI calls on you to submit a short article (approximately 500 words and not previously published) to PerformanceXpress. We welcome contributions from all over the world.
These articles can be “I wish I had thought of that,” real-world applications of HPT, or success stories. If you have any questions or possible ideas for an article topic, please contact John Chen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Three Challenges of Selling Human Performance Technology:
Part 2—Speaking the Language of Business
by Paul D. Swan, PhD, Darryl L. Sink & Associates
In Part 1 of this series (PerformanceXpress, November 2009), we determined we are all in the business of Human Performance Technology and we all face three challenges in selling our services:
Speaking our organization’s business language
Documenting meaningful results
In this article, I will focus on the second challenge.
Do your manager and executive team speak the language of HPT? Do their eyes glaze over when you mention performance objectives or criterion-referenced testing?
On the other hand, what language does management speak? Typically, it is the language of business: budget, profit, or some other organizational need.
It is nice, but it is not necessary that management learn to speak HPT-ese. However, it is critical that all HPT practitioners learn to speak the language of the business of their organization.
A good starting point is for you to thoroughly understand and articulate the business need for every HPT project with which you are involved. A business need should be the driver of all HPT projects and interventions.
A good HPT business need should describe a lack of performance of particular group(s) of people and the impact on the organization. The business need should also describe how improved performance by these people will positively impact the key performance indicators of the organization.
The business need should not describe the HPT intervention. The HPT intervention is not the need nor the end goal, but merely a means to achieve the end goal of improved human and organizational performance.
Unfortunately, too many HPT practitioners see their business needs as something like “the order processors need an e-leaning training course” and never drill down to determine what the real problem and opportunity entail.
The reality is many of us receive assignments for HPT projects from executive management that are expressed in these deficient terms, “I need you to create program X.” After many years of experience, I have learned not to take these words at face value, but instead to translate them into the language of business. I now interpret these words to mean, “I have a problem that is causing me and the organization some significant pain. Can you provide me with a solution?” My HPT solutions are better and more successful if I can define the real problem and its causes and determine an appropriate, custom-designed intervention.
A key phrase to master in speaking the language of business is Return on Investment (ROI). You should be able to demonstrate how an investment in an HPT project will provide a return to the organization. For example, use a spreadsheet to create realistic estimates of expenses and conservative estimates of gains. I can send you an Excel template that can help you predict the return on investment of your HPT projects. Just send me an email at email@example.com, and I will share it to you.
By speaking the language of ROI, you will be in a better position to compete for limited resources in your organization. If you can demonstrate a 5X return on investment and a competing project can only predict a 2X return, you certainly are more likely to get the green light and the support you need.
Lastly, with regard to the language of business, your goal should be to become a “profit center” instead of a “cost center.” The difference in perceived value to the organization and in your job security is likely to be significant.
Paul Swan, PhD, has been designing and developing training for 20 years. He is an associate of Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc. (DSA), a firm specializing in human performance consulting, custom training development, and instructional design and e-learning workshops. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The business need should also describe how improved performance by these people will positively impact the key performance indicators of the organization.
2010 World Café Conversations
by Eileen Banchoff, CPT, PhD, 2010 Conference Committee
How would you like to dialogue with 50-100 passionate human performance improvement practitioners at THE Performance Improvement Conference on April 19-22, 2010, in San Francisco, CA? Every year, ISPI’s annual conference offers attendees more than 200 opportunities to meet, talk, and learn from many of our global colleagues at educational sessions, cracker barrels, master series, general sessions, and mentoring/networking events. This year, we have added another very powerful, innovative approach to bring us together around questions that matter—a World Café Conversation. This proven, large-group dialogue process is guaranteed to help us interact with more conference-attending professionals than ever before, while we try to “nail down” our collective intelligence.
World Café Conversations (WCC), based on the principles and format developed by the World Café, are built on the assumption that we already have the wisdom and creativity within us to confront even the most difficult challenges we currently are experiencing (or expect to experience). At the conference, Society and Chapter Leaders will convene a five-part forum where we can share our wisdom and creativity with other attending HPI specialists, Society leaders, and ISPI staff. The 2010 WCC goal will be to access our deeper communal knowledge about what is important to improve human performance and then determine how we can best put some of this knowledge to use.
The five, 90-minute Café Conversations will each include three rounds of small, voluntary conversation clusters addressing ideas, questions, or issues that genuinely matter to us. We’ll talk, write, doodle, and draw key ideas, which will then be synthesized and captured as useful Café outcomes! Discussion topics (still to be determined) will possibly include challenges in our profession/practice/principles, along with issues we’ll face due to emerging trends and the ever-changing business environment.
Join us at the San Francisco Marriott for at least one of the five Café Conversations as we flip the old saying of “Less talk and more work.” Let’s begin to do more talking, Café style, when we come together at THE Performance Improvement Conference 2010.
If you would like to facilitate a Café or have suggestions about possible topics, please contact me at email@example.com.
Register by December 18 to Win!
Register to attend THE Performance Improvement Conference in San Francisco, April 19-22, 2010, by December 18 for your best conference value, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a copy of ISPI’s new Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace Series ($450 retail value).
Register today to take advantage of a member rate of $750 or a non-member rate of $1000 until December 18, 2009.
Call for Applications: Distinguished Dissertation Award Competition
The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is currently accepting applications for the 2010 Distinguished Dissertation Awards. This initiative funded by the Research Committee aims at honoring excellence in student research. Three tiers of reward accompany the awards ($1500 for first place, $1000 for second, and $500 for third). Only doctoral dissertation research defended between May 31, 2006 and December 31, 2009 are eligible. Dissertations must be defended and approved by the student’s committee prior to applying for the award and may be applied for by students of any accredited university throughout the world. Studies not conducted as part of dissertation research, as well as recipients of ISPI’s Distinguished Dissertation Award from previous years, are not eligible. Applicants from prior years who did not receive the award, may reapply so long as they meet all other requirements. Half of recipients’ monetary reward will be paid upon announcement of award winners with the remaining funds to be paid upon submission of a manuscript for consideration in Performance Improvement Quarterly (which must be received no later than August 30, 2010). Award recipients are also encouraged to consider submitting a proposal to present at the 2011 annual conference.
To apply for the award, please submit the following:
A double spaced two-page (maximum) cover letter describing a) your research, b) its alignment with one or more of Human Performance Technology Standards (HPT) (available at www.ispi.org/content.aspx?id=418), and c) the utility of the study for both HPT scholars and practitioners.
A 350-word (maximum) abstract describing your study’s background, purpose, research questions or objectives, importance, instrumentation, methods, findings and conclusions. Please do not submit a references list or bibliography, though any citations should be included within the text.
An emailed letter of recommendation from your faculty advisor addressing your study’s rationale (why your topic merited investigation) and value (the applied and theoretical benefits of the study). Please ensure contact information is available.
Your current curriculum vitae and contact information.
Application Deadline: January 8, 2010. Please submit completed applications to Hillary Leigh, Chair of the ISPI Research Committee, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “ISPI Dissertation Award.”
Applications for the Distinguished Dissertation Award are due by January 8, 2010.
Tales From the Field Three Types of Systems Necessary in a Systems View
by Donald Winiecki, EdD, PhD, Boise State University
Tales from the Field, a monthly column, consists of reports of evidence-based performance improvement practice and advice, presented by graduate students, alumni, and faculty of Boise State University’s Instructional and Performance Technology department.
HPT Takes a Systems View
When practicing Human Performance Technology (HPT), it is imperative to take a systems view. The term, systems view, may trigger you to think of several adjectives such as holistic, integrated, or total. However, if you have difficulty providing a more comprehensive explanation as to what a systems view might look like, it is a good reason to turn your attention to seeking additional knowledge about a systems view. In this case, organizational sociology is a good source for learning about different types of systems. An introduction to different types of systems may help you as an HPT practitioner to better understand what might constitute a systems view.
Three Types of Systems
There are three basic types of systems which we may encounter—(1) rational, (2) natural, and (3) open (Scott & Davis, 2007).
Rational systems are perhaps the most common organizational type, owing to their creation at the origin of modern organizations in the mid 19th century with the then popular idea that organizations were like machines with parts that could be individually engineered and then assembled into more complex apparatuses (Hoskin & Macve, 1994). Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management” is perhaps the most recognizable example of rational systems ideology. With links between ideas in scientific management and Gilbert’s formulations (Chyung, 2005), we have reason to say that the very foundation of HPT is also affected by these ideas.
Rational systems are at their strongest when the operating characteristics of an organization and all components of the surrounding systems can be controlled. While Frederick Taylor’s ideas were mostly limited to workgroups and corporate systems, he promoted his ideas to the U. S. Congress in an effort to have it impose controls on society so that scientific management could work its hypothetical magic (Taylor, 1972). However, when internal or external conditions change beyond the ability of a rational system to be adapted, it becomes weaker. In such a case, the rational system may at best simply remain efficient at doing things that no longer have to be done.
Natural systems follow Elton Mayo’s ‘human relations’ school of management, which in turn was partly based on the theory that organizations (and societies) are like organisms with multiple components similar to organs in a metaphorical body. In order for the organization/body to thrive, each component/organ must adapt so that it can fulfill its role even as the overall organism adapts to changes from its environment. The idea is similar to Spencer’s concept of social-evolution (Adams & Sydie, 2002) where each component must adapt to remain fit; otherwise it fails in terms of the surrounding ecology.
Natural systems became more prevalent following WW2 when countries tried to rebuild themselves even with limited numbers of able-bodied individuals. Great Britain turned to academics at the Tavistock Institute who developed counseling-based practices such as the ‘T-group’, and where techniques of team work and team-based innovation were developed to keep workers motivated, productive and somewhat self-managing even through very difficult times. TQM, process improvement, and other recent innovations arose from natural systems ideas.
Natural systems are at their best when knowledge and skills of members can be applied to the creation and maintenance of systems responsive to and responsible for their members and surrounding social system. However, when individuals turn inwardly and exert more effort pursuing their own interests rather than adapting the system to changing conditions, natural systems begin to falter.
Open systems concepts arose from the work of biologist Ludwig Von Bertalanffy who characterized open systems as complex, mutually affecting units (Bertalanffy, 1972). A full understanding of high-level complex open systems is still beyond our ability. At their most basic, however, open systems operate as ’closely coupled’ cybernetic systems like a thermostat programmed to respond to certain inputs from its environment. Scott and Davis (2007) indicate that fairly simple cybernetic systems typify virtually all of our current efforts to imagine and produce open systems. This is because we simply don’t know all of the factors and interrelations which might affect an organization within a social system. Even our most ’open’ open systems models are cybernetic based on limited knowledge rather than knowledge and understanding of the entire ecology. Cybernetic systems can produce problems when factors unaccounted for begin to affect other subsystems and their members.
Additionally, realization of complex open systems is limited by inertia of an orientation to economically-bounded ideas which rest on rational and natural systems concepts. Attempts to control the environment using only rational and natural systems ideas are often problematic within complex open systems, which are typified by overall adaptation rather than control by one set of interests.
It is important that HPT practitioners be aware of the types of systems they may encounter when using a systems view during their work. While each of these types has its strengths and weaknesses, none is universally best. A systems view appropriately includes all three and HPT practitioners should help organizations become less like only one of these three types and instead more like a pragmatic blend. Core processes on which an organization relies may be similar to the rational system type. Natural systems can be refined to buffer these core processes from drastic changes from the outside, while at the same time involving ongoing efforts to adapt those rational systems to cope with changing needs. Open-system concepts would be useful in guiding strategic and outward looking elements of a subsystem or an entire organization while at the same time providing information to the natural systems that exist within the organization.
Adams, B.N., & Sydie, R.A. (2002). Evolution and Functionalism: Spencer and Summer. In Contemporary Sociological Theory (pp. 59-89). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
Bertalanffy, L. (1972). Relevance of General Systems Theory: Papers Presented to Ludwig von Bertalanffy on his Seventieth Birthday. New York: G. Braziller.
Chyung, S.Y. (2005). Human performance technology: From Taylor’s scientific management to Gilbert’s behavior engineering model. Performance Improvement, 44(1), 23-28.
Hoskin, K., & Macve, R. (1994). Writing, Examining, Disciplining: The Genesis of Accounting’s Modern Power. In A. Hopwood & P. Miller (Eds.), Accounting as Social and Institutional Practice (pp. 67-97). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scott, W.R., & Davis, G. (2007). Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open System Perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Taylor, F. (1972). Testimony Before the Special House Committee. In Scientific Management: Comprising Shop Management, The Principles of Scientific Management, Testimony Before the Special House Committee (pp. 5-287). Westport: CT: Greenwood Press, Publishers.
Don Winiecki is a professor in the Instructional & Performance Technology department at Boise State University. Don teaches courses in Needs Assessment and Ethnographic Research in Organizations. He holds a doctor of education degree in Instructional Technology and a doctor of philosophy degree in Sociology. Don may be reached at email@example.com.
I want to introduce you to a unique group of CPTs whose work centers around emergency management, disaster preparation, and business continuity. This group makes up the EM team that meets virtually the first Monday of the month. Among the group are academic researchers, independent consultants, Director of Disaster Service for the Red Cross, a fire marshal, and a member of the United States Coast Guard. They set goals for the year, one of which is to deliver a webinar for the Emergency Management Forum on how to increase results from your training and exercise investment. The group is also working on presentation and article templates they can use when they deliver presentations or write articles and want to stress the value of Human Performance Technology.
Dale Brandenburg, CPT, PhD, is a Senior Associate at the Institute for Learning & Performance Improvement at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Dale specializes in needs assessment, evaluation, and the impacts of technology deployment on work organization. He has more than 25 years of experience in training and workforce development in corporate, non-profit and educational settings. Dale has more than 50 publications and professional presentations in the human performance and training areas, especially training evaluation and organizational learning. For the past five years, he has been performing research in the area of disaster preparation and response and as part of multi-disciplinary research team has examined the issue of cross-organizational coordination. Dale recently completed two studies, one funded by the National Science Foundation devoted to analyses of cross-organizational responses to bioterrorism (Engineering the Unexpected) and the second funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (Understanding the Lessons Learned Process in Food Defense Training and Exercises). His current work extends the examination of the lessons learned process (transfer of learning) to understanding the food recall process. In addition to his CPT, he received his BS in mathematics and his MA in behavioral psychology, both from Michigan State University, and his PhD in educational measurement and statistics from the University of Iowa. Dale may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dale Currier, CPT, CEM, SPHR recently assumed a new position as Manager of Emergency Preparedness and Continuity of Operations (COOP) at Syracuse University. His role will be to oversee and further build the overall emergency management activities for the university—in the US and abroad. This will entail plan development, exercise program and training development, and management/operation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Another critical responsibility will be working with all university departments on developing and/or revising and updating COOP plans. Prior to joining Syracuse University, Dale served as the Deputy Section Chief - Training and Exercise Section - for the New York State Emergency Management Office. He was involved in all programmatic aspects of the design, development, execution and evaluation of training and exercises. This included locally developed training and exercises as well as working with FEMA to bring their programs to NYS.
Early academic studies included business administration, forestry, and criminal justice which have all been synthesized into working in the emergency management field. Over time Dale realized that his prime areas of work focused on training and management of emergency incidents and planning for large public events. This resulted in his returning to graduate school to study Educational Communications and then Instructional Design and Development, at Syracuse University, with additional study on organizational behavior and management. Like many others currently in the EM field, Dale’s entry was really by accident and based on vocational activities as there was no Emergency Management field of practice or profession, per se. Dale may be reached at email@example.com.
RolandIsnor, CPT, is with the United States Coast Guard. He is a new member to the EM team, but not a new player in EM as the Coast Guard is a “first responder” to emergencies whether they are the result of a natural disaster, human error, or terrorism. He and others in the Coast Guard have to be proficient in the practices developed by the USCG and other organizations. Roland is also known for his ability to mentor others in HPT and received the Swaringen Award for outstanding mentorship in Human Performance Technology in 2008. The rest of the team welcomes Roland and looks forward to learning from his experience. He may be reached at Roland.firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean Larson, CPT, PhD, is using his performance improvement skills in the development and maintenance of standards for emergency management and business continuity. He has been an active member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Emergency Management and Business Continuity since its inception. He is one of the authors of NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs which was endorsed as the “National Preparedness Standard” in the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Currently, the Technical Committee is working on the 2010 Edition of NFPA 1600. NFPA has made this standard available as free download: www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/nfpa1600.pdf.
Dean serves as Head of Delegation and Chair of the US Technical Advisory Group to the ISO Technical Committee on Societal Security. The primary document being developed is entitled “Societal Security: Incident Preparedness and Continuity Management.” The intent of this standard processis providing guidance for designing, developing, and implementing programs to prevent incidents and respond to and recover from those events that cannot be prevented or stopped while ensuring continuity within private and public organizations. Dean’s involvement in these committees has led to speaking to audiences in China and Argentina about the importance of these standards for emergency management and business continuity. He has used NFPA 1600 as text material since 1999 in undergraduate Emergency Management and graduate Homeland Security courses for Purdue University Calumet. Dean may be reached at email@example.com.
Chris Saeger, CPT, has been helping people and organizations reach their goals through learning for more than 20 years. Currently, he is the Director of Performance Improvement for Disaster Services at the American Red Cross. His team uses systematic methods including, procedures, job aids, training, and simulations, to help the volunteer and paid staff at the American Red Cross build and practice disaster management skills. He is also on the advisory board for the Emergency Management program at Jacksonville State University and the Emergency Management Forum, a source for distance education in emergency management.
Chris has won awards from ASTD, Lakewood Publications, and ISPI Potomac Chapter. He has presented at ISPI, The North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA), and other conferences. He is a past chair of NASAGA and past officer with the ISPI Potomac Chapter in Washington, DC. His work has been published in the ASTD Organization Development & Leadership Sourcebook; The International Emergency Management and Engineering Society Proceedings; and Contingency Planning and Management magazine. Chris may be reached at SaegerC@usa.redcross.org.
Kevin Wilson, CPT, MEd has used his drive and intelligence to go from outstanding firefighter to respected captain to his present professional position: a progressive, visionary division chief who helps ensure the safety of the citizens of the Poudre Fire Authority, encompassing 235 square miles in Northern Colorado, including Fort Collins, Timnath, and La Porte. Kevin is the fire marshal for Poudre Fire Authority, where he supervises a Fire Prevention Bureau staff of 10. His division oversees construction of fire-safe buildings in a 235-square-mile fire district, maintenance of fire-protection systems and investigation of fires when they occur. Kevin is known for his use of technology, being among the first fire prevention bureau’s in the country to offer the convenience of the internet to better serve customers.
Kevin currently is board chair of the Northern Colorado Fire Marshal’s Association, which he founded in 2002. He has served for the past 15 years as the only external member of the Colorado State University Safety Committee and Housing Safety Committee, being appointed by the university president. Known nationally, Kevin is also a voting member of the National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council and International Fire Marshal’s Association.
Realizing the importance of education, Kevin received his Masters of Education in Human Resource Development/Organization Development from Colorado State University (CSU), and also received his Bachelors of Science in Adult Education from CSU. Kevin is a regular guest speaker for the Interior Design College at CSU, teaching Fire Code and Interior Design for Occupant Fire Safety and Exiting. He is on the board of the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS) and an associate member of the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems. Kevin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opening Session: You’ve Arrived for THE Performance Improvement Conference in San Francisc
by Anne Apking, CPT, 2010 Conference Committee
December 18, 2009. Whoa, a savings of $250! That doesn’t happen every day. You just registered for THE Performance Improvement Conference 2010, and you were able to secure your spot for just $750 as an ISPI member and $1000 for non-members!
Hmmm...with savings like that, you just might have to plan a little extra excursion while you’re in sunny California. Maybe a wine country tour of Napa Valley, for both the remarkable views and the extraordinary wines. Or how about a bike tour to really get a feel for the cityÉfrom Sausalito to the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond. Or maybe get back in touch with nature on Mt. Tamalpais where the locals hike.
With so many great options, it’s all good. Just as long as you return to the Marriott Marquis in time for the Opening Session. You’ve been hearing that this year’s Opening Session is really going to be an event to remember. You’re not quite sure what ISPI has cooked up, but you know you don’t want to miss it!
Second Annual HPT Practitioner
Video Podcast Contest—Last Chance to Enter!
The goal of ISPI’s Video Podcast Contest, spearheaded by Guy Wallace, is to showcase the diversity of human performance technology (HPT) situations and applications and practitioners. The dual focus this year is on HPT elevator speeches and everyone’s current or next focus for learning more about the diversity of human performance technology.
This year’s five-point script is:
Name/Home location: _________
First exposure to HPT was: _______ when: ________
My biggest influences have been (people, books, articles, etc.): ____
Your 30-second elevator speech on “HPT” or “What I do”: ________
Your current or next focus for learning more about HPT is on: ______
You can interview your subject—or have your subject speak directly into the camera.
Joe Harless has again agreed to be one of the first for this year’s efforts!
The Board of Directors will vote for the one winning podcast that meets the goals and rules of the contest. Up to two prizes will be awarded to the “best” submission’s subject and video producer—if they are different people. The prize is either a free annual ISPI membership or a copy of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology.
Our 2008 HPT Podcast Contest winners include Margo Murray and the team of Mari Novak and Steven Kelly.
Why not get started? Take your three- to five-minute video—edit and add a title slide at the beginning and a credit slide at the end to identify the subject, the producer, and both the date and location where the video was taken—and then post it online at YouTube or Google Video, etc. Then post/embed your Video at HPT Connections —where you can find the 2008 submissions, the rules for 2009, and guidelines and tips to walk you through the submission/posting/embedding process.
You do not have to be a member of ISPI—at either the international or chapter levels—but you do need to be a registered member of HPT Connections. It is free to post your submission. Once registered, check it out and then share with your fellow HPT practitioners!
This year’s contest will officially end December 31, 2009.
Are You Recognized for Your Work?
Submit it to ISPI!
You do excellent work every day with great results. Submit your accomplishments and research to one of ISPI’s prestigious journals and get the recognition you deserve, and share your findings and ideas with your peers.
Performance Improvement (PI) journal publishes articles about all types of interventions and all phases of the Human Performance Technology (HPT) process, as well as hands-on HPT experiences, including:
Ready-to-use job aids
PI also publishes updates on trends, reviews, and field viewpoints. The common theme of articles is performance improvement practice or technique that is supported by research or germane theory.
To submit an article, download and read the Author Guidelines, then email your article as an attachment to the editor, Holly Burkett, at email@example.com. PI is a benefit of ISPI membership, but if you are not a member you can still subscribe. If you are interested in joining ISPI, please click here.
Performance Improvement Quarterly (PIQ) is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research, theory, and literature reviews relevant to improving the performance of individuals, groups, and organizations. As a scholarly forum for the HPT field, the journal seeks to integrate and expand the methods, processes, and findings across multiple disciplines as they relate to solving problems and realizing opportunities in human performance. HPT work focuses on valued, measured results; considers the larger system context of people’s performance; and provides valid and reliable measures of effectiveness. The journal values both methodological rigor and variety, and publishes scholarship related to:
Organizational design and alignment
Analysis, evaluation, and measurement
Management of organizational performance
To submit an article, download and read the Author Guidelines, then email your article as an attachment to the ISPI Publications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. A subscription to PIQ costs only $45 for ISPI members, so be sure to take advantage of this valuable resource. If you are not a member, but interested in joining ISPI, please click here.
As you know from reading this online newsletter every month, PerformanceXpress (PX) publishes exciting feature articles highlighting current developments and ideas in the field of performance improvement, as well as regular columns written by dedicated professionals spotting trends, Tales from the Field, and CPT News from Around the World. And, that is just the beginning. What contributions and ideas do you have to add to PX? “I wish I had thought of that” articles, practical application articles, articles about the application of HPT, or success stories? Read the Newsletter Submission Guidelines and send us your work to email@example.com.
International Society for Performance Improvement’sCareer Center will
revolutionize how you search for jobs and source candidates! Our job board,
powered by career services leader JobTarget, makes it easier than ever for ISPI
members to enhance their careers and stay connected within the performance
improvement community. Below you
will find the most recent job postings added to ISPI’s
Marketplaceis 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 our marketing department at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Books Online Performance Improvement Bookstore. ISPI and John Wiley & Sons have partnered to offer professionals in the field the best selection of performance improvement resources. ISPI members save 15% on all book purchases (professional and personal)!
ISPI @ Amazon. ISPI has created a one-stop shop for all your performance improvement needs. Here we have boks written by ISPI members, CPTs, E-Documents, and featured books of the month. All purchases over $25 are eligible for free shipping.
Career Resources ISPI Online Career Center is your source for performance improvement employment. Search listings and manage your resume and job applications online.
Newsletters, and Journals Performance Improvement journal is available to subscribers in print and online through John
Wiley & Sons, Inc. Order your subscription today.
Improvement Quarterly 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. Discounted to ISPI members.
Learn the Principles & Practices of Performance Improvement Institute, April 17-19, 2010, in San Francisco, CA. Speak performance improvement language everyone else is. Register Today!
Get Certified with ISPI at the CPT Certification Workshop, April 18-19, 2010, in San Francisco, CA. Take the first step in separating yourself from the competition. Register Today!
Earn your graduate Certificate with Ithaca’s Professional Certificate Program. Certificate programs include: Performance Evaluation and Measurement, Performance Improvement Management, and Leading Networked Organizations and Virtual Teams. Sign up 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.
Newsletter Submission Guidelines
ISPI is looking for Human Performance Technology
(HPT) articles (approximately 500–700 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
In addition to the article, please include a short bio
(2–3 lines) and a contact email address. All submissions should be sent
to email@example.com. Each article will
be reviewed by one of ISPIs on-staff HPT experts, and the author
will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any
further questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
free to forward ISPIs PerformanceXpress newsletter to your
colleagues or anyone you think may benefit from the information. If you
are reading someone elses PerformanceXpress, send your complete
contact information to email@example.com,
and you will be added to the PerformanceXpress email list.
an ISPI member benefit designed to build community, stimulate discussion,
and keep you informed of the Societys activities and events.
This newsletter is published monthly and will be emailed to you at
the beginning of each month.
you have any questions or comments, please contact John Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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