Ripples and Waves of the Gurus and Grifters

On My Shoreline…
Waiting and Watching the Affects of the Ripples and Waves of the Gurus and Grifters

How to separate the wheat from the chaff…when there is so much BUZZ and MARKETING and SPIN in the worlds of Training – Learning – Education – Performance Improvement?

How to separate the deserving GURUs and the selfserving GRIFTERs?

I look for confirmation and validation regarding “the LATEST STUFF” being written about in publications and postings and spoken of at the conferences and client organizations. I look for confirmation and validation among a select few of the people within my profession of Training – Learning – Education – Performance Improvement.

There are many people tossing pebbles and boulders of thought and fact into the waters that reach my personal shorelines as ripples and waves and tsunamis. And I am sure many of you feel the same.

And I am sure that you have your own personal approach to validation of NEW STUFF.

My approach is to use the contacts I have made at ISPI – International Society of Performance Improvement. I read what they’ve written, listened to them and asked questions during or after their presentations at conferences.

Or, I’ve looked up their email address in the ISPI Directory and asked them DIRECTLY.

And on my list are a few people who aren’t involved in ISPI and I’ve found via other means.

On our personal shorelines, at the boundaries of what we already believe and know and what we don’t…are the ripples, waves and tsunamis that affects us…change us temporarily or permanently. For better or for worse.

Not all pebbles and rocks that hit the waters hit our shorelines pure. Many are cross-ripples, cross-waves…from multiple sources.

I can’t and don’t always know whom to credit for “original thought” and original contributions to my own conscious and non-conscious thinking. Perhaps that is true for you as well.

I am a practitioner. I incorporate what I hear about and believe into plans and activities in real-world projects for my external clients. And I do that incorporation carefully. Not just because it sounds good. Or it just makes sense. Although it must clear those two hurdles. It must also be confirmed and not be in conflict with “what I believe I know.”

I need to also know and remember that I could be wrong!

My “List of Gurus w/o Grifters”
I look for original stuff and insights from one of these ISPI people and a handful of others, and then validation/acceptance from most of the others. And then “I decide” what to incorporate based on the risk/reward perceptions of myself and the client.

In alpha order…a partial list and with an admittedly short list of “partial credits” for each of my personal professional gurus going back to the late 1970s…

Dale Brethower: Human Performance System,
John Carlisle: Win-Win Negotiations, persuasion,
Richard E. Clark: No Impact of Media in ISD (it’s Design!), Motivational factors,
Ruth Clark: ISD design based on research
the late W. Edwards Deming: the use of statistical quality control, management control of 80% of the root causes- not the workers,
the late Tom Gilbert: PIP- Performance Improvement Potential, Behavior Engineering Model,
Geary Rummler: performance analysis and perspectives at the individual, process and organization levels, the total performance environment that the organization performs within,
Judy Hale: certification, evaluation, implementation,
Joe Harless: Analysis, working with the customer,
the late Kaoru Ishikawa: Ishikawa Diagram,
Joseph Juran: Pareto Principle, TQM how to’s, managing for quality,
Roger Kaufman: Society as a stakeholder, Wants vs. Needs, strategy,
Bob Mager: Objectives, Goal Analysis, Motivation as a Potential Cause,
Margo Murray: Mentoring, Coaching,
Bob Pike: Presentation techniques, use of graphics and color,
Neil Rackham: 10 instructional design criteria, behavior modeling & training,
Harold D. Stolovitch: Instructional Design concepts, strategies and techniques
Ray Svenson: Strategic Planning, Governance & Advisory,

Please be on notice: I intend to “continuously” add to and edit/improve this particular posting.

So please check back once-in-a-while for the new stuff added to, edited changes to this posting.

And via comments help me compile a list from others:
Who is on your list for what “Areas of Insight & Practice” that you can volunteer?

Here is an example from ISPI and “my guru” Dale Brethower from July 2004:

A closer look at the history of fads will quickly show significant evolutionary relationships. This is why Dale can predict specifically what we can expect.

Take the teaching machines… That technology begat computer-assisted instruction (CAI), computer-based training (CBT), and today’s e-learning.

These fads all promised solutions to a real need: efficient, economical, flexible, on-demand widely disseminated instructional delivery. Each iteration moved us forward and each has fallen, or will likely fall, victim to a marketplace polluted with poor imitations that will propel us forward to the next related fad.

Potential future fads that are already with us may include instructional objects, Internet learning, incentive and recognition systems, and 360° feedback.

When a performance innovation is not based on fundamental principles of human learning, motivation, and performance, or connected to business needs, it will become a fad and pass into history.

Timely delivery of instruction has been of great interest to both HPT practitioners and our clients for some time. As the speed of commerce continues to increase and the Internet extends its reach, workers will require accessible, current skills and knowledge directly related to their tasks and responsibilities.

Many organizations have tackled this problem with mixed results, largely because they neglected to consider the whole organizational system when they developed and implemented their solutions. As we in HPT know, any intervention made in one organizational sector will affect others and should be addressed in the initial planning.


For more on ISPI go to:

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