‘Bama, the Bear, and the Gilberts

Updated in March 2012

Colleague John Swinney sent me a copy of this a couple of days ago and I thought I’d search it out on the web so that I might share it with you.

The Science of Winning – Tom and Marilyn Gilbert” – was first published in Training Magazine in August 1988.

It is about leadership/management at ‘Bama as practiced by legendary Coach Paul Bear Bryant, one of his players Joe Harless, and both Tom and Marilyn Gilbert. The Gilberts knew Bear Bryant when Tom was a professor at Alabama. The article is offered on the Vancouver ISPI Chapter site as a PDF.

Here is a teaser…

While we were Bear-watching, Joe Harless, now a respected figure in the training business, was a student at Alabama – an A+ psychology student of ours and a fourth-string guard for Bryant.

Harless wanted very much to play on the first string, but life is not so kind; Billy Bob, the first-string right guard, was an All-American. So Harless aimed for second string.

As he played for Bryant, Harless tried to observe him too. And he finally got to see the great man for a full 30 seconds. Bryant didn’t really spend a lot of time Hawthorning around with his good ol’ boys, but one day an assistant coach appeared and hollered, “Harless! Coach wants to see you. On the double!”

As Harless tells it, he felt then that the right hand of God had reached out to touch him.

Now go get the article yourself!

The legend…Coach Bear Bryant…

Joe Harless…years after he played football for the Bear…from an old NSPI (now ISPI) P&I Journal…

Marilyn B. Gilbert…

The late Thomas F. Gilbert…

Final Notes:

Joe Harless is retired now and doesn’t attend ISPI conferences any more. But he did attend the 2004 conference in Tampa to pay his respects at a memorial service for his Alabama fraternity brother, Claude (Butch) Lineberry (who passed away on December 2, 2003).

That happened to be my year as ISPI President and “my” conference. In memory of Claude I had made up 25 buttons with Claude’s picture (after asking Claude’s business partner, Bob Carlton, to check with the family first about their feelings about such buttons) for the Memorial Service we were planning to hold at the conference.

Joe thanked me for doing the buttons for his friend and colleague. We bumped into each other at the Tampa airport bar the next morning and shared a couple of Bloody Mary’s (on him!) and he regaled me with a few more “Butch tales” – the staple at the Memorial Service.

I miss Joe. And I miss Butch.

NSPI and ISPI, as any other great affinity group, has brought much to my life. Formally and Informally. This year I am learning informally as I serve for my second year on ISPI’s The Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award committee. For more on that honorary award – go to the ISPI web site

Here is some info on the award:

Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award
Purpose: To recognize outstanding and significant contributions to the knowledge base of human performance technology.

Qualifying Criteria (for candidate to be considered)
10+ consecutive years as a contributor to the field of human performance technology
Recognized by professional organizations related to HPT such as ISPI, ASTD, etc.
Regular presenter at conferences such as ISPI or other related HPT organizations
Has not served on the Board for at least three years prior to the date of presentation of award

Distinguishing Criteria (for selection of candidates under consideration)
Has made significant contributions to the knowledge base of human performance technology
Has made contributions to the definition/communication/demonstration of HPT
Has mentored other HPT practitioners
Has the respect of his/her peers in the technology
Has published in journals/books/media to communicate achievements/findings in HPT
Has promoted HPT through presentation to other professional groups

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