Which Resonates More At First Blush – The BEM or the BMCI?

The BEM is Gilbert’s rather famous Behavior Engineering Model – see page 88 of his 1978 book: Human Competence. The BMCI (an acronym I think I just made up) is also his, on the prior page and stands for: Behavior Model for Creating Incompetence.

And perhaps because he did so in his book, I have tended for decades to first show the new-to-be-initiated the latter before the former.


Or – I showed them how Incompetence is created/engineered (inadvertently I hope) by management.

Here – below – is a photo of me in my office circa: 1997-2002. Note the 2 big framed graphics on the wall at the top of the photo – a birthday present to me from former staffer Nikki Rhinderer.

Go here for a page by page review of Human Competence – and check out page 87 and then page 88. Then buy the classic if you don’t have it on your bookshelf already – here.


If you are really familiar with the BEM – then you might note without being able to actually read it in my photo – that the BEM is on the right – leaving the BMCI on the left – in our western tradition of left-to-right – which doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for the entire world.

I found that heads nodded up and down more frequently when that model – the BMCI – preceded the BEM. It was a set up of course. People can more readily buy into that nonsense  – of how to create incompetence – more readily than they could the BEM model – due to its language as Carl Binder might suggest. Perhaps that’s why Tom put it in his book in that order as well. But I am just speculating.

The BEM model, and his book, takes real work to slough through. At least it did for me – it took me three attempts to get through his book back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was easier to see and hear him at NSPI (now ISPI) I found.

The graphic on that electronic white board? That’s a Lesson Map – with the Info – Demo – Appo sequence being worked out by me and a client (off screen). One of the many templates I use in Instructional Design. But that’s another Blog Post.

I no longer have those two framed graphics – they got water damaged at some point in a move. I am now thinking about recreating them.

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