On A Day Celebrating Labor in the USA – A Reminder About Gilbert’s Leisurely Theorems

In 1978, Thomas Gilbert published his book: Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance

In that he described the Behavior Engineering Model (BEM) for performance analysis. He also (the page prior) had his model for Creating Performance Incompetence – which I have written about before as a great set-up/intro to the BEM. Read about that here.

Back to the BEM and Gilbert’s model – which consists of three Leisurely Theorems that:

  • Distinguish between accomplishment and behavior to define “worthy performance”
  • Identifies methods for determining the “potential for improving performance (the PIP)”
  • Describe six essential components of behavior that can be manipulated to effect performance  – which is the 6 Boxes that Carl Binder refers to. And others.
My take on this is that I really like all versions of the BEM – especially the model that proceeds it in Human Competence – with the exception that there is little focus on the Process or Processes that human are competent or incompetent in.

My approach – EPPI – combines the BEM – and a process orientation – and actually starts with a Process orientation within the Context of the organization (or Enterprise). I’ve written about that a lot here – so look those posts using EPPI if you are so interested.

What I learned years ago (decades ago to be truthful) from Gilbert and Rummler and Mager and Harless – and dozens if not hundreds of others – is to focus on Performance (Accomplishments in Gilbert’s terms). Not on behaviors – which are indeed important – if secondary – or maybe tertiary.

If you follow the work of the late W. Edwards Deming – he attributed 94% of performance problems (my wording here) are due to the system and not to the individual (6%) – and that management was responsible for the system. So: quit blaming the people! Look at and fix the System – the Process – and all that enables it – or not.

Rummler said/wrote it seemed to be an 80/20 split. Other have other numbers – and no one has empirical evidence – to back up their numbers – and most said so about that fact too.

So, on this Day celebrating Labor – let’s learn to stop blaming them and fixing them – with Training or Mobile Performance Support – or Stationary Performance Support.

Let’s focus elsewhere to start. Let’s do the due diligence of Analysis without Paralysis – to seek the root causes – establish baseline measurements – and be good stewards of the Shareholders’ equity – and move the needles of Measured Results and ROI and not just Costs as we seek to make improvements.

And for those celebrating Labor Day in the USA (and anywhere) – I hope you find some time today for some Leisure!

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