Avoiding the The Cult of Behavior

Join the Cult of Behavior or the Cult of Accomplishments

The other day – earlier this week – I took the Tin Can API effort to task for its focus (per some of its marketing/communications) on Recording and Tracking and Reporting ACTIVITIES versus RESULTS – in this post: Kicking the Tin Can.

And while it – Tin Can – does have the potential to track Results/ Accomplishments/ Demonstrated Competence – my guess is that it will track mostly the Means rather than the Ends, with no guarantee that those Means mean anything of real value – such as my demonstrated ability to Perform Tasks to Produce Outputs to Stakeholder Requirements.

So with this SCORM replacement/upgrade, I can now claim – and record for tracking and reporting purposes – that I engaged in some Social Learning about Strategic Misdirection of the Competition.

The fact it happened at an actual water cooler where we discussed MNF and I learned about Strategic Misdirection of the Competition – throwing the other side off by looking more often in the direction that I wasn’t going to throw the ball, to throw off the defenders, and then throwing it to my chosen receiver –  and that that doesn’t mean that I will be able to do that successfully – may never be understood. But, as they say, it will look good on your resume.

Thomas F. Gilbert (1996) cautioned HRD professionals to avoid focusing on behavior rather than performance. He calls this common problem the “cult of behavior“….

George Odiorne called it “the activity trap” in his book: Management and the Activity Trap (1973).

Search on “cult of behavior” and you will see what I mean.

Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance (ISPI Tribute Edition)

From Amazon.com:
Human Competence offers an original theory of engineering human performance, coupled with a detailed plan of action based on provided applications. Grounded on remarkable principles, sound applications, and educational practice, this classic book:

  • explains how to identify people who have the potential to be exemplary performers.
  • details various economic models for reducing expenses, increasing productivity, and improving learning, with special worksheets that help put these models to work.
  • shows how to diagnose causes of performance failure and how to tailor the best remedies to each problem.
  • describes a general procedure for measuring any performance and for translating these measures into economic opportunity.
  • shows how to design training and educational systems that bring the best results.

Some of Us Are Thinking Along the Same Lines

In looking for quotes online for words of wisdom from Gilbert, I came across a 2-part post by Chris Adams, Learning Technology Consultant at Handshaw, Inc. – one of my compatriots in the ISPI Charlotte Chapter.

Chris is currently President-Elect of the chapter, co-founded by me and Chris’ boss, Dick Handshaw, in 2009.

Here is Chris’ Part 1 and Part 2.

Measured Results – Start with Baseline Results

I really believe that we should be be tracking and reporting more meaningful data than the means – we should be tracking the ends.

From an old Post of mine:

In Thomas F. Gilbert’s book “Human Competence” (page 45) – he lists his “Measures of Worthy Performance” – Accomplishments – this way:

1. Quality

(a) Accuracy

(b) Class

(c) Novelty

2. Quantity (or Productivity)

(a) Rate

(b) Timeliness

(c) Volume

3. Cost

(a) Labor (behavior repertories)

(b) Material (environmental supports)

(c) Management

See his definitions – page 45- 47. I’ve always like these. But I changed the wording to match what my clients’ used – or to language that they could relate to.

Adopt what you can – and adapt the rest.

Use what measures and labels for them that makes sense in your Context.

As discussed in the dialogue with the Cat,  Alice asked (you remember Alice):

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)

The Proven Ability to Do

That’s what’s important.

It’s not about Learning – it’s about Performance Competence.

Even for a Learning Organization.

Here are some of my books that address all of this.

Let me start with a book – available as a free PDF and as a low cost paperback…

And how to turn your L&D organization from one focused on Learning Content to Performance Impacting Content – my book 6 pack…

But Wait – There’s More

And Video Podcasts.

And free Articles, Presentations, Newsletter articles, and Blog Postings, etc., may be found under the Resources Tab at this web site.

Begin with the Ends in Mind

Focus on the Ends in Mind.

Enable those Ends in Mind.

Yes, the Means to those Ends are sometimes very important, and at other times, not so much.

Figure that out.

Good Stewards of Shareholder Equity would do so.

To Be Continued

On Monday – I’ll continue – with an Example of focusing on tracking Accomplishments versus Behaviors, from my previous firm, CADDI, where I was the majority owner (1997-2002).

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2 comments on “Avoiding the The Cult of Behavior

  1. Pingback: T&D: A Qualification Test From 1995 – On That New Thing: Email | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: Walkin’ the Talkin’ – The Cult of Accomplishments vs. The Cult of Behaviors | EPPIC – Pursuing Performance

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