My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Ray Svenson

MFFGaM Series 2013-07

This month we start the First Friday of August 2013 with another of my favorite gurus…

Ray Svenson

I met Raynold A. Svenson, when I was employed by and he was consulting with Motorola’s Training & Education Center – MTEC in early 1981. Ray was assisting Bill Wiggenhorn in the conduct of what I came to see as a collaborative, thorough but quick, strategic planning system, that was kept refreshed by a routine system of stakeholder engagement and communications – via executive (client) oversight – in a governance structure.

The Governance structure kept MTEC aligned to the client and their current CBIs (Critical Business Issues) via project reviews/statusing, review/approval of new project proposals and funding requests. Looking both at short term needs and eventual long term needs of its own client base kept MTEC aligned, even in a volatile business, which made it even more important to do so.

Very cool.

Bill acknowledged Ray’s work with MTEC, at a tribute to the late Geary A. Rummler, who was also an MTEC contemporary of Bill’s, Ray’s and mine. That short acknowledgement is in this long tribute video – here.


I left MTEC in the fall of 1982 and joined Ray and my wife (at the time) Karen, who had already been working there for 10 months, in Ray’s firm: R. A. Svenson & Associates – which we abbreviated to RAS, which could also refer directly to Ray. It was contextual.  I was/am: GWW. Anyway…

From Ray’s Web Site:

Ray is a recognized leader in Business-driven Learning and Development Strategy for major corporations. He has 28 years of experience in this field, combining deep consulting skills with a broad strategic perspective and a systems approach. This leads to architecting Learning and Development Systems that align with business strategy and are simple to understand and implement for people at all levels. Ray orchestrates teams of seasoned consultants as needed to support specific projects. His award-winning book, The Training and Development Strategic Plan Workbook, is a well-worn desk reference used by Learning and Development leaders in major corporations.


Here is Ray along with my MTEC colleagues, Darlene Gerster and Andrea Moore, at my surprise 30th birthday party at Barbara Warbritton’s way back in August 1982, a couple of months before I left MTEC to join Ray’s firm.

One Many Things I Learned From Ray Svenson

Project Planning.

Be goal oriented. Be clear about the outputs (as inputs downstream).

Be systems thinking oriented and organized in both the overall approach and at the detailed level. Be flexible in an engineered engagement process, if it doesn’t negatively affect the product.

Be engaging. But engage the right people at the right time, with the right questions and openness and consultative skills to get to the root of a client’s situation and real need, in a politically sensitive manner.

Pretty tricky as many of you might know from experience.

My own version of what is in a Plan’s narrative section (using Word) and its schedule section (that is done in Excel nowadays) originated in what Ray was already doing at RAS in our Project Plans & Proposals in 1982.

Ray is both a conceptual/strategic thinker as well as a practical/tactical thinker. He is an engineer. He applies all of that professional knowledge and thinking to the human systems in place, to achieve improvements in the internal enterprise systems and processes that affect the human variable in enterprise processes.

This is Ray doing a video interview/ recording, in my HPT Practitioners and Legacy Video Podcast Series. That video, one of two, follows below.


What I Also Learned From Ray Svenson

Are many, many practical, tactical, and strategic processes.
I observed, learned from, got to question, got to apply his tactical data gathering and processing methods, in many client engagements, from developing the big picture approach and then the task details, details always mindful of the end goals, measures, etc. Ray was also good at tweaking prevailing models, adapting them for the situation at hand, engaging the client stakeholders in meaningful ways to identify and address their concerns and needs.
In 1984 we were co-authors of this first publication – on what might today be known as a Learning Path, and was our process for producing such via what we called Curriculum Architecture Design.
It was/is: Performance-based, too. Using a Group-Process.
 1984 Training Magazine September - Curr Arch_Page_2
That was in Training, September 1984. For that article – please go here.
Then 2 months later we were published in ISPI Performance Journal article our then, 1984 version, of Performance Analysis and Knowledge/Skill Analysis.  For that article – please go here.

Some Great Resources From Ray For You

Books – Ray has several books out – some via Amazon – see more about his first book:

The Training and Development Strategic Plan Workbook – here.

This is a classic – from 1992 – out of print – but you could get your used copy from the used book marketplace – I know many who have successfully taken my advice on this.


The Training & Development Strategic Plan Workbook. Raynold A. Svenson and Monica J. Rinderer, Prentice Hall, 1992 (Winner of ISPI International Award)

And this book from 1994…also out of print…

1994 QRM Book Cover

The Quality Roadmap: How to Get Your Company on the Quality Track and Keep It There. Ray Svenson, Karen Wallace, and Guy W. Wallace, AMACOM and Quality Resources, 1994

2008 PB EQCS Book Cover

performance-based Employee Qualification/Certification Systems. Ray Svenson and Guy W. Wallace. The Svenson & Wallace Press, 2008. Available as a PDF download (3.73 MB)

Articles – Many of Ray’s articles may be downloaded from his web site – here.

See the listing below…from his web site…

Ray has published numerous articles in national journals, some of which are available on this Web site in PDF format. If you do not have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here to take you to Adobe’s Web site to download the program for free.



Ray has presented at numerous international conferences throughout his career. We will add more presentations as they become available.

ISPI Task Force

Ray facilitated a blue-ribbon ISPI task force working to clarify Human Performance Technology. Click here for the presentation.

If you are interested in viewing the full report, it is available on the ISPI Web site (go, scroll down the page, then click on the link to take you to the “Presidential Initiative Task Force to Clarify the HPT Value Proposition”).

 2008 Video

length: 6 minutes – recorded at the ISPI Conference in 2008.

2009 Video

length: 17 minutes – recorded at the ISPI Conference in 2009.

Listen to his story about his consulting engagement and the client’s perception/calculation of ROI years after the fact.

My Favorite Memories of Ray

Include the social aspects many of the outings with did at RAS and then SWI (Svenson &Wallace Inc). Those included bike riding in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, float plane trips in Alaska, train ride from Anchorage to Seward, and in the evenings with our consultant and contractor teams on engagements all across the USA.

Ray, a native of Chicago’s far west suburbs, spent time after college living and working in NJ, downtown NYC, the suburbs of Chicago, south-west Michigan/north-east Indiana, south-east Wisconsin, and he now lives out in the west, in Montana with his wife Pat.

He still actively consults with clients and serves his professional society – ISPI. This past ISPI Conference he was asked to facilitate the ISPI Advocates group’s annual meeting.

His web site is – here.

And Ray’s LinkedIn page is – here.

Share Your Stories

If Ray Svenson has been a valuable influence and/or resource for you – please share your stories about that in the comments section below.

Or share a URL that is relevant.

And – thank you – for sharing!

My Favorite Guru Series

We each have many influencers, mentors, both active and passive, knowingly and unknowingly in their respective roles. This series is my attempt to acknowledge all of them, as I reflect on what I have have learned about Performance Improvement.

Just please give me some time to get through them all. It’s a long list. Lucky me.

Next month – Roger Addison. And Roger Kaufman after that.

My Guru Series so far …

  • Dick (Richard E.) Clark – July 2013 – here.
  • Allison Rossett – June 2013 – here.
  • Carol Panza – May 2013 – here.
  • Jane Bozarth – April 2013 – here.
  • Judy Hale – March 2013 – here.
  • Margo Murray- February 2013 – here.
  • Neil Rackham – January 2013 – here.
  • Robert (Bob) Mager – December 2012 – here.
  • Joe H. Harless – November 2012 – here.
  • Thomas F. Gilbert – October 2012 –here.
  • Sivasailam Thiagarajan – September 2012 –here.
  • Geary A. Rummler – August 2012 –here.
  • Dale Brethower – July 2012 – here.

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7 comments on “My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Ray Svenson

  1. Pingback: In Memory of Ray Svenson on the Anniversary of his Birth | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: Design a High-Level L&D System Architecture – from the Late Ray Svenson – HPT Treasures – for Evidence Based Performance Improvement

  3. Pingback: T&D: Reflections on 40 Years in the Biz | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  4. Pingback: L&D/PI: Thankful for My Many Mentors | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  5. Pingback: Review: The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  6. Pingback: RIP Ray Svenson | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  7. Pingback: My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Roger Addison | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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