My 1st Friday Favorite Guru Series: Carl Binder

This month we start the First Friday of June 2014 with another of My Favorite Gurus…

Carl Binder

Carl is a recognized leader in Performance Improvement and Precision Teaching and Fluency.

From LinkedIn

A widely published author, keynote speaker, and consultant, Carl has spent his career since studying with B.F. Skinner at Harvard bringing the findings from the science of behavior into practical application. He has helped scores of companies, public agencies and schools around the world accelerate the productivity and learning of their people to improve organizational results.

As Co-Founder of The Performance Thinking Network, Carl teaches people at all levels and in all functions of organizations to think differently about how people perform to achieve results and what can be done to improve that performance. The simple but powerful Six Boxes® Approach provides a foundation for this new strategy for optimizing organizational and individual performance.

Specialties:performance improvement, best practices implementation, knowledge management, accelerated learning, educational policy, process improvement, accelerating organizational performance, sales, customer service.

From the Binder Rhia Website

Dr. Carl Binder began his career as a student with B. F. Skinner at Harvard University in 1972. He spent ten years as Associate Director of a human learning research laboratory, where his work established a foundation for what was to become the FluencyBuilding instructional technology.

He founded Precision Teaching and Management Systems, Inc., in 1982 to bring the fruits of this research and development to corporations and other large organizations. He founded Product Knowledge Systems, Inc., in 1992 with Information Mapping, Inc., to extend fluency-based performance systems and what are now called “knowledge management” strategies to Fortune 500 sales and marketing organizations.

He co-founded Binder Riha Associates with the goal of enabling clients to adopt and implement research-based performance improvement methods themselves (versus outsourcing them), thereby developing their own core organizational competencies.

He is a Co-Founder of his current firm: The Performance Thinking Network.

He is a leader in the field of Human Performance Technology, a widely sought after speaker, and author of dozens of publications in the fields of instructional design, performance improvement, knowledge management, sales and marketing, and educational policy.

I’ve know Carl for decades via our involvement at NSPI now ISPI – the International Society for Performance Improvement.

Honors & Awards

Fred S. Keller Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education

The American Psychological Association – June 2004

Awarded for over 30 years of research, development, and training of Precision Teaching and Fluency-based instruction.

ISPI Honorary Life Membership

The International Society for Performance Improvement – April 2009
ISPI’s highest award for contributions to the Society and to the field of human performance improvement.

ISPI Thomas F. Gilbert Award

The International Society for Performance Improvement – February 2012

For outstanding and significant contributions to the knowledge base of Human Performance Technology.

His Consulting Practice

From his web site

Six Boxes® Performance Thinking is a plain English approach to understanding and improving human performance that can be shared across your organization. By linking what people do to what you want to achieve, and knowing how to support performance cost-effectively, we can help you improve productivity, profitability, and employee engagement at the same time.

The Performance Thinking Network is a global community of individuals and organizations who use Six Boxes Performance Thinking to understand, communicate about, and improve human performance.  Based on nearly 40 years of research and experience consulting with organizations to accelerate results, we re-launched in early 2010 as a 21st century networked organization designed to create a shared body of knowledge and experience.

Our vision is to build a community of people whose shared experience will provide far greater insight and capability than the experience of any individual or sub-group, no matter how extraordinary, to push the limits of organizational productivity, profitability, and human engagement.

We are now just beginning to build that network through our programs, our affiliates, and such online networking facilities as our Six Boxes Performance Thinking group on LinkedIn . We welcome long time colleagues and new friends to join us and to spread the word about the power of Six Boxes Performance Thinking.

To understand more about our founding principles and beliefs, click here .

One Thing I Learned From Carl Binder

The Why’s of Measurement.


Why do we measure performance, and how does that affect how we measure? Recent discussions have reminded me of a framework that I have used for more than 30 years to clarify for myself and others the answers to these questions (Binder, 2001). I’d like to share it with you.

Validation is when we measure the effects of a program or intervention to demonstrate that it works. 

The second type of measurement is driven by the need for accountability. Organizations need to be sure we are spending their money, delivering services to their employees, and managing processes for which we are responsible.

In my view, the primary purpose of measurement in our field is to support decisions: about how things are going, whether we need to change, and what works best for improving individual and group learning and performance in a particular situation. 

Another Thing I Learned From Carl Binder Was

To avoid statistics.

He explains why – here.

Again – ISPI.

Video of Carl

And another…

Articles by Carl Binder

  • Binder, C. (1977-1982). The Data-sharing Newsletter 1977-1982. Waltham, MA: Behavior Prosthesis Laboratory, Walter E. Fernald State School. Republished in 2005 by The Fluency Project, Inc. Originally published as a mimeographed meeting notice and report, this set of 38 newsletters captures many of the early discoveries and developments in Precision Teaching during the period in which it was written. It began as a communication tool for a handful of people in the Boston area who met monthly for “chart-sharing sessions” using the standard celeration chart, it eventually expanded to more than 400 subscribers around North America. Full of ideas that are as important today as they were then.
  • Binder, C. (1987, September). Computing “Fluency” and ProductivityManaging End-User Computing, 4-5. This one-pager succinctly describes the elements of a learning strategy for building fluent use of computers.
  • Binder, C. (1988). Precision Teaching: Measuring and Attaining Exemplary Academic AchievementYouth Policy Journal, 10(7), 12-15. And old article with a succinct description of Precision Teaching, fluency-based education for children.
  • Binder, C. (1990). Precision Teaching and Curriculum Based Measurement. Journal of Precision Teaching, 7(2), 33-35. Fairly esoteric, for teachers, but might also interest the curious layperson.
  • Binder, C. (1990, September). Closing the Confidence GapTraining, 49-56. Fluency is fun, produces confidence, and brings on a whole host of positive feelings and affect. It feels good to truly “master” and apply any skill or body of knowledge.
  • Binder, C. (1993, October). Behavioral Fluency: A New ParadigmEducational Technology, 1993, 8-14. Summary of principles and key research supporting fluency-based instruction, including references to early studies in verbal learning and other traditional areas of experimental psychology.
  • Binder, C. (1996) Behavioral Fluency: Evolution of a New ParadigmThe Behavior Analyst, 19(2), 163-197. A longer and more academic article about the origins and principles underlying fluency-based instruction. We’re told it’s more interesting reading than you’d expect!
  • Binder, C. (2000) Fluency and Remembering. Carl acts as a consultant to the Haughton Learning Center, a program for children that uses methods based on the same principles and methods we use and develop. He wrote this article for the center newsletter.
  • Binder, C. (2001, March) Measurement: A Few Important Ideas. Performance Improvement, 20-28. While this article is not focused on fluency per se, it provides some background about the measurement principles and tools used in Precision Teaching and standard celeration charting, the methodology that has yielded most of what we currently know about fluency-based instruction.
  • Binder, C. (2003a, April) Doesn’t Everybody Need Fluency? Performance Improvement, 42(3), 14-20. This article lays out the view that we’re all trapped in the percentage correct “box” because of our educational histories since childhood, and that we can’t get beyond mediocrity to produce true mastery without measuring the time dimension. “It’s the measurement, stupid!” is another rude title for this argument. The article also contains a sort of research travelogue and previews key points from Binder’s upcoming book called Everybody Needs Fluency!
  • Binder, C. (2004). In Response: A refocus on response-rate measurement: Comment on Doughty, Chase, and O’Shields (2004)The Behavior Analyst, 27(2), 281-286. This paper was written in response to a review of rate-building research by Doughty, et al, in which the authors introduced errors into the Precision Teaching literature and recommended research designs without explicitly mentioning certain essential measurement components. We have not included the Doughty, et al article on this web site in the absence of permission to do so, but suggest readers request a copy of their article by writing Shannon S. Doughty, the first author, at
  • Binder, C. (2005). Learning, teaching, and an evolutionary imperative. A summary of remarks made by Carl Binder upon receiving the Fred S. Keller Award for Contributions to Behavioral Education. The American Psychological Association Division 25 Recorder, 38 (1), 10-12.
  • Binder, C., & Bloom, C. (1989, February). Fluent Product Knowledge: Application in the Financial Services IndustryPerformance and Instruction, 28(2), 17-21. This paper represents possibly the first documented repeated successes of fluency-based methods in the corporate world – in sales knowledge training for commercial and consumer banking. It launched a company, Product Knowledge Systems, Inc., which enabled sales forces in markets that demand consultative selling to know what they’re talking about.
  • Binder, C., Haughton, E., & Van Eyk, D. (1990). Increasing Endurance by Building Fluency: Precision Teaching Attention Span. Teaching Exceptional Children, 22(3), 24-27. A description of early research with kids linking so-called “attention deficits ” with a lack of fluency.
  • Binder, C., Haughton, E., & Bateman, B. (2002). Fluency: Achieving true mastery in the learning process. Professional Papers in Special Education. University of Virginia Curry School of Special Education ( This paper was prompted by Barbara Bateman, renowned special educator and lawyer, who requested a collaborative effort with the first two authors to make what is known about fluency available in plain English to a broader range of special educators and parents. Covers basic rationale and methodology for building fluency in basic skills.
  • Binder, C., & Sweeney, L. (2002, February). Building Fluent Performance in a Customer Call CenterPerformance Improvement, 41(2), 29-37. A huge success story for fluency-based methods in the corporate environment.. Binder Riha Associates helped ramp up performance to 60% better than the call center benchmark within two weeks after new hire training.
  • Binder, C., & Watkins, C. L. (1990). Precision Teaching and Direct Instruction: Measurably Superior Instructional Technology in Schools.Performance Improvement Quarterly, 3(4), 74-96. A good summary of two evidence-based methodologies that should be used in all schools today.

White Paper


A not-for-profit web service provided by The Fluency Project, a Washington State not-for-profit corporation. Our purpose is to disseminate information about behavioral fluency; and to connect people interested in building fluent behavior of all kinds, for all types of people: children, adults, professionals, athletes, musicians…everyone!

Check it out!

Carl Binder

Conference Presentations and Handouts

  • Binder, C. (2005). How to plan for program implementation using The Six Boxes™ Model. 2005 International Precision Teaching Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. This presentation summarizes the simple but powerful Six Boxes model for performance management and suggests how you can use it to plan for program implementation, e.g., homeschool, classroom, or building-level roll-out of a Precision Teaching program. While the Six Boxes methodology was developed and implemented mostly in companies, it is also applicable for educational and human services agencies, and even for families. This PDF file contains live (clickable) links to additional resources on the Worldwide Web.
  • Binder, C. (2005). R/APS, REAPS, and other acronyms. On a panel chaired by Kent Johnson, with Michael Fabrizio and Elizabeth Haughton, entitled, “Aims: Growing and sharing – What we know about aims and what are the next questions.” Presented at the 2005 International Precision Teaching Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. This part of a symposium corrects an historical and conceptual innaccuracy about Haughton’s acronyms (R/APS and REAPS), discusses the use of acronyms and their relationship to fluency research, and includes charts illustrating the effects that the acrornyms represent.
  • Riha, C.A. (2005). Using Precision Teaching in a homeschool setting. 2005 International Precision Teaching Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. In this presentation Cynthia discussed why she decided to homeschool her two boys, what she has been doing with them for the last year, curriculum tips, and other observationns. Great for homeschoolers or parents who want to help their kids.
  • Fabrizio, M., and Moors, A. (2005). The contributions of the standard celeration chart to intervention planning. Association for Behavior Analysis, Chicago, IL. In this presentation Fabrizio and Moors, two leaders in application of fluency-based educational methods for young students with autism, show how using the standard celeration chart — Precision Teaching’s central tool — supports more effective measurement, assessment, and evalution in educational programming.
  • Binder, C. (2005). Rate of response: A legacy for teachers and students from Skinner through Lindsley. Part of an Invited Symposium in honor of Ogden Lindsley, entitled: A tribute to Ogden Lindsley: Precision Teaching for fluency and celeration. Chicago, IL: Association for Behavior Analysis, May 28, 2005.
  • Binder, C. (2004). Charting results so we can understand and communicate them: The Standard Celeration Chart in Examples. A presentation at the International Society for Performance Improvement, Tampa, Florida. Describes basic features and advantages of standard celeration charting.
  • Binder, C. (2004, April 2). Everybody Needs Fluency! for families and professionals serving people with autism and autism spectrum disorders, keynote presentation at the New York Academy of Medicine, “Working Together” Conference, New York City. A version of the previous presentation intended for parents and professionals involved with persons with autism.
  • Binder, C. (2003). Removing Ceilings on Performance: Early Discoveries and Important Implications. Presented at the 2003 (November) Precision Teaching Conference in Columbus, OH.
  • Binder, C., & Sweeney, L. (2002). Fluency coaching accelerates learning and productivity ramp-up. Poster presentation in the GOT RESULTS? exhibit at the annual conference of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), Dallas, Texas, April 24. This presentation described results in a customer service call center in which new hire training was completely re-designed to devote more than half the program time to fluency development. Also cut training time by one third.
  • Binder, C. (2003). Everybody Needs Fluency! A Master’s Series presentation at the annual conference of the International Society for Performance Improvement, April 2003 in Boston, MA. This presentation outlines the arguments for building fluent performance.

Carl’s ISPI Series: Got Results

ISPI’s GOT RESULTS? archive is the product of a campaign managed over several years (1997-2005) by ISPI members Carl Binder, Timm Esque, and Julie Capsambelis. The purpose of the project was to demonstrate how practitioners can and do use meaningful measures of performance outcomes to evaluate and make decisions about performance interventions and ongoing performance systems.

Title & Author Sector Business
Global Lean Manufacturing System
Hogan, Linda M., MS, CPT
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Journey to Zero Harm
Zaffron, Steve and Loffredi, Olga,
Landmark Education Business Development, Inc.
Natural Resources Mining Transforming a Workforces Relationship to Safety Transforming Organizational Culture

Title & Author

Sector Business
Operations Center Customer Service Initiative
Armstrong, Phil
Information Mgmt(Private) Customer Service Management Raising the bar on current successful performance  Feedback system,
Process flow model, Better use of tools
Strategic Performance Measurement: The Case of Mississauga Transit
Plant, Thomas, MBA, MPA
Transportation (Public)  Operations Inefficiency, Threat of Outsourcing or loss of funding Performance Dashboards, Clear Goals and Feedback
Improving a Job Placement Service for Students and Professionals
Sasson, Joseph, MA
Professional Org. (Public Nonprofit) Job Placement Services Services Underutilized Process mapping, Customer Feedback System

Title & Author

Sector Business
Effects of Marketing Collateral on Customer Volume in a Small Business
Binder, Carl, PhD, CPT
Services (Private Small Business) Marketing Decline in Customers Marketing Communications
CEP’s Performance Intervention Produces the “Smoothest Cutover to a New System in Budget Rent a Car’s History”
The Center for Effective Performance, Inc.
Transportation (Private) Customer Service New Computer System Implementation Instructional Design
New Hire Training for Seasonal Call Center Staff: Meeting Increased Demand with Fewer Resources, Ceridian Benefits Services
Capsambelis, Julie
Human Resource Mgmt (Private) Customer Service Maintain Quality while adding new staff Instructional Design
Sales Performance Improvement Getting Results through a Franchise Sales Organization
Swinney, John, Performance Consultant, & Couch, Bruce,
Sales Training Specialist, Bandag, Incorporated
Durable Goods (Private) Sales Franchisee Salespersons Ineffective Process Changes and Clear Expectations, Training Program and Follow Up, Feedback of Results
If You Don’t Have Data, You Can’t Show Your Value!
Hao, Ruhe, Bank of America
Banking (Private) Call Center Percieved Ineffectiveness at Collections Instructional Design and Assessment, On Job Training, Process Changes, Job Aids
Systematic Productivity Improvement
Hynna, Shauna, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
Gaming (Private) Service Delivery Operational Excellence Clear Expectations, Frequent Feedback, Group Process for Improvements
Affective Training for Bottom Line Results
Lane, Miki,
Senior Partner,
MVM Communications
Durable goods (Private) Sales Lack of Product Knowledge and Attitudinal Issues Needs Assessment, Instructional Design
Visible Value With Performance Improvement Strategies
The Managers’ Mentors, Inc.
High Tech Manuf. (Private) Manufacturing Productivity (including Quality) Mentoring, Instructional Design, Performance Feedback
Achieving Business Results Achieving Business Results Through Human Performance Technology   
(** 3.5 mb PDF)
King, Stephen B., Management Concepts, Inc.
Durable Goods (Private) Manufacturing Changing Environment, Changeover times to slow Job Redesign, Clear Expectations, Perf. Feedback, Training
Building Collaborative Relationships In SCREW YOU Environments! (Reducing the COST of CONFLICT)
Tamm, James (Judge), Managing Director, BConWill SchutzAssociates
Education (Public) All Employee Conflicts costly Needs Assessment, Instructional Design, Follow up Consulting

Title & Author

Sector Business
Measurable Patient Performance
Agilis Consulting Group, LLC
Medical Equipment (Private) Product Development End users struggle to use equipment properly Human Factors,  Analysis, Job Aids
Put Your Money Where It Matters!
Burkett, Alison,
Lexington Associates
Energy (Private) Manufacturing Plant Operations Unreliable Process flow doc., Performance Logic, Analysis
Hilton Hotels Corporation
The Center for Effective Performance, Inc.
Hospitality (Private) Management Inconsistent Revenue,  Management Instructional Design
Examples From a Self-sustaining Performance System (SPS)
Esque, Timm J.
Education (Private) Administration Accounts Receivables out of control Process clarification, Clear Expectations, Frequent Feedback, Group Process for Improvements
Fluency Coaching™ Accelerates Learning and Productivity Ramp-up
Binder, Carl
& Sweeney, Lee
Unknown Call Center Productivity (including accuracy) Fluency Development, Clear Expectations, Supportive Incentives, Job Aids
Dropout Recovery & Prevention at North Lake College
PLATO Learning, Inc.
Education (Public) Instruction Dropouts struggle to recover and achieve GED Individualized, self-paced, mastery instruction
Example of Business Process Improvement
Smith, Martin
Telecom (Private) Accounting Cost Reduction Desired Process Reengineering
RE$ULT$ in the Public Service Sector
James, Randolph I.
Power Utility (Public) Operations Respond to increase in demand Id proper accomplishment, Establish and use performance metrics
Raising the Bar… Improving the Master/Model Performers in a Computer Help Desk (Call Center)
Panza, Carol M.,
CMP Associates
Telecom (Private) Call Center Customer Satisfaction, Productivity (including Quality) Process Flow, Performance Analysis, Various Interventions as defined by Analysis
Calculating The Return on Investment in Training: A Critical Analysis and a Case Study
Stolovitch, Harold D.
& Maurice, Jean-Gabriel
Banking (Private) Lending Perceived Potential for Increased Volume of Business Training, ROI Analysis
WANT RESULTS? Link your projects to a CBI!
Rummler, Geary A, PhD
High Tech (Private) Product Development Opportunity for Cycle time reduction Critical Business Issue Identified, Process Mapping, Various interventions as Identified
Self-Directed Work Teams Drive Performance in a Printing Plant
Levick, Michael,
Dynamic Performance Systems
Printing (Private) Operations Decision to implement self-managed teams and resulting issue SMT Training, Clarification of Roles, Quality Metrics and Feedback
Structured On-the-Job Training in Developing Nations
Stolovitch, Harold D.
& Ngoa-Nguele, Daniel
Developing Country    Training Centers perceived as ineffective Structured On Job Training
UNLEASHING INNOVATION: A successful approach to process improvement!
Preston, Karen,
Corporate Manager, Walgreens Company
Retail (Private) Distribution Continuous Improvement Training and Tools to help teams get started, Posting of results, Various forms of support

Check out ISPI at:

Carl’s ISPI Series: Measurement Counts!

Measurement Counts! was a series of articles published monthly inPerformanceXpress from March 2002 to November 2004. The titles, with links to the archived articles, follows.

Check out more like-minded resources at ISPI at:

Connecting and Networking via the Web & Social Media

Carl’s business web site is – here.

Carl’s LinkedIn Profile is – here.


Share Your Stories

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

Or simply share a URL there that is relevant.

And – thank you – for sharing!

The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series

We each have many influencers, mentors, both active and passive, knowingly and unknowingly in their respective roles in our development.

This series is my attempt to acknowledge all of them… one by one… in no particular order… as I attempt to consciously reflect on what I have have learned and whom I have learned it from, regarding all things “Performance Improvement” – my first focus.

I have a long list.

Lucky me.

Next month –  Walter A. Shewhart – known as the father of statistical quality control. 

Links to All of the Past Posts in the MFFF Guru Series

Here is a page with links to all of the Past Posts from this series, listed below – here.

  • Carl Binder – June 2014
  • Ruth Clark – May 2014
  • Rob Foshay – April 2014
  • John Carlisle – March 2014
  • Miki Lane – February 2014
  • Harold Stolovitch – January 2014
  • Bill Wiggenhorn – December 2013
  • Will Thalheimer – November 2013
  • Roger Kaufman – October 2013
  • Roger Addison – September 2013
  • Ray Svenson – August 2013
  • Dick (Richard E.) Clark – July 2013
  • Allison Rossett – June 2013
  • Carol Panza – May 2013
  • Jane Bozarth – April 2013
  • Judy Hale – March 2013
  • Margo Murray – February 2013
  • Neil Rackham – January 2013
  • Robert (Bob) F. Mager – December 2012
  • Joe H. Harless – November 2012
  • Thomas F. Gilbert – October 2012
  • Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi) – September 2012
  • Geary A. Rummler – August 2012
  • Dale Brethower – July 2012

Here is a page with links to all of the above Past Posts in My First Friday Favorite Guru Series– here.

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4 comments on “My 1st Friday Favorite Guru Series: Carl Binder

  1. Pingback: HPT Video 2020 – Carl Binder | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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

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

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

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