Remembering Joe H. Harless on His Birthday

He Was a Giant in Instructional Systems Design

The late Joe H. Harless in 2008. I visited with him to record a video to kick-off the start of my attempt to market HPT – Human Performance Technology via a series of HPT Practitioner and HPT Legacy videos. All are on YouTube – and the index for the 61 videos is here.


Audio File From NSPI 1990 – What Works

This audio is about 60 minutes in length.


Thanks to Marc Rosenberg who shared the 6 cassette tapes with me that included this gem. Note that I am converting all six for ISPI – and the five other tapes are of: Geary Rummler, Tom Gilbert, Don Tosti, Karen Brethower and Sivasailam Thiagarajan (you probably know him as Thiagi).

I will post all 6 in a Blog Post later this week.

All are about “What Works” – and as I sat in two of these at the time (1990) it’ll be very cool to hear from the others what I had missed.

Back to Brother Harless

One of My Favorite Harless Quotes

Joe was a huge promoter of Job Aids.

His Famous and Out of Print Book

He sent me one of the last in his inventory – and made me promise to not share it online – and to fight to keep anyone from republishing it after his death. I could never get a good reason (in my mind) for his position. But I respect it.


The title – BTW – was a nudge at his best buddy – Bob Mager. I knew from my conversations that the two of them talked monthly.

He was a very friendly competitor – whether it be authoring professional books, fiction or table tennis.

Book: The Eden Conspiracy

From Amazon – where the book is available used:

The Eden Conspiracy is a unique book with at least four different audiences: policy makers and politicians seeking to dramatically improve the cost-effectiveness of education; educators who want to develop school programs that accelerate students’ progression from school to lifetime success; community stakeholders, including parents, business people, and civic leaders, who want their schools to better address the needs of their communities; and educational reformers who are ready for a sustainable approach that anchors educational programs in the ongoing needs of the communities they serve.

Fellow ISPIer Carl Binder and Harless fan was instrumental in seeing this book republished again recently. See more about that – here.

Book: Warrior (Fiction)

From Amazon:

Connected in a way unknown to themselves, a young white man and an African American of the same age live in a small town on the Black Warrior River in Alabama. It is the site where DeSoto massacred seven thousand Choctaws and their dying leader, Tuskalusa, cursed “all men-of-no-color” who would live on the river. The two become entangled in the bloody struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. Each is changed by the horror of the Birmingham riots and bombings, “Bloody Sunday,” and the freedom rides. Each is influenced by men as disparate as “Bear” Bryant, Martin Luther King, George Wallace, Malcolm X, and a Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.


Joe told me part of his motivation for writing this was to “best” his good friend, Robert F. Mager (Bob Mager) in writing fiction.

This is a favorite book of mine and I often would send this out as holiday presents at year’s end.

My review of this book – here.

Buy it used at – here.

We Did 4 Videos Together – Plus 1 More

My HPT Legacy and Practitioner Video Series

Three of my 61 videos in these two series are of Joe.






And at the ISPI 50th Anniversary Conference – where he and I had an agreement in advance – that I would capture his 90 minute session – which he ended up sharing with Carl Binder when they had been scheduled in conflict with each other.

Joe speaking at the ISPI Conference with other ISPI Past Presidents in 2012 in Toronto at the 50th Anniversary Conference. That video – taken by ISPI leadership – seems to be lost forever. That is a big shame. IMO.


Joe goofing at the NSPI Conference’s Awards Banquet in 1993

I was there – but did not take this video.

And – it’s one of those videos where you had to have been a member of ISPI to understand all of his inside jokes about NSPI and the members. Note: Very very poor audio.

Joe and Guy at ISPI 2012.

He spied me at the airport on our way into the Conference – and invited me to share a cab to the hotel. He paid for the cab – for those who might wonder.


This photo was at the end of a dinner sponsored by Paul H. Elliott – to honor Joe and their decades old business relationship. Thank you Paul for inviting me to attend!

In Memory

I was asked by ISPI to pull together the following memories of some ISPIers right after Joe’s death.

He had been worrying about his demise – he eventually told me he had a bad ticker during our cab ride months earlier – and he made me promise to insist that ISPI not hold any memorial services at a Conference – as he had a bad taste in his mouth seeing many pay tribute to his friend, colleague and frat brother, Claude (Butch) Lineberry years earlier – who he knew didn’t really know Butch. He was agitated about that. Note: ISPI did not hold a similar memorial in 2013.

BTW – he always greeted me as Brother Wallace, or Brother Guy, on the phone, in person or in emails.


See the full tribute in ISPI’s Performance Improvement Journal here as a PDF – Wallace-2012-Performance_Improvement

See a precursor to that tribute from ISPI’s PX newsletter – here.

Other Blog Posts

From Dave Ferguson’s Dave’s Whiteboard Blog …

Joe Harless, my hero

 Joe always told me that Dave was one of the best.

Other Recognition

ATLANTA, GA — The following information was released by the Technical College System of Georgia:

The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) has recognized the many contributions to education by the late Dr. Joe H. Harless of Newnan, Georgia by voting to name the certification process for Georgia’s college and career academies after him.

For more – please go here.

Happy Birthday Brother Joe

May you rest in peace. You are still making an impact!

# # #

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.