L&D: Knowledge Strategies and Tactics Adapted From Gilbert

A Recent LinkedIn Conversation Took Me Back Into Gilbert’s Human Competence Book

This is the 40th Anniversary of this classic. A difficult to get-through (for me) classic.

My LinkedIn Post

I’ve been using the Performance Model since 1979 to make sure that Training and Performance Aids squarely addressed the Outputs and Tasks and the Measures for both. It is also used to systematically derive the Enabling Knowledge/Skills. Here’s how: https://lnkd.in/effUNGT

This is a more recent version of the Human Competence cover – after ISPI bought the publishing rights – to make it again available … and you can buy it – here.


It took me three attempts to read it from cover to cover starting in 1979 when I joined the Training world.

Chapter 9 – Knowledge Strategies and Tactics

From pages 268-269.


My first job out of college was at Wickes Lumber in Saginaw – after spending 2.5 years at one of their lumber yards in Lawrence KS as a part-time inside sales person while finishing college after the US Navy.

The people who worked with me – besides Geary Rummler’s brother-in-law were two who had worked with Geary’s brother at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Detroit – where they were kind of a lab for the Rummler/Gilbert methods. Note, in Tom Gilbert’s book, Human Competence, the insurance examples were from The Blues (as it was referred to back in the day).

We used an adapted set of formats to capture Analysis data – that I further adapted starting in 1982 when I became an external consultant. More on that later.

We followed these Gilbert Principles…

From the book, Chapter 9…



Zoom In


5 Stage Progression


Zoom In


Teaching a Skill


Zoom In


BTW – I used to have a copy of the blue line version of the book in my files – as those 2 that I have worked with in Saginaw had been asked to read and comment on the book before it was finalized.

The Next Year After Publication – 1979

At Training Services (TS) at Wickes in 1979 we adapted Gilbert’s (and Rummler’s) formats – a set of derivatives, if you will.

I Blogged about that a while back: https://eppic.biz/2016/07/20/giving-voice-to-performance-voice-to-the-work/

Here is the Performance Table we used 1979-1981:


This became my Performance Model – after a short stint as a Job Model – but I kept getting projects that involved more than one Job and calling it a Job Model no longer made sense.

Here is our adapted Knowledge Map from 1979:


And more explanation…


Here is my Performance Model format – in use since the mid-1980s:

Here’s one filled out:

Here is my Knowledge/Skill Matrices format – in use since the mid-1980s:


Here’s one filled out:

I changed the formats for data capture and reporting due to my methods – primarily the FGP – Facilitated Group Process.

And because I did projects that were larger than the bread box of a course or small bundles of courses – as I was doing airplane hanger sized efforts – Curriculum Architecture Designs – and analyzing whole jobs and/or processes – and multiple jobs/whole departments at times – that preceded the bread box sized efforts of Course Development.

And I knew that if – because a current state gap was a priority to address – Training Content (including Performance Support with or without instruction) was to be built – we would address the Knowledge Map elements at that time – deferring that in-depth analysis and the Analysis Paralysis – and avoiding boiling the ocean for a cup of tea – as that saying went – back in the day.

We would follow Gilbert’s guidance in the design of Training. Per the guidance of Chapter 9.

About Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis was a real thing back then – in the 1970s and 80s – as it still is today IMO – that I was determined to avoid – recalling yet today the words of one client at Motorola in 1981 who told me, in front of a room with 30+ of his peers,

“We hate it when you come back 90 days later     

telling us what we told you on day one.”



My predecessors had done me – and others – harm with this client and it was an appropriate uphill challenge to turn them around.

I did. Because my approach to analysis wasn’t what one client later called “The Texas Ranger Approach.”

One riot – one ranger.

Instead I engaged my client’s handpicked experts (Exemplars in Gilbert’s terminology) and facilitated them through both Analysis and Design – where I owned the Process and they owned the Content. And they made sure that the Content was right – Accurate. Complete and Appropriate.

That helped sell it because, and … as I asked those handpicked Master Performers in front of PST – Project Steering Teams … during the first moments of the structured Gate Review Meetings – where the PST got an opportunity to “inspect in” the quality at the end of key phases – “Did we produce garbage or what?”

The answer from the Analysis Team or Design Team was always a very loud and raucous: “NO!”

And then my Analysis Team and Design Team would immediately start to defend what we had produced – they’d been in these meetings before where the powers that be believed wholeheartedly that they were on the payroll that minute to challenge and tear apart whatever was being presented – especially if presented by some internal consultant. It would typically get so raucous that the PST Chair would have to get loud to quiet everyone else down – so we could move on through the agenda. I’d smile and move on.

It was typical that no questions came up about the quality of the data after that start. Deviousness by design.

It’s the Process and the People in the Process that make all of the difference in the world IMExp.

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One comment on “L&D: Knowledge Strategies and Tactics Adapted From Gilbert

  1. Pingback: Adapting Gilbert and Rummler – Waaaaay Back in 1979 – HPT Treasures – for Evidence Based Performance Improvement

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