T&D: Get Off The Road To ReWork City

SPIN Your ISD Customers & Stakeholders

I Have Been a Fan of Neil Rackham – of SPIN Selling fame – since 1981 – before his classic book came out.

I was at Motorola where Neil and his Huthwaite colleagues – John Carlisle and Richard Graham – were busy helping Motorola with SPIN Selling and with Win-Win Negotiations.

I got tasked with the Win-Win Negotiations effort. Both efforts and the people of Huthwaite were critically important to my professional development.

I was working supporting Manufacturing, Materials and Purchasing functions across 5 Business Sectors from the HQ Ivory Tower, as the joke went, and working with Geary Rummler, Ray Svenson, and getting exposed to the budding TQM Movement and Quality Circles, plus MRP, MRP II, etc., etc.

It was my work with Manufacturing that tuned me into rework – which I like to brand as ReWork. Just for fun. And to help make it stick out. As something to be avoided.


Avoiding ReWork is “lean” – something I learned from Rummler before it was called “lean” – and I always wanted my own work, in ISD and elsewhere to be “lean” and with minimal or zero ReWork required.

That – avoiding ReWork – or minimizing it – enables one to be more PREDICTABLE which was important to all of my clients at Motorola and since – as I became an external consultant after leaving Motorola in 1982.

That’s part of my reason for not embracing how some have positioned the anti-ADDIE efforts sometimes known as SAM. Which in my view/understanding is iterative in the Development Phase.

I’ve never had a client that was A-OK with unpredictable ReWork. Never.


My approach was to plan for evolutions of Content – in the Development and Pilot-Test Phases – of my ISD (ADDIE-like) methods – The PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management.

I always planned for 3 versions* for Content before the Pilot-Test version – the Alpha, Beta and Pilot-Test version were my labels – and reflected in the Project Plan for those Phases. That made sense to Manufacturing folks. And others.

*Note: I planned 5 iterations/version for what I labeled “The Lessons From Hades” during and after the formal Design efforts. That way we would all be focused on problematic Content – early and often – and in consideration of the Hard Scheduled Pilot-Test dates.

Back to Neil and SPIN.

SPIN Selling

SPIN is an acronym for a set of Communications Behaviors in a Sales effort – and other efforts as I’ve found – as in a Socratic Dialogue approach –  if you will – that I think of as a bit of a universal tool.

The acronym stands for:

  • Situation Questions
  • Problem Questions
  • Implication Questions
  • Needs-Payoff Questions

I have used those concepts and techniques when dealing with my own clients – to help me help them articulate their real issues and what’s important. My spin on SPIN was to look beyond the Customers themselves and seek insight into the other Stakeholders’ Requirements – needs, desires and constraints. See the graphic above.

This is fresh in my mind today thanks to Andres…

Anders Hjort

I’ve been following Anders Hjort for a number of years on Twitter – as he too is a Neil Rackham and SPIN Selling fan.

I use him to keep tabs on Neil – who I haven’t talked with since Neil agreed to do the keynote speech at ISPI 2004 for me when I was the Society’s president and got to pick the keynote speakers. Neil waved his normal speaking fees as a way of thinking me for directing my clients to him (AT&T Network Systems and MCC Powers – both of which are now operating under new names/ownership).

The other week Anders posted this update on SPIN from Neil:


Follow Andres on Twitter at: @ANDERSHJORT 

Back To: ReWork City Detours

The best way to get out of ReWork is to avoid it all together.

Clarifying a consensus of worthy needs – what Gilbert called Worthy Accomplishments – with your client/customer – and making sure it reflects and uncovers their Stakeholders’ Requirements – and any conflicts (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) – will help you avoid ReWork City.

And if you find yourself in ReWork City – as it was for some reason unavoidable – the best route out is determined by clarifying the situation, problems, implications and the needs to be addressed. IMEx.

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