T&D: The Importance of Attributions

AD Is a Thing

Attribution Difficulties that is. And it afflicts many. Giving “appropriate attribution” that is.


I Was Duly Sensitized to Attributions in the 1980s

Geary had mentioned to me way back in the 1980s, in response to a question from me, that all he ever wanted was attribution when people took and used or extended his methods, or tools, or techniques.

He was known for not hiding those details, but for freely sharing them. And I had known that the Performance Analysis that I had been doing since August 1979, was from him.

So in the Spring of 1999 I visited with Geary in his offices in Tucson. I had talked with him on the phone about my book, and how I was crediting the core of the Performance Analysis methods – one of four of the Analysis methods of my PACT Processes – to him – actually to a derivative of a derivative of his methods from when he was at Praxis with Tom Gilbert, that I had learned and used at Wickes Lumber in 1979, and since. And I wanted him to be OK with how that read and looked in the draft of the book I had yet to send off for publication.

So I flew to Tucson and spent 2 days with him at his home office. He reviewed what I wrote about Performance Analysis. We talked about it … and many other things. We went to dinner with our wives. And he asked me to leave the book in the 3-ring binder I had brought along, as he wanted to go through the whole book before giving me his OK and perhaps a marketing quote.

And that led to a few things. First, the Fax.

Just the Fax



Geary’s Responses

The OK

I no longer have that email, but he gave me the go-ahead. I could use his name.

The Quote

And he also gave me this quote for marketing purposes…


The Alternative Cover

Geary not only sent that marketing quote – after the NSFW Fax Quote – he sent a cover he had designed and had created…

The Cover Contest

So we at CADDI – my consulting firm at the time – ran a contest.


The Cover Contest Winner…

… was … but of course … Geary’s version.

We didn’t get a lot of votes (around 12 if I recall correctly) but how could I not use the cover, he, my mentor, had taken the time and effort (and expense?) to create?


I Learned About Appropriate Attributions From Geary A. Rummler

One of my many, many lessons from the Good Doctor was the importance of “appropriate attributions.” We shared a lot – and was very OK when others took his work and used it or extended it. As long as they appropriately attributed it.

So it kind of irks me when I see some work, or quote, or diagram,  not properly attributed. We can all do better I think.


None of us are perfect in this regard.

I myself, wasn’t schooled formally in ISD or PI, and I have learned most of what I know about Instructional Systems Design and Performance Improvement I learned less formally, and mostly informally, by reading and attending conferences and local chapter meetings – and I tried to be sponge-like.

But I cannot always attribute my thinking about ISD and PI back to the source or whomever it was attributed to when I learned it.


That was one of the reasons I began My First Friday Favorite Guru Series – where I attempted to reflect back and then recognize those who were the sources for just about everything I know.

To recognize and honor them – and to seek forgiveness for my sins of attribution.

It’s also why I chose some of the targets for my HPT Video Series. Because I have learned from almost all of them.


Most things that we learned are at the end of a long tail of things that came before.

When we can, we should recognize and credit our sources – even if they weren’t the true originator. IMO anyway.

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