T&D: Awards in ISD Should Not Be a Beauty Contest

ISD Is Not/Should Not Be a Beauty Contest

Awards should be given for Results Achieved. And for no other reason IMO.


Back in 1989

My client and I won an “also ran” Finalist Award from NSPI for our project addressing AT&T Network Systems Product Managers. NS-1251.


NS 1251 – was the Keystone Course of a top-down design of a Curriculum Architecture Design – was the culmination event after the Target Audience worked through a series of modular content based on the specifics of their assignment – and their incoming knowledge and skills based on their education and experience.

NS 1251 was built around a series of 25 Simulation Exercises where Product Managers ran 5 Product Team Meetings – one for each Phase of the Life Cycle – also and participated in 20 additional Product Team Meetings – learning about their non-Product Management team members and their concerns as they too went through all 5 of our Life Cycle Phases … see the Game Board …

My beautiful picture

The T&D Path (v. 1989)…


The NS 1251 Program was the last blue box of the 1000 Series… of the CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design …


Finalist. Hmm. Runner up. Hmm.

The Award Submission Package … Plus

38 page PDF from 1989 – 1989 NSPI AoE Submission Pkg for NS 1251.

From the Submission Package…


Results – Results – Results…


Feedback from the Target Audience – NS 1251 Feedback – for some seductive details. ;)

My Followup Inquiries Led to My Action

I saw who won (but today I cannot recall who they were and what their submission was all about) and I compared their documented Results to those my client had calculated – I got to wondering.

My immediate client and his project manager (my handler) worked with their CFO to calculate both the Investment costs and the Returns – as they weren’t about to let me and my handler do that on their behalf – because Reputation meant something to them.

When I inquired to the Awards Committee Chair as to why, one of the answers from the Committee head was that AT&T had won the previous year when he/she was the Deputy Chair – and was told “it wouldn’t look good for for them to win the top award two years in a row” I got mad.

So that’s how I came to volunteer to lead a 2 year effort to revamp the Awards Program at NSPI (now ISPI) and then 1 more year to support the Committee charged with Implementation.

A Three Year Grind

The late Bob Mager, whom I had met in 1980 at my first NSPI conference – but really didn’t know at that time – reached out to me once the word got out that I had asked the Board to assign me this task – to encourage me to make it Criterion Referenced. Which was my intent. Others also encouraged me to do the same. Those who know of Bob’s work know that it was all about Criterion Referenced – and not Norm Referenced.

So I worked with many others while carrying a heavy load as an ISD consultant – to get this done over two years and then handed off the ReDesign to another committee to Implement it – and I supported their efforts for the next year.

The Criteria of that Professional Society was, as those who were around it back in the day  should well know – was Worthy Outputs or Accomplishments (ala Gilbert).

Results. Results. Results.

Measurable Results.

Quibbling About Results

Now – we all quibbled about what and how to measure Results. My take on all of that was we were often talking Educational Contexts or Enterprise Contexts without distinction – and those Contexts are different.

In the former you don’t know the ultimate Terminal Performance Objectives of your students as you don’t know what job they’ll eventually get once they get their degree – and so you do the best that you can in establishing Learning Objectives – 3-part or otherwise, Terminal and Enabling or otherwise.

In the latter one should know the ultimate Terminal Performance Objectives of your Target Audiences as you should know what job tasks they’ll eventually be responsible for get once they get through your Instruction.

Nowadays I see Personal Learning in the mix, besides Educational Learning and Enterprise Learning.

It’s All About the Benjamins

Which for me – since 1979 – thanks to my managers and peers in the Training Services function at Wickes Lumber – was ROI. They taught me that the 4th level of the Kirkpatrick Levels of Evaluation – Results – was ROI – as that’s all our leaders at Wickes (and elsewhere) would understand. Invest nickles for dollars. Returns on Investments.

Benjamins In and Benjamins Back

Or whatever language and phrases work in YOUR CONTEXT. Mine has been corporate leaders where I was employed (1979-1982) or served as a consultant (1982-Today).

If I guided my clients in creating cheap and crappy-looking Job Aids for Performance Guidance & Support in the Workflow – and that saved them millions while making millions more – and had that submitted to some awards program where the majority of the other submissions were sleek/slick looking multi-media programs – and we lost out on the basis of Surface Appeal vs Results Achieved – I’d know what that wasn’t about.

It wouldn’t be about Value. Despite their slogans and marketing.

And it wouldn’t be worth my continued time, energy and money to participate further.

And I do know what I am talking about here.

Been there – done that.

Back to the Future? 

Results? Results? Results? Measurable Results?

Or backsliding?

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