Revisiting an Effort to Clarify HPT – Human Performance Technology

Human Performance Technology is the Means to the Ends of Human Performance Improvement

This post is about Stage 1 of the multi-year Presidential Initiative completed in April 2004 when my term as president of ISPI ended. The final Report to the Board was published March 31, 2004 … 17 years ago today.

Stage 2 began shortly after that – but as it was not properly supported – as it would require major changes to The Society – the entire effort lost momentum a year or so later – and for the next 10-15 years merely framed the tracks of the annual conference.

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

One of the many issues addressed was the name of the set-of-science-based Practices known by various names over the decades. Should it be HPT, PT, PI, or what? Note: there were many other optional names for this thing, this collection of things, were explored.

Danny Langdon had made a strong case for “getting the H out” – a very memorable line – but was rebutted by Don Tosti who claimed that “all performance is a human endeavor” – and even more memorable line (to me anyway) – and so the H was left in.

ASTD – now ATD – had started using HPI as they embraced the concept of “improving performance beyond instruction” (my phrase for it) in the 1990s – which during the many discussion of ASTD invading ISPI’s turf by embracing all of this – and as ISPI had always considered ASTD to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room – did not consider going back to that label – as it too had been in the mix back in the 1980s at ISPI – which was then NSPI.

All of this confused ISPI’s marketing efforts – and muddled its Value Proposition as I had seen it – and so my intent in running for the Board – where I served in 1999-2001 – was intended as the first logical move toward running for the presidency – which I did after taking a year off in between as part of an informal agreement I had made with Jim Hill – who as a fellow Director (1999-2001) offered to support the initiative I had begun talking about during his reign.

I had kind-of announced my intent to the Board and The Society with this ISPI News & Notes article from 2000… “An HPT Marketplace View”…

You can read that short article – here.

I had learned quite a bit in my projects working with the Product Managers of AT&T Network Systems (1986-1994) developing Instructional Content related to the Product Life Cycle – from Concept to Development to Launch to Maturity to Decline & Discontinuation.

Anyway – I was driven to apply what I had learned to my Professional Home since 1979.

I was non-committed to what it all should be called. I just wished for “consistency” in the marketing of “it” and its Value Proposition.

But I liked where it ended up (personally) as it was about the application of science – the Means – by using the “Technology” word. Which of course can be confused (and is) with computers. But THAT provided an opportunity (IMO) to market the hell out of “Technology is the Application of Science” and ISPI is the home for that.

All means to the ends.

Lean and SixSigma included – especially as Geary Rummler’s Intellectual Property was licensed by Motorola when they created SixSigma – and the work that Rummler was going at both Motorola and GE would be considered “Lean” if one really looked at the work he was doing and teaching others involved in his consulting work at both firms.

For more, read Alan Ramias’ (who took over my several projects working with Rummler when I left Motorola in October 1982) BPTrends 2005 article – The Mists of Six Sigmahere.

And see/hear him speak about the streamlining work of Rummler in this video at the ISPI Rummler Tribute to Geary after his passing in 2009 – here (from the 44:40 to 57:55 minute marks).

My Video

This video is 5:33 minutes in length…

See the HPT for more about the effort – here.


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