Two 2003 Articles on Performance Improvement Consulting via HPT

But First – What Is and What Is Not HPT – Human Performance Technology

THAT was a huge issue from my perspective. How can you promote and market a Society “all about” something that was at best defined as dealing with “Instructional” and “Non-Instructional” interventions? I wasn’t the only one being driven to address this.

In 1983 Geary Rummler published an article broaching the subject – that he allowed me to republish – here.

And in 1992 Joe Harless had published this article – here.

No one was successfully tackling this. My two years on the ISPI Board (1999-2001) pushed me over the edge – so to speak.


This, from Jeanne Farrington, EdD, and Richard E. Clark, EdD as the team assembled in 2002 began the 2 year effort to clarify HPT…

Definition of HPT – Human Performance Technology

Human Performance Technology – An integrated systems approach to improving human performance.

Criteria to Judge applications of HPT:

  1. Is focused on valuable, measured results;
  2. Considers the larger system context of people’s performance;
  3. Provides valid and reliable measures of the effectiveness of those applications
    Clearly describes applications grounded in prior research or empirical evidence (or are not discouraged by either one) so that they may be replicated under the conditions and by the means for which they were recommended*

*When stated this way, intuition and respected practice are permitted and encouraged (provided they meet the first three criteria) without scientific evidence provided that there is no research evidence that it may not work under the conditions or by the means where it is being recommended.

Our definition of human performance is: “those valued results produced by people working within a system.”Assumptions:

  1. A technology is a set of empirical and scientific principles and their application
  2. Human performance technology is the technology concerned with all variables which impact human performance
  3. All organizational processes and practices impact the production of valued results, whether positively or negatively and whether those results go measured or unmeasured, acknowledged or not. (Everything that an organization does affects what it accomplishes, whether or not the results are acknowledged or desirable.)
  4. The purpose of all organizations is the same: to create value for their stakeholders; this is accomplished by aligning all processes, practices, and resources to maximize the production of that value.
  5. We collaborate with and value the expertise of other disciplines; human performance technology becomes the integrator and multiplier.

Note: ASTD at some point in the late 1990s branded their version as HPI – Human Performance Improvement.

ISPI was focused on both the means, HPT, and the ends, HPI, and wanted to help others master the technology of Performance – where “technology” mean the application of science.

Back to the Beginning

In 2002 I had begun the formal effort to help ISPI – the International Society for Performance Improvement – To Clarify HPT, thanks to both Judy Hale and Jim Hill, two ISPI Presidents that proceeded my turn at the helm.

Here are two article in PIJ – ISPI’s Performance Improvement Journal – from February 2003 that kicked off this Society-Wide Initiative. Thanks to the late Roger Kaufman, who with me, invited a mix of “the usual suspects” and some “rising stars” in The Society to tackle this effort. He also co-edited the February 2003 issue to communicate our intent and process and participants to the entire Society.

One of the controversial issues was the name “HPT” itself – which had morphed along the way from Performance Technology to Human Performance Technology – and some were clamoring to “get the H out.”

The End Products that the Initiative Produced

Here is a website that contains everything about that effort – end-to-end.

Performance Improvement Consulting is becoming a “hot topic” but too many seem to think this is all about Performance-Focused Learning.

I worry as the late Joe Harless used to, I guess.

It is certainly much more than that – more than Performance-Based Training.

If you are in L&D – ensure that your focus is on terminal Performance. I look at it this way…

But make sure that you address your client’s needs – regardless of how they initially express them. Assume that they want Performance – and not just some packaged Learning Content. They may need that, plus more. Or they may not need that at all.

Focus on the Performance Requirements – and Enable Them.

Go For Performance!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.