In 1985 Joe Harless Taught Me and Others – To Always Say YES to a Request for Training!

I recall the late Joe Harless on the stage at a 1985 NSPI (now ISPI) Conference.

He was complaining about how some in attendance – and in general – were offering advice to others about saying “no” or pushing back to clients’ requests for training.

He said – something to the effect of – and in his own whiny voice …

“And when your client asks you for help in developing some training, do not, repeat, do not say (in a whiny voice)

“Are you sure it’s a training problem!?!”

Instead say,

“Yes – I can help you – and I can help you even more
if we can do a little analysis first!” 

That was his reply, his advice, to the client and to all of the assembled. At least that’s my cognitive recall so many years later – and we should all appreciate what that means.

He went on to say things to the effect that saying “no” would start off the relationship/effort poorly.

That saying yes started one on the right path in the relationship.

And that doing the analysis before design/development – should help that client and others see whether Training was the right approach, whether a Job Aid would be more appropriate, or whether knowledge and skills were not central to the need/opportunity/problem at hand and something else needed to be done.

Joe taught me to never say no. To always say yes.

And to include Analysis in the approach that followed. And to come to a shared understanding with the client – on that journey – to uncover the situation, the need, and the right solution-set.

The only time I ever missed a Harless session at NSPI/ISPI was when I myself was doing a session. Otherwise, his sessions were always the place to be.

Here is a 1985 article by Joe that reflects on his Conference presentation plus other Thoughts from Harless:

That’s how I have approached every request. I took it on, rationalized why and when and how – and insisted on doing analysis – quickly – using my Facilitated Group Process (which I’d been doing since 1979 when I could). And then – we’d let the “data chips” fall where they may.

I’ve written about this in another new book (with the editor at the moment) on “Performance Improvement Consulting” that I hope to have out sometime in mid-2022.

Basically – it addresses when an ISD effort – AFTER ANALYSIS – might: 1) continue as planned; 2) continue in parallel with a non-Instructional set of improvement interventions; 3) go on hold until a non-Instructional set of improvement interventions efforts were completed; or 4) pivot to exclusively address a non-Instructional set of improvement interventions.

I’ve had a number of projects do 2 and 3 and a couple that did 4. There’s always a need for performance-based Training for New Hires – so 2 and 3 have happened when 1 wasn’t the obvious route for continuation.

A Decade Ago

Here I am with Joe in 2012 at the ISPI 50th Anniversary Conference in Toronto. The camera caught me a bit off-guard – but not Joe.

And here is a past post about a novel by Joe Harless – a GREAT NOVEL IMO BTW:

"Black Warrior’s Curse" a Novel by Joe H. Harless

And here is a post regarding his impact to me professionally – one of 44 posts in my Blog Post Series: My First Friday Favorite Gurus:

Joe H. Harless – November 2012 – here. RIP

RIP Joe. And thanks for all of your lessons shared!

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One comment on “In 1985 Joe Harless Taught Me and Others – To Always Say YES to a Request for Training!

  1. Pingback: Team Players Don’t Push Back | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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