August 6, 1979, was my first day in the profession now known as L&D.
I had driven just over 800 miles from Lawrence, Kansas, to Saginaw, Michigan, the weekend before (stopping in the southern Chicago suburbs to stay with friends from Grade and High School) and was now at the headquarters campus of Wickes Lumber on the banks of the Saginaw River – and in a separate building where Training Services and its TV Studio were located.
I worked as an Inside Sales Representative for two and a half years in Lawrence at one of Wickes’ 280 lumber centers across North America while finishing college after my 3 years in the US Navy, and now I was a Program Developer.
On that first day, I was given three items to read:
- A September/October 1970 Praxis Newsletter on Guidance: The Short Way Home
- Analyzing Performance Problems – a 1970 book by Mager & Pipe
- Human Competence – a 1978 book by Tom Gilbert
I read that Praxis newsletter immediately – as we talked about how we were going to default to Job Aids instead of Training – after Analysis – as most tasks did not have to be memorized and “at the ready” and could be what I now call a Referenced Performance Response versus a Memorized Performance Response.
That evening in my hotel room, I read Analyzing Performance Problems – and boy, was I pumped. This all made so much “more” sense. You see, I had worked at Wickes and had taken many of their Training programs, and just like in the US Navy, they were all mostly centered on Knowledge and not on Performance.
That Gilbert book took me longer to get through. In fact, I made two false starts before the third attempt when I started with chapter 10, and after finishing the rest of the book, I reread chapters 1-9.
The next week I was given materials from a Praxis workshop from 1972 and a bunch of Harless workshop materials.
Then the next month, in September 1979, I joined our “local” NSPI chapter in Detroit – 100 miles away – and attended my first meeting of the professional affinity group that would become my professional home.
On the drive back to Saginaw, I was told that I had been volunteered to serve on the Newsletter Committee. That’s how things were done back in the day.
I went to the next National NSPI Conference in April 1980 in Dallas, and then served on many committees, and then as a Director on the Board (1999-2001) after NSPI become ISPI, and then as President-Elect and President (2002-2004). I also co-founded a chapter in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2009.
After 2 years or so at Wickes, I went to Motorola in the suburbs of Chicago, and after 2 years there, I joined a small consulting firm run by Ray Svenson. After 15 years there, where I first became a silent partner and then a not-so-silent partner, I founded CADDI and did that for 5 years before going solo in 2002 at EPPIC.
I’ve been at EPPIC for 20 years. I’m semi-retired now, but I still take on projects that interest me, such as performance-based Curriculum Architecture/Instructional Architecture projects, and ISD/LXD staff development in performance-based Analysis, Instructional Design, and ISD/LXD Project Planning & Management.
To borrow a phase, “Lately, it occurs to me, What a long, strange trip it’s been.”