ISPI – My Professional Home Since 1979

And It Could/Should Be Yours As Well

That’s the point of this page.

ISPI started as NSPI

In 1962 seven founders came together to form the National Society of Programmed Instruction. They were: Carlton Downing, Walter Driskill, James Gillespi, Gabriel Ofiesh, David Wark, Harold Wren, Mike Zaccaria.

In May 1973 the name was changed from the National Society of Programmed Instruction to the National Society for Performance and Instruction. And in June 1995 the membership voted to change the name of the National Society for Performance and Instruction to the International Society for Performance Improvement.

I Joined an NSPI Chapter in September 1979

I attended my first Chapter meeting the month after starting my new job, post-college in Saginaw Michigan – at MSIT – the Michigan Society for Instructional Technology – back when IT stood for Instructional Technology and today’s IT was MIS – Management Information Systems. It was a 100 mile drive each way to attend the rubber-chicken dinners and hear fabulous speakers from NSPI.

At that first meeting for me – which was also the first meeting after a “summer break” there was a big buzz about that last meeting before the break. Every group I met was talking about the same thing.

Seems some guy named Frank Wydra didn’t like what that last speaker was saying, took a pair of rounded off, kid’s sissors, cut the cord of the Overhead Projector (shocking himself) stood up said this is BS, let’s reconvene in the bar.

I thought: “How Cool Is That!”

No BS.

That was the tipping point – or is that tripping point?

On the drive back to Saginaw I was informed by my boss that I had been signed up to the Newsletter Committee – what nowadays is being “Voluntold” – versus “Volunteered.” Ah, the old days.

I Joined the Parent Organization – NSPI – in 1980

In April 1980 I attended my first conference – in Dallas – and joined National. I met Geary Rummler, Bob Mager and Joe Harless – and many, many others, as I was pushed/encouraged to just go up and introduce myself. I got Bob Mager to sign my copy of “Analyzing Performance Problems” – which was later borrowed, never to be returned.

I bar tended at the MSIT Hospitality Suite – a mainstay back in the day – paid for by several Detroit firms including CU – Creative Universal. I learned another thing that day – crash every party – even if Invitations are required.

It was the culture.

I Started Serving on NSPI Committees in 1983

I moved to the Chicago suburbs in early 1981 – and joined the Chicago Chapter. They held meetings during afternoons so I didn’t attend many. I remained a “supportive” member of that chapter – even though I didn’t attend many meetings as I traveled so much – and remained supportive until I moved to Charlotte NC in 2004.

In 1983 I joined the Marketing Committee for the upcoming Detroit Conference in 1983 – to get ready for the Chicago Conference in 1985. I served on that Committee for 3 years. I worked with Kathleen Whitesides and Erica Keeps the 1st year – and Ken Silber and Rob Foshay the 3rd year.

I designed the “Conference logo” as part of my role – and my hand-drawn diagram was professional turned into the following – with the license plate and headlights just as I envisioned them – and the rail line to Ford’s brand new Fairlaine Center in the background.

Then I worked on numerous Committees as a volunteer, Deputy and Chairperson, including on standing Committees for: Marketing, Awards of Excellence, Membership, Gilbert Award, Honorary Life Member Award, and other temporary Task Forces over the years (decades).

I Served on the Board April 1999 – April 2001

In 1998 I decided to run for the Board. I won and served as a director and on the 3-person Executive Committee with the President and President-Elect as the Treasurer. I served on Dale Brethower’s Board and then John Swinney’s.

I Served as President-Elect and President April 2002 – April 2004

I took a year off and then ran (unopposed) for the Presidency after asking a couple of others who had run but not won previously “if they were going to run again” – my intent was to allow them to do that and I’d wait another year. Well, that let the cat out of the bag about my intent – and I ran unopposed – a first I was told.

I served as PE – President-Elect on Jim Hill’s Board and had Don Tosti serving as PE on my Board.

My Conference was in Tampa in 2004.

I Continue to Serve the Society

I owe it to those who came before me and modeled this strange behavior:

Serve as an elected officer – and then up your level of effort

Co-Founder of the ISPI Charlotte (NC) Chapter – 2009

In September 2008 I met Dick Handshaw while presenting at his user’s conference in Charlotte. A client of his in Raleigh had seen my presentation to that chapter and had insisted that he invite me to present. So he did. Afterwards we sat at lunch and discussed ISPI and local chapters. He had started a couple – and we both conspired to do that again. I had planned on doing so after moving to Charlotte in 2004 – but found myself traveling too much to realistically tackle that on my own.

We started actively planning in April 2009. Dick knows everyone in the area and he recruited a Board of almost 20 for our first meeting in July 2009.

I contacted many in my ISPI International network – and calling in chits – put together a Program starting with Thiagi doing an evening Program and a full-day Workshop in October 2009 – followed by Judy Hale, Allison Rossett, Diane Gayeski, Darryl Sink, Rich Pearlstein and Dick and I collaborated to put together a December 2010 Program of local talent – which is our Chapter’s tradition: Bring in the BIG names for 5 of our 6 bi-monthly meetings – and reserve that last meeting of each year for our local talent, using Cracker Barrles and 99-Seconds and venues such as that to give as many as wish to particpiate a platform to begin that aspect of their Professional Devcelo0ment.

Check out our web site at:

But wait – there’s more…

Charlotte Startup Story
This 55-page booklet/ document (by Dick and Guy) details the procedures, tactics, and strategies used by the ISPI Charlotte Chapter for chapter operations.

Instead of applying traditional chapter strategies and hoping for different outcomes chapter leaders ignored old assumptions and started with new ideas. Existing chapter leaders can adapt their tactics as needed for their own chapter.

The first thing Dick and I agreed on in April was that Board members were not to be caterers.

Food was way down on the priority list for the two of us – and that BIG names with great, valid (EBP -Evidence Based Practice) was where we would focus.

Knowing that most people would not expect that – as what they were used to was the Dinner Meeting – or minimally catered sandwiches, etc., and that we would really have to market the concept of “lousy food & great speakers” in our market – as well as Market-the-Heck out of our incoming speakers – who would seldom be known by our members and prospects.

We were going to be all aboutLow Cost/ High Value Professional Development.

Marketing and Programming would BE KEY.

We “opened our doors” in October 2009 – with Thiagi’s session and workshop – with 135 members and over 55 at each event.

Here is the full Thiagi Session at our inaugural Chapter Meeting…

Thank you Thiagi!!!

Honorary Life Member Award – 2010

In early 2010 I got THAT call. The one you never expect.

The 5oth Anniversary of ISPI – 2012

This was my 31st out of the last 33 Conferences – since I first started coming in 1980 – and this one was held in beautiful Toronto.

Happy to have served with people like these…

Very proud of this recognition…

Joe Harless Comes Back For the 50th 

I videoed Joe’s session with Paul Elliott, Al Folsom and Carl Binder and was invited by Paul for a dinner that evening held in Joe’s honor.

Joe is semi-active behind the scene’s of ISPI – keeping a finger on the pulse so to speak.

NSPI-ISPI Timeline

The NSPI/ISPI Interactive Timeline is a fun and engaging way to explore the key historical events that have shaped the Society and the field in which we work. The timeline is an easily navigable tool that can be referenced on-demand. There is a plethora of information and images included in the timeline. You can navigate through the timeline at your own pace, surfing through information by decade, year, or category. Categories include: human performance technology (HPT) in practice, major Societal changes, major international conference changes, committees, and Certified Performance Technologist (CPT).

Go – here.

The ISPI Web Site

The Membership Value Proposition As I See It

Bottom line: Learning through Networking with like-minded professional in the “Improvement Space” and via the Publications and Presentations and Personal Connections with those like-minded Improvement Professionals!

Quick Story:

At the 2012 Conference I told one new to the Conference person, a friend of mine, to go up to a group of three that included Joe Harless, Danny Langdon and Kathleen Whiteside so he could meet Joe Harless who had very much impressed this new to the International Conference member.

I said, “Go to that spot between Joe and Danny and whenever someone takes a breath, introduce yourself.”

I had previously told my friend about the NSPI-ISPI “culture” of asking anyone about anything – and getting an answer and not a “sales” reply.

My friend walked up to the other side of that triangle of talent and stood about 4-5 feet between Joe and Kathleen. I watched from 15-20 feet away. I thought, “jump in!” I walked closer my self to signal my friend to move in for the kill.

But that wasn’t necessary. I watched as Danny looked over, saw my friend, motioned him in to the group and said, “come in here.”

I could have cried. With pride. For MY PROFESSIONAL HOME.

Still true today. The gurus are always accessible.


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