Sunday, October 23, 2011

Human Performance Improvement (HPI) and Podcasting

Review of Reading Assignment

This week our assigned reading in the Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology book by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012), focused on Human Performance Improvement or HPI for short. So, what is HPI and how is it different than HPT (Human Performance Technology), Organizational Management, Human Resource Development? These are the questions I was asking while reading about HPI.

There are several definitions of HPI. Three of the most well-known are the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) (2006). They define it as "A systematic approach to improve productivity and competence uses a set of methods and procedures - and a strategy for solving problems - for realizing opportunities related to the performance of people. More specific, it is the process of selection, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of programs to most cost-effectives influence human behavior and accomplishment. It is a systematic combination of three fundamental process, performance analysis, cause analysis, and intervention selection, and can be applied to individuals, small groups, and large organizations. Another well know organization, the American Society of Training & Development (1992), defines it as "A systemic approach to analyzing, improving, and managing performance in the workplace through the use of appropriate and varied interventions." And then one of the well-known proponents W. J. Rothwell (1996), one of the authors of Human Performance Improvement: Building Practitioner Performance (2007), defines it as, "A systematic process of discovering and analyzing important human performance gaps, planning for future improvements in human performance, designing and developing cost-effective and ethically justifiable interventions to close performance gaps, implementing the interventions, and evaluation the financial and nonfinancial results." 

According to Rothwell, Hohne, and King (2007), "All definitions share these characteristics: systematic, systemic, grounded in scientifically derived theories and the best empirical evidence available, open to all means, methods, and media, focused on achievements that human performers and the system value."

HPI is often used synonymously with HPT. According to Reiser and Dempsey, it is an euphemism (a less direct expression used in place of one considered offensive). It emerged in the 1990s, most likely because of its softer sound than human performance technology (HPT)." (2002, 2007, 2012). 

One of the main things that seems to make it different than other such initiatives, is that it doesn't look at and rely on training only. It seeks to look at the performance gap as a whole and identify necessary interventions to decrease the gap, whether it requires a new design, a revised design, training, various other interventions, or a combination of several things. 

An example shared in the Department of Energy's Human Performance Handbook, Chapter 5, tells how "Paul Fitts was an American Air Force Colonel who also examined the man-machine interface in aviation. He studied pilot accident records, digging through 460 cases of what were labeled as 'pilot errors' in 1947. He found that a large part of the cases consisted of pilots confusing the flap and gear handles. Typically, a pilot would land and then raise the gear instead of the flaps, causing the airplane to collapse onto the ground and leaving it with considerable damage. Fitts’ examined the hardware in the average cockpit to find that the controls for gear and flaps were 
often placed next to one another. They looked the same, felt the same, and, which one was on which side was not standardized across cockpits. This was an error trap waiting to happen. In other words, confusing the two handles was not incomprehensible or random, it was systematic; connected clearly to features of the cockpit layout." (DOE, 2009).

This is the type of gaps in performance that HPI is focused on identifying and improving. Obviously, the design of the the flap and gear handles in the various cockpits needed to be changed to lessen the chance of confusion for the pilots.

According to authors Reiser and Dempsey, "HPI is not just another disruptive fad, but a rational and reasonable next step in building valued human performance--one that makes eminent sense in today's demanding world of work." (2002, 2007, 2012).

Department of Energy (DOE). (2009). Human performance improvement handbook, DOE-HDBK-1028-2009. (Vol. 1: Concepts and Principles, Ch. 5: Human Performance Evolution). Washington, DC:  Government Printing Office. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Adapted from Rothwell, W. J., Hohne, C. K., King, S. B. (2007). Human performance improvement: Building practitioner performance. (2nd Edition). Burlington, MA: Elsevier. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Reflection Deliverables
  1. Related to Chapter 14, what are some ways the ideas/concepts/principles discussed in this chapter could be applied in your professional work? Do you see opportunities where these ideas could help you or your students?

    Response: HPI makes sense in that training oftentimes isn't enough to close the performance gap and deliver desired outcomes. When trying to identify an appropriate intervention, it is important to systematically look at all factors, not just the "training" or "development" factor as shown in the DOE example above. I believe that HPI, or as I've heard it called in some organizations, Continuous Improvement, is something that every organization should be looking at and implementing. I can see where we could use it for continuous improvement in staff performance and in the training that we provide to food protection professionals. Continuous improvement or HPI makes sense.
  2. Profile the podcast(s) you chose to subscribe and listen to or if you chose to make a podcast, provide a link to your podcast on your blog.

    Response: I chose to make a podcast, since I never had before. Here is the link to my podcast on my podcast channel at
  3. What added value might podcasting have in your professional setting (company, school, etc.)?

    Response: Podcasting, particularly for students, trainees, or other interested individuals who like to learn audibly is an excellent idea. Along with the idea of podcasting is vodcasting, i.e., video podcast. Lectures by a professor can be used by students to prepare for an exam or to catch up, in case they had to miss the lecture. Podcasting allows "just-in-time" training for students, teachers, and many others who want to and need to learn at hours different than a specific class time.

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