Human Performance Technology: the study and ethical practice of improving productivity in organizations by designing and developing effective interventions that are result-oriented, comprehensive and systemic. (Handbook of Human Performance Technology, James A. Pershing)
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How to inspire your people in tough times…

Posted: July 14th, 2009 | Author: Patrick Smits | Filed under: Leadership Performance | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Tough Times, CCL, Jenah Crump Photography

How do you deal with downsized workforces populated with employees who suffer from any or all of the following negative emotions: insecurity, dread, apathy, passivity, carelessness, and resentment?

How do you lead people through change in times of extreme turbulence?

Making tough decisions, implementing change, and telling people that this is the way it is – really isn’t the same as getting them giving them the inspirational motivation to accept how things are and to work well.

As Michael Hammer – former Business Process Re-engineering guru of the last recession – now says: “The human side [of change] is much harder than the technology side and the process side. It’s the overwhelming issue.”

Daniel Goleman ["Primal Leadership"] has eloquently articulated the principle of a style of leadership that resonates with people – that speaks from the heart and offers a measure of re-assurance and certainty of conviction about the direction in which they are being led.

But how you do you translate that into action? How do you actually provide inspirational motivation for people? What are the keys?

In his article, Stephen Warrilow summerizes nicely what can be done. I fully agree with the fact that the Human Side is the most difficult one for change. It needs a lot of attention, energy and focus. But it cannot be overseen.

(read the full article)

We are all connected…

Posted: July 10th, 2009 | Author: Patrick Smits | Filed under: Team Performance | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »


We are all defined by what happens around us. On a large “quantum physics” scale we could say that we are all connected with each other. We are all energy. In normal situations, where a lot of strangers are together we tend to not feel this connection. We focus on our own internal self. We do not make contact with what happens around us. And when this last too long we start feeling depressed. But…

Only when something happens around us that synchronizes the energy into a nice frequency we get music. Music gives us the energy to dance. And when we dance together we feel even more energy. And the more this energy synchronizes the happier we start to feel. This energy of being connected with each other widens out to all person in the neighbourhood of this event. It works like a magnet.

In Antwerp Central Station there was a nice experiment of a dance group that set up a public performance. More than 200 dancers were performing their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of “The Sound of Music”.

Watch for yourself and see what this does with the people coincidently in the neighbourhood of this synchronized event.


Fun, passion and togetherness is what connect us. It is amazing to see how quickly this can be realized with a crowd of people that does not know each other. Just having fun together… And it works.  If you do not believe this works… here is a more recent proof of how passion connects us. The passion for music. 

These are two performances made at Segels Torg and the Central Station (Stockholm). The dance collective Bounce came up with the idea and invited the public to a short choreographed session before hitting the streets.

(Copyright Pierre Wikberg)

Wondering why in this so called financial and economic crisis, companies have a hard time to connect again with the fun, passion and togetherness. The paradox, however is that we all need this. Where are fun, passion and connection gone in some boardrooms?

There is no magic. Neither the money nor the performance appraisals will have the same effect. But only those simple things will make a world of a difference.

What have survival skills in common with corporate performance?

Posted: June 22nd, 2009 | Author: Patrick Smits | Filed under: From the news | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments », CCL, uh...bob

In the article “How to Survive A Disaster”, Amanda Riley describes in nice examples how little things can change you life in life threathening moments.

How to Survive a Disaster

Some learning’s from these stories are also meaningful for corporations improving their performance. Often little things can mean a world of a difference. Mostly those things are counter intuitive. And that’s why they seem obvious but Oh, so difficult to implement.

1. Prepare a plan

Experience shows that effective rescue plans are counter intuitive. A plan will help you to act against your intuition. The best plans are made without stress, when things are obvious and logical. It also gives you time to test your plan. You can call in outside advice to improve your plan. Knowledge is somewhere out there. Have also a plan B. When you are used with the practice of drafting plans, this skill will help you to adapt the plan when needed.

Therefore “scenario planning” is essential for organizations. And it needs to be a continuous process. It is best done when there is no need and everything seems to go well.

2. Build teams

Teams work best when there is a minimum of linking between the members. This will support team members to help each other. In mountaineering my fellow climber stands for my survival. The more I help him, the more I will be helped when needed. Team cohesion is essential for survival.

Organizations depend on their teams and networks. Teams become more global and virtual. Team members hardly ever meet in a world of travel restrictions. In this context it is therefore more difficult to achieve this cohesion. And yet, it is only in a face to face encounter that those connections are made. Teambuilding needs time and a place.

3. Define and attribute roles

The fact that all team members are skilled “first aid helpers” and carry their title, will engage them in helping. It is impressive what just roles do with people. People will tend to act to their roles.

In matrix organizations people have more and different roles. We called it “role inflation”. Roles and responsibilities are diluted. Simple and clear roles help clarity. These roles can change as long as this is communicated and clear for everybody. A simple label with your role can already do miracles. At rock festivals the security people have SECURITY clearly on their hats and T-shirts’. No discussion.

4. Organize Leadership

Not everybody can lead. Leadership does not always need to be the same person. It is a role. And the person in the role needs to know what is expected from him/her in that role. This can be planned, trained and tested. The clearer the roles and leadership the more efficient the team becomes. This is not rocket science, but the price is high when leadership fails.

Leadership can be trained. Some people have more potential than others to take on a leadership role. However, I would prefer a trained leader to a high potential yet untrained leader. What is hidden potential without training and coaching? When we work with teams, we are sometimes surprised to see some people develop into great leaders when the conditions are right.

5. Train, train and train

It sounds boring. But repetition helps us to react without thinking. Specific connections are built in our brain that will engage when we need them. It seems that the body remembers and the brain is shortcut. An example is the musician who plays without thinking.

Training is about skills. Skills improve with repetition. There is no way around it. However it is important that the most effective skills are trained and reinforced. It has absolutely no use to be very efficient in doing the wrong things. Therefore is the planning so important.

6. Focus on the positive

But above everything that is mentioned there needs to be a “will to survive”. When this will to survive is not there, any plan nor skill will help you. A way to build this will to survive is by envisioning a positive outcome. One of the strongest ways to build teams is to let them work with the ideal situation. By focussing on the little positive gains, we are able to coop with the most devastating situations.

It sounds easy and in practice it is also very easy to focus the team on the positive. I think this is the easiest and the most effective intervention that can be done with immediate effect. Also this is a skill that can be learned.

Some simple questions can help you to do a health check:

· Do we have a plan?

· Did we test our plan?

· Do we have an alternative plan?

· Does everybody know his role?

· Is everybody trained for is role?

· Is it clear who will lead when?

· Are the leaders trained to take the lead?

· Did we train our plan?

· What would be the ideal outcome?

· What goes well?

These simple questions can already mean a lifetime differences to teams and organizations. In times of world financial and economic crisis, I think we need to go back to the basics and as us these little questions.

Doctors call in FI team

Posted: June 18th, 2009 | Author: Patrick Smits | Filed under: From the news | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments », CCL, azmil77, CCL, azmil77

Britain’s top children’s hospital has turned to the world of motor racing for help in moving sick babies at maximum speed and with minimum risk.

Doctors call F1 team

This is a nice example of creativity at work. It is applauded to call upon expertise from different domains in order to share best practices. The outcome could be even more exceptional if this process would be facilitated by experts with experience in change management and HPT.