Study Guides and Strategies

Way back when I was a shiny “young” new Training Development Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, one of my first jobs was managing e-Learning project teams AND designing e-Learning. A great site that I discovered (or may have been shown to me – it was a long time ago) was “Study Guides and Strategies.”

I have recommended the site to learners of all ages ever since, AND often included it as a resource for self-motivated learners taking e-Learning courses I have designed, to seek out additional information on their own.

During a virtual meeting today, one of the participants mentioned his daughter is currently in her second year of post secondary studeis and I said “HEY! I know this great site!” Jumped to Google and lo and behold – it’s gone. I was so disappointed!

As a last result I checked the Wayback Machine (aka and there it was!! If you are interested in learning more about learning… just click HERE. (

A Process Model to Improve Performance

Last month I shared V10 of the Performance Improvement Process Model or PIPM. While I had started writing earlier about the differences between problems and opportunities in “Opportunities vs. Good Ideas“and needs vs. wants in “Putting the NEED in Needs Assessment,” V10 has had some significant changes! Rather than write a long post – it seemed like a better idea to share the recording of a webinar I did last week that covers the changes and includes some stories relating to the main steps. Hope you enjoy it! If you would like copies of the handouts/articles mentioned in the webinar, drop me a line and I will send them to you!

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Arrgghhhh It’s me favourite day of thee year shipmates!

Ahoy, Me Hearties! This National Day sails away annually on September 19th.

Yo Ho Ho bilge rats! Today is the day where you might hear people saying, “Avast ye,” “Blow me down, Bucko,” “Grog” “Hornswaggle,” and many other pirate-like phrases, because it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day.


Anchor’s away! Get your sea legs and a bag o’ dubloons to procure a barrel o’ rum and splice the mainbrace! You can join in anytime with your own version of Pirate-ese. Want to learn more on talking like a pirate? Go to Use #TalkLikeAPirateDay to share on social media.


International Talk Like a Pirate Day was founded by John Baur and Mark Summers (aka Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy) in 1995.

National Day of Encouragement (USA)

A National Day of Encouragement is observed annually on September 12 in the USA, but wouldn’t it be great to do the same here in Canada? This day is dedicated to uplifting people around us and making a positive impact. The National Day of Encouragement is meant to remind all of us to do something to offer encouragement to those around us, whether it is someone at work or in our personal lives.


Easy! Make deliberate acts of encouragement by simply providing reassurance and inspiration to people around you. You could… high five someone for a job well done or take notice when a friend is getting close to a hard-earned goal, encouraging them to keep going! How about sending a card or giving a call or text to a family member who may be struggling? Remind them how important they are to you!! Use #NationalDayofEncouragement to share on social media.


The Encouragement Foundation at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas launched an effort to get Americans to participate in this Day of Encouragement. The first proclamation for the Day of Encouragement was made by Mayor Belinda LaForce of Searcy, Arkansas on August 22, 2007. In September Mike Beebe, the Governor of Arkansas signed a proclamation making September 12, 2007, the “State Day of Encouragement” for Arkansas.

Later, President George W. Bush also signed a message making September 12 the official National Day of Encouragement in the United States. Let’s all try and share a little encouragement north of the border too!

Labour Day

#LabourDay #Laborday

The first Monday of every September recognizes the men and women who labour to build this country. Through a time-honored tradition with roots in the coordinated efforts of the labour movement of the 1870s, Workplace Performance Consulting salutes the Canadian (and American) workforce.

This National Day also signals the official end of summer. With the school year starting and an extra day to the weekend, all the hard-working men and women earn a well-deserved break! Families take one last summer trip and cities hold that last festival for the season.


Labour Day is often spent as a vacation weekend by many families. Most campgrounds on this weekend are packed full as is the river in front of my house. As you celebrate this day, consider and appreciate your hard work and how it has added to the well-being and prosperity of our country. Use #LabourDay (or #LaborDay) to post on social media.


The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights. The aim of the demonstration was to release the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade. In spite of this, the Toronto Trades Assembly was already a significant organization and encouraged workers to form trade unions, mediated in disputes between employers and employees and signaled the mistreatment of workers.

There was enormous public support for the parade and the authorities could no longer deny the important role that the trade unions had to play in the emerging Canadian society. A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa and passed the house of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John Macdonald. Later in the day, he appeared before the gathering and promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This happened in the same year and eventually led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.

Labour Day was originally celebrated in the spring but it was moved to the fall after 1894. A similar holiday, Labor Day is held on the same day in the United States of America. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. Many countries have a holiday to celebrate workers’ rights on or around May 1.
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National “Work Like a Dog” Day!

My French speaking friends and colleagues often tell me that the English language is confusing. Take, for instance, these two common sayings we use in our everyday lives: “It’s a dog’s life” and “Work like a dog.”

Originally, “It’s a dog’s life” referred to a “miserably unhappy existence, as in He’s been leading a dog’s life since his wife left him. This expression was first recorded in a 16th-century manuscript and alludes to the miserable subservient existence of dogs during this era. By the 1660s there was a proverb: “It’s a dog’s life, hunger and ease.” (

My dawg Zeus – living up to saying #1

Nowadays, “It’s a dogs life” refers to our uber spoiled pooches who are able to laze around and sleep all day, having no worries or issues more pressing than dinner time. I like to experience the dog’s life during fishing season – in my boat!

Now, “Work like a dog,” on the other hand, means exactly the opposite. It means working to your maximum ability for an extended length of time. I have had to do this from time to time… at work and at home! I have pictures to prove it! This is my buddy Phil and I putting a cement pad in for our garden shed. That man is a machine. I slept for two days after we were done! Note I am sweating and he is NOT!


You can celebrate by either working very hard! Or… if you’d rather, you can simply share just how hard you work on Social Media using #NationalWorkLikeADogDay to keep folks informed. You could also search that hashtag and see how hard others are working!

“All models are wrong, some are useful.”

Image of George P Box

The statistician George Box (1976) coined the phrase “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” I have used this quote many times… in workshops, as content in lessons for clients on modeling and simulation and at cocktail hour. Okay not at cocktail hour!!

If you are one of the seven avid followers of this blog, you have seen the continual efforts to make the Performance Improvement Process Model, (PIPM) now in it’s tenth iteration, useful. Every time I post an update or use it in an article, I get more feedback that moves me and the model closer to that goal.

Recently I received a comment from my friend and colleague Dr. Jim Hill, the CEO of Organizational Performance Systems, regarding the PIPM on LinkedIn. Jim reminded me that part of the value consultants bring to their clients is the adaptation of “our” models (there are soooo many) to fit their processes and language. So very true!

Another good friend and colleague of mine, Lieutenant Commander Janice Kirk, is doing exactly what Jim described, using the PIPM and a host of other models to inform the creation of a process model for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Materiel Division (the folks that buy the big equipment aka tanks, planes and submarines) to clearly explain to project stakeholders what the differences are between Needs Assessment/Analysis and Training Needs Analysis. With her permission, I am sharing it below.

Janice’s NA to TNA process

I know… hard to read in this form! If you right click the image and select “open in a new tab” you can see a larger image that’s much easier to read. (You’re welcome!) If you are a “keener” and compare this model to the PIPM, you will see that the major steps are the same… it’s the bits in between that:

1. Drill down more,
2. Address the ADM Mat specific requirements, and
3. Link to the military guidance (Canadian Forces Individual Training and Education System (CFITES) policies and processes.

It’s a great example to underscore Dr. Hill’s advice that we need to work within and adjust to the client’s processes and just as importantly, speak their language. If you did open up Janice’s diagram in a new tab, you have seen it is rife with “CAF” TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms) and more! Just for fun, I have included them below under TLA’s in case you are REALLY interested 🙂

Box, G.P. (1976). Science and statistics. Journal of the American Statistical Association 71(356) pages 791-799.


ICT: Initial Cadre Training – training which enables CAF members to perform the tasks associated with new equipment, systems or directives upon their fielding, delivery or initiation. The responsibility for this training rests with the Project Management Office/Contractor for new equipment and systems, unless specified otherwise in the statement of requirements.

JBS: Job Based Specification – the document that describes the tasks, medical requirements etc for specific jobs.

MES: Military Employment Structure – The arrangement of CF [Canadian Forces] jobs into structural elements, consisting of military career fields, occupations and sub-occupations that collectively provide the necessary management framework for the personnel life cycle of activities across all components of the CF and throughout the spectrum of conflict.

MOS: Military Occupation Structure- The arrangement of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) jobs into structural elements, consisting of military career fields, occupations and sub-occupations that collectively provide the necessary management framework for the personnel life cycle of activities across all components of the CAF and throughout the spectrum of conflict. It is a structural arrangement of the work performed by members of the CAF.

MOS ID: Military Occupation Specification Identification Code – Equivalent to a National Occupation Code.

QS: Qualification Standard – Describes how well the job should be done using Performance Objectives (POs).

QSP: A combined QS and TP. Far more efficient.

RQ: Rank Qualification – A qualification, obtained via formal training, that enables a member to perform one or more entry level occupational jobs, where required to attain a new substantive rank (RQs replace former occupation qualification levels, such as QL3, QL5, etc.)

SST: Steady State Training – training identified in the QS/RQ for normal career progression.

TP: Training Plan – describes the instructional programme which will enable the learner to achieve, at optimum cost, the performance objectives from the QS.

Improving the Performance Improvement Process Model

Each time I present the Performance Improvement Process Model (PIPM) and as it becomes more widely used, I receive feedback from colleagues on how to improve it. Some I accept and apply, others I file away for future reference ’cause you just never know when that suggestion might fit! Looking back, I have written about the model a lot starting with “Needs Assessment or Needs Analysis” (Still my most popular blog post to date) followed by “Just because it says performance doesn’t mean it’s there (sadly)” then “Opportunities vs. Good Ideas“and finally “Putting the NEED in Needs Assessment” waaayy back in February.

Since then – there has been lots of feedback from a number of presentations practitioners and readers, so it is time to officially share version ten of the model!

The Performance Improvement Process Model (V10)

What’s different? I’m glad you asked! First, I always appreciated that Van Tiem, Moseley and Desinger’s (2012) HPT Model was “wrapped” by Change Management (CM) to indicate that it is something that has to be considered throughout. This was an important improvement on their earlier versions. Enter Change 1: The PIPM needed that too! I also believe that Project Management (PM) is equally important, as all our work is project based. Like CM and PM, formative evaluation is an activity that occurs throughout. Van Tiem et al show this by having a box at the bottom of the model that spans all other phases. I added it to the three foundational practices and show summative evaluation as the “Measure Performance” step in the process.

Big Change #2: This all occurs after the intervention analysis step. I always felt this portion of the model was thin. For major interventions, like rolling out a new enterprise customer relationship management platform, we need to do a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) to verify the ROI and then put it into a business case for sponsor/client approval. Fail to do that before jumping into the design and development phases and you might be doing some serious back peddling that could have been avoided!

Big Change #3: A little more clarity on the split between training and non-training interventions. BOTH require objectives and metrics if we want to be able to measure performance during and after implementation so defining user requirements was added to the non-training intervention side. Defining user requirements always reminds me of this well known cartoon:


Another piece of the puzzle that is crucial to getting right. The picture explains it best. Right? Right!? For anyone who hasn’t experienced one of the pictures above, please stand up. I see we are all still sitting.

Change #4: Not a huge change, but I added the infinity symbol between “Measure Performance” and results improved – or not. Obvious to some that we need to keep measuring as this creates the systemic feedback loop to monitor performance, not so obvious to others. So it’s a handy little reminder.

Last Change: In earlier versions I had “Mega, Macro, Micro” as originated by Kaufman (1996) beside the Needs Assessment Step and as layers behind “Gaps.” If you aren’t familiar with “Mega Planning” you can get a brief overview here: I changed to worker, work, workplace and world, based on Addison, Kearney and Haig’s (2009) work as I felt it was easier for people outside of the field to understand. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Kaufman fan and a believer in Mega… but if you have never heard of it, those terms won’t make much sense.

Okay – let’s wrap this up. I started writing about each of the major steps in the “Opportunities vs. Good Ideas“and “Putting the NEED in Needs Assessment” articles earlier this year before getting side tracked by that 4-letter word “work.” My near term schedule is a little lighter so I am hoping to get back to the deeper explanations of the remaining steps.

If you like it, please pass it along. If you see something missing, have a question or want to talk about fishing, drop me a line. The model continues to improve because of all the fantastic feedback. Thanks!


Addison, R. Haig, C. & Kearney. L. (2009). Performance architecture: The art and science of improving organizations. San Francisco. Pfieffer.

Kaufman, R. (1996). Strategic Thinking: A Guide to Identifying and Solving Problems. Arlington, VA. & Washington, D.C. Jointly published by the American Society for Training & Development and the International Society for Performance Improvement 

Van Tiem, D.M., Moseley, J.L & Dessinger, J.C. (2012). Fundamental of performance improvement: Optimizing results through people, processes and organizations. San Francisco. Pfieffer.

Debunking bad training practices is never-ending work!

I recently did a keynote and session for a large government organisation. As a Debunker Club member – I always try to add a little bit of debunkification to my sessions. After I was finished – I had the opportunity to attend another session delivered by some senior leaders within the organisation. Their goal was to tell all the training professionals in the room about their experiences with this organisation’s training system and how the system needs to change.

I have always found it interesting that there are people that believe because they have attended training, they have expertise in the analysis, design, development, delivery and evaluation of training. Of course everyone has valuable feedback to offer, but in this case, the senior leader stood in front of the same audience I told to stop worrying about generational differences and claimed we have to treat the youngsters differently because she has three boys and they are different. Oh my. Stand by for a small rant – which I saved for here rather than embarrassing this person in front of about 80 training professionals.

She started by educating us on learning styles and how we all learn differently. My migraine was beginning. I’ll leave that one alone. If you still believe inn Learning Styles – here is an article that I hope will help you think differently!

Then it was on to generations and the need to change the way we train the younger generations. The example provided was changing a tire. Her son had a flat. She told him what to do. He didn’t believe her and went to YouTube to find a video that showed him. It provided the same information. SO because the boy used YouTube, training professionals need to change the way we “do” training. HOWEVER, in the next breath she told us that SHE used YouTube to learn how the repair her toaster! (I think it was her toaster – could have been something else.) Two different generations using the same medium to access information to learn something they needed at the moment to complete a task. Video may or may not be the right way to support a desired learning outcome. Patti Schank (2019) explains it very nicely in her article. It’s about what needs to be learned. Not the age of the learner.

Example #2 of why organisations need to change for the millennial… they want organisations to be invested in their personal and professional growth. Okay. Doesn’t everyone – regardless of age, gender, race etc want their employer to be invested in their development? This isn’t exclusive to one group! No matter how you want to divide up your workforce!!

Example #3. Millennials learn at different paces. Yes. Yes they do! So do Boomers, Gen X ers, Gen Y. I am a horribly slow reader and have an even worse memory for certain things (names, title of books etc). That slows me down. I have friends who I am pretty sure have near eidetic. That helps them get to where they need to be faster. Lucky them. Thankfully Google and Kindle are technologies that helps a young Boomer (or old Gen Xer) like me to close that gap!

Example #4. Millennials want learning to be FUN! I am sure they do! So do I. The problem here is – not all learning can be “fun.” Some learning is hard work, extremely stressful, even painful and there is no way to design fun into it. Aspects of infantry training, paramedic training and surgery come to mind. Do you want your surgeon to have fun or be the best surgeon she or he can be? Fun doesn’t necessarily increase engagement or improve learning outcomes. Sure – there is a time and place for it. It depends on the desired learning outcomes and the best methods and media to “get there.”

I think that’s enough on generations. As Christensen and Tremblay (2013) said… “The most current research has shown that generational differences between learners [or race or gender sic] do not in and of themselves warrant the specification of different instructional designs or the use of different learning technologies. Rather than focusing valuable energy on determining if different generations will learn more from direct instruction, e-learning, blended instruction or gaming, instructional designers should continue to work closely with subject matter experts to identify the required objectives of the curriculum.”


Christensen, B.D., & Tremblay, R. (2013) Generational learning differences. Myth or reality? In R. Sottilaire (Ed.), Fundamental issues in defense training and simulation (pp 21-30).

Schank, P. (2019). Does video improve engagement and learning? Retrieved from

The Debunker Club (n.d.). Retrieved from

Employee Appreciation Day!

Employee Appreciation Day is observed annually on the first Friday in March. This day was created as a way of focusing the attention of all the employers in all industries on employee recognition. Businesses and organizations plan celebrations across the country recognizing the achievements and contributions of their employees. 

Employees are one of your greatest assets – regardless of the size of your company.  Personally, I believe they are your single most important asset. Without your employees – where would you be? Recognition and appreciation are one of the key motivational factors in the workplace!

You can show your gratitude for your employee’s efforts and contributions to the goals of the company in a variety of ways from rewards to verbal interactions. Expressing employee appreciation increases employee job satisfaction. Plain and simple!


Great Ways To Show Your Employees Some Appreciation

  • Be Flexible – Flexibility goes a long way in this virtual reality world. If possible with your industry, allowing a little flexibility can reap huge benefits when you need last minute work done.
  • A Thank You Note – When a job has been done well, a heartfelt, hand-written thank you means more than a slap on the back or an e-mail sent off at the end of the day.
  • Team Effort Celebration – If the team pulled together and made it happen, reward them with an office pizza party, casual dress day or even close the office early so they can spend some well-earned time with family.
  • Get Caught – Make sure the employee hears you telling someone else you thought they did a great job.
  • Create a Culture of Encouragement – Employees who expand their horizons bring new skills to your workforce and will encourage others to do so too. Praise their achievements and encourage others to pursue their goals.

If you have employees, be sure to show them some appreciation and use #EmployeeAppreciationDay to post on social media.


National Employee Appreciation Day was created in 1995 by Bob Nelson, a founding Recognition Professional International board member, together with his publishing company, Workman Publishing.