Thursday, June 30, 2011

Human Performance Technology (HPT) Definitions & Assumptions

In 2004 a Presidential Task Force of ISPI identified Human Performance Technology (HPT) as "an integrated systems approach to improving human performance" (ISPI, 2004, p. 6).  As the editor of the third edition of The Handbook of Human Performance Technology, Pershing (2006) provided the following definition of HPT in his chapter titled "Human Performance Technology Fundamentals": "Human performance technology is the study and ethical practice of improving productivity in organizations by designing and developing effective interventions that are results-oriented, comprehensive, and systemic" (p. 6).

This improvement in performance can be either in the improvement in human performance of individual workers, the improvement of human performance through the design/operation of processes, and/or the improvement in human performance through organizational initiatives and environmental / societal endeavors.  In each case HPT provides a systematic approach to provide a comprehensive performance improvement initiative, not short-term, with a results-oriented evaluative framework.

The Presidential Task Force (2004) identified the following criteria to judge whether an initiative is an HPT initiative:
  1. Is focused on valuable, measured results;
  2. Considers the larger system context of people's performance;
  3. Provides valid and reliable measures of the effectiveness of those applications;
  4. Clearly describes applications grounded in prior research or empirical evidence (or are not discouraged by either one) so that they may be replicated under the conditions and by the means for which they were recommended (p. 6).

HPT operates on the following assumptions, as outlined in the Presidential Task Force (2004):
  1. A technology is a set of empirical and scientific principles and their application
  2. Human performance technology is the technology concerned with all variables which impact human performance
  3. All organizational processes and practices impact the production of valued results, whether positively or negatively and whether those results go measured or unmeasured, acknowledged or not.  (Everything that an organization does affects what it accomplishes, whether or not the results are acknowledged or desirable.)
  4. The purpose of all organizations is the same: to create value for their stakeholders; this is accomplished by aligning all processes, practices, and resources to maximize the production of that value.
  5. We collaborate with and value the expertise of other disciplines; human performance technology becomes the integrator and multiplier. (p. 6)

The presidential Task Force report provides great information regarding the HPT Framework and is worth downloading and adding to your files - ISPI Task Force Report.  I would like to thank Guy Wallace for forwarding this link to me via Linkedin.  Guy is the President at EPPIC, Inc. and you can view his web page at for resources relating to instructional design and performance improvement.

ISPI Presidential Initiative Task Force - Stage 1 (2004).  Retrieved from

Pershng, J. (2006).  Human Performance Technology Fundamentals.  In Pershing, J. (Ed.), Handbook of Human Performance Technology: Principles, Practices, Potential, (pp. 5-34).  San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
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