Harless, mom, and ISPI



Shortly after earning my doctorate in instructional design (1977), I had the opportunity to hear Joe Harless expound: “I try to do everything I can to avoid instruction.” Hmmm-“What else was there?” I wondered. By the time the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) established a peer-reviewed journal for human performance technology (HPT) in 1988, and I served as founding editor, I felt I had come to understand the answer to my Harlessian conundrum.

My next problem was an old one that surfaced mid-grad school. Several of us had discussed, over proper libations, that we would finally be ready for our degrees when we could explain instructional design to “our mothers.” Now I found a similar problem. I had gone from not knowing what HPT was, to trying to explain it to students-and once again, to my mother. Zen Pizza was literally a moment of enlightenment for me over my mother's favorite tablecloth. I wrote it as the first article in the first Performance Improvement Quarterly (PIQ) issue in 1988 to help anchor a new readership. It is still my best story for “mom” and I hope it helps you find your own as well.