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July 2010 v6no4
Building Capability
Not All Technology is Computers
In This Issue
Balance of Consequences
Top Five Time Management Tips

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Random Social Media Statistics
There is all kinds of interesting (and generally unverified) information on the web. Here are some stats that sound plausible. (We have the supporting links if you want to check...send us an email.)

Facebook has more than 400 million active users and 50% of those active users log in every day and 35 million of those users update their status daily.


In January 2010, over 75,000,000 people visited representing 1,100% growth over January 2009.

A large percentage of Twitter accounts are inactive, with about 25% of accounts having no followers and about 40% of accounts having never sent a single Tweet.

The Library of Congress recently decided to archive every tweet.

We read it on the must be true!
Next Issue
Stay tuned for more on process and capability, as well as other relevant topics related to building and supporting human performance. Some topics we have on deck include
  • Is your performance organization more like an army or a group of lone rangers?
  • Rant: Is compliance with a standard process equivalent to mastery performance?
  • And more...

And for additional content, check out the Library on our website.
Twittering, etc.

WTwitter_Te are on Twitter (though, we are not yet sure why)

Chirp with us: @Prhconsulting
Related Information
    We've got articles, presentations, and project profiles on the website. Visit our online library for all kinds of materials on human performance, learning, and business.
Discuss Amongst Yourselves...
Don't Forget the Blog!

We hope the blog format has not been overshadowed by the 140 character Twitter or similarly brief Facebook and LinkedIn posts.

There are a few new posts on our blog

   We use the blog for short notes and commentary on business and human performance issues. Recently, we posted

For the details, visit our blog.

Pass it On
It's easy to forward this newsletter to interested colleagues -- just click the "forward" link at the bottom!
Ruth Clark Skillcast
Evidence-Based Training

   Pete recently attended an ISPI skillcast put on by Ruth Clark, both to get some tips on how these sessions work and to learn about evidence-based training.
   It was a very well-done session with lots of interaction (which is not easy in that format). And, it is always good to know the research basis for what makes good instructional design.
   If you are interested, you can still "attend" by purchasing the recorded version. You can find out more at the ISPI website.  (Or, you can buy her book...which I did also.)

Check Out the October PI Journal

   PRH Consulting did a large-scale project to build a system for qualifying operators in a pharmaceutical plant. The intent was to build and verify capability using a combination of on-the-job orientation, training (on-site and in a "safe training environment"), coaching, and then observation of performance on-the-job for final qualification.
   Working with a team of consultants, we produced about 6 weeks of material in about 12 weeks of calendar time (with holidays in the middle of it).
   More importantly, the client measured ROI at 44% over five years (and 191% if you included loss avoidance). If you are wondering, their costs included all SME time and the time the operators were being training and qualified.


   Pete and Dottie Soelke (who worked with us on the project) have an article describing the project scheduled for publication in the October issue of the Performance Improvement Journal. Stay tuned -- we will let you know when it is out!
Dear Peter 
Greetings!  PRH_4 
   Well we've all been hearing about social media and it seems like one of those things that is probably being oversold but is apparently perceived to have some value to a lot of people. It all reminds me of the joke about the kid digging through a big pile of manure because of his unshakeable conviction that there was a pony in there somewhere.

  We've used Twitter in a few situations but may just not have the hang of it. In informal surveys of fellow professionals there seem to be two camps. One group consists of full-out supporters and the other is disinterested -- the second group sees it as something that only kids have time for. (Of course, "real IT" people used to pooh-pooh Apple products as toys back in the day so you clearly can't just dismiss something just because it doesn't seem serious either.)

  So I decided to task my employee to do some empirical research. I asked him to log onto Twitter for an hour and categorize the tweets in terms of usefulness and relevance. My thinking was that the resulting categories would range from "pointless" to "incomprehensible" to "not relevant" to "relevant but incomplete or wrong" to "useful." My hope was that the scale would be clearly tipped one way or the other and I would have the answer...or at least a good enough answer.

  Well, my employee, Ian, is also my oldest son and likes to think for himself (often a good trait...) He convinced me to attack the question a little differently. What was the conclusion? You have to read the article to find out.

  Our other key article this month is about a really useful tool for which we have not been able to find the originator. This kind of tool a form of technology as well -- it is a way to process information. My recollection is that I learned it during a workshop led by the late Dr. Geary Rummler. But I don't really know if he invented it or just shared it. It is a great tool and works whether you are managing the performance of employees or teenagers. It is called the "balance of consequences model."  If you know where it came from, please let me know. (I already do know it won't work on dogs...they don't care about long term consequences.)

   The ISPI conference was really worthwhile. San Francisco is a fun city to visit and the conference was a real high-energy event. Lot's of interactive activities and some really interesting ideas. In particular, appreciative inquiry, which initially didn't sound that impressive, can really change how you look at a situation.

   On Mother's Day, our team had a great time in Chicago walking for the Network of Strength. It was a cool day but sunny and the weather ended up perfect for walking. There were about 50,000 people there and they raised about a lot of money for breast cancer survivors. They are still open for donations so we don't know the total yet.


Peter R. Hybert, CPT

Principal Consultant


Ratio of Value to Dross

   Let me begin by admitting that I'm more likely to agree with John Stewart's take on Twitter than to buy into the hype.  I doubted that anything substantive could be imparted in 140 characters or less. After all, why would anyone interesting spend their days detailing every minutiae of their life for an audience of complete strangers? 

   Sure, Twitter might be a fantastic resource for potential burglars curious about whether or not you are home (  but could it also be a source of useful information for business professionals?

   So to satisfy my own curiosity, I set out to determine if Twitter had any relevance to someone like me, a human performance specialist and training developer. I created a list of keywords, searched and recorded all the recent tweets until I had a somewhat reliable sample.  Some searches would turn up fewer results than others and some would provide a lengthier sample. I admit this is not a scientific study and that I did not use a uniform sample size or apply objective criteria.

   To evaluate each tweet, I read, clicked any provided link and recorded simply whether they were insightful, an advertisement, relevant, a personal status (e.g. "I am at the store"), a message or reply (a communication directed to someone else), whether their link was useful, any additional notes, and whether I opted to follow that user (meaning receive all their future tweets). 

    Originally, the boss requested that I classify the data by their varying level of usefulness.  Shortly into my research I determined that it was not a matter of how useful the information was, but rather whether the information was useful. Of all 452 tweets, only one actually provided interesting information! I used very generous standards for what was relevant or insightful given that 140 characters is not much space.  Feel free check my work on the raw data log

    The search terms I used were: "training"; "performance technology"; "human performance"; "training and development"; "process improvement"; "capability"; "competency"; and "ISPI2010".  I admit Twitter is not intended to be used like Google® - doing word searches and then wading through countless pages of posts.  Presumably a new user would start by searching for things that are relevant to his or her interests and follow the people that have the best tweets. I decided to follow whom I charitably felt produced valuable input.  I figured this was a good faith attempt at using Twitter as intended.
containing the original tweets and my evaluations.  Make any criticisms you feel are fair. 

twitter chart

   I will be following this post up with some more Twitter content in the near future.  My next post will discuss several creative uses of Twitter.

   Have a recommended tweeter? Are you a twitter user yourself?  Follow us @


Links to a Couple of Related Articles

Send comments to Ian Hybert.

Balance of Consequences
Figuring Out What They Will Do and Why


   Some years ago Pete learned about a tool that could be used to predict what people (performers) would do in a given situation as well as engineer the performance environment to change/guide what they would do. It is called the balance of consequences model.

   The balance of consequences model is based on a simple premise -- people do what they want as influenced by the consequences as they understand them. Sometimes there are positive consequences or benefits. But the positive consequences might be opposed by negative consequences, which complicates the issue. And, some consequences might be immediate while others might only happen over the long term.

  Basically, you can look at the environment, look at the performance that people can do (they can perform as desired or not), and then evaluate the potential consequences for performing as you want or not. Based on the consequences, you might see why people perform other than desired and, instead of being annoyed, you may see ways of changing the consequences to shift the balance in favor of the performers doing what you want.

The Model

   The model is essentially a graphical model. Below is an example of how it works.

For Example

   Say you want an employee to check with the boss before making a certain decision. The response you want from that employee is to "check with the boss," therefore, if they check with the boss, the consequences that flow from it are shown in the "desired response" row. If not, they follow from the "undesired response" row.


   This model shows that, in the short term, you can probably get the employee to check with you by explaining your decision-making rationale when they do (in other words, engaging them in figuring out what the right decision should be) and by reprimanding them when they don't check. However, over the long term, this may have some unintended consequences, such as an overdependent/risk-averse employee who comes to you with every little problem.

   Psychologists will usually say that the immediately consequences usually win against the long-term consequences.

 The Bottom Line

   Once you learn the concepts behind the model, it becomes increasingly easier to work through it in your mind. So, you don't need to stop and draw a picture the next time you want to manage some performance...unless it is complicated. This thing really works, whether you are working with third graders, third grade teachers, or white collar professionals. We wish we could verify the inventor but, for now, let's say "thank you Dr. Rummler" and leave it at that. If it wasn't him, it just helps make up for his being way ahead of the curve on identifying the importance of managing business processes for which he hasn't really received anywhere near enough credit...
ISPI Skillcast
Collaborating Over the Web


   Attentive readers will remember that Pete and Dottie Soelke (a long-time colleague) led a "Chat and Chew" session at the ISPI International Conference in San Francisco called "Web-Based Collaboration: Working Together When You are Apart." They were invited to present on this topic as an ISPI-sponsored Skillcast this fall, specifically, September 11.

   We've noticed that, in today's specialized and technical marketplace, more teamwork is needed and yet, it is frequently the case that team members are not co-located. We have been researching various web-based tools for helping perform this work (full disclosure: it started because we needed a way to meet with our clients remotely) and decided to document some of our favorites as well as their features and strengths.

   Our presentation includes a decision tool using a matrix format comparing the capabilities of several project management, document management, on-line meeting, and even social networking tools. If you need to get a group together to work over the web, check out the session -- it may save you the time and trouble of researching dozens of options yourself!

   For more information, including the entire Skillcast schedule, go to the ISPI site.
Top Five
Time Management and Personal Productivity Tips
   Our current "top five" time and productivity management tips are listed below. Feel free to send us yours if you have other ideas.
1. The Taxonomy
   Anything you might do is either something you have to do, something you ought to do, or something you want to do. Try to keep a balance or you will end up only doing what you have to do. Usually, that means being careful about what you commit to in the first place.

2. Focus
   Doing one thing at a time works better than trying to multi-task. But how? Some ideas (not all of them our's but all of them can be effective..)
  • Put your phone on "do not disturb" and turn off email for designated periods of time.
  • Make your "to do" list in advance (e.g., the night before) so that when you come in to work you can start right in.
  • Close the door. (When Pete had a cubicle style office, he used to put a chair at the entrance with a "please do not disturb" sign. One of his co-workers used to put earplugs in!)
3. Plan Time for "Big Block" Events
   Remember the illustration about why you need to focus on the important things first? Something about putting big stones in the jar before gravel and then sand last. Because if you do the sand first, you will run out of room for the big stones but if you do the big stones first, the sand can fill in the gaps. (The big stones represent the important tasks...)
   We like to identify the tasks that require a "big block" of time (more than 90 minutes) and then actually schedule time for them on the calendar. It helps avoid the mistake of agreeing to meetings or over-committing because it looks like you have open time. Even if you can easily reschedule a discretionary "big block" task, at least you don't lose visibility of can always move it but it has to go somewhere.
   When doing this, by the way, remember not to pack your schedule completely full -- you need to leave room for the sand and gravel as well.

4. Find Your Zone
   We all know if we are a morning person or not. We know, in general, where we have to most energy and ability to concentrate. Whatever time of day it is, work with it. Try to avoid scheduling meetings or calls for this key productive time and, instead, devote it to working on things that require concentration and creativity. You'll get more done and probably enjoy your meetings and calls more too.

5. Two-Minute Actions
  This is from David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (or GTD) methodology and it works great. Quite often, if you look at each of your projects and identify the very next action, you will find things that can be done in less than two minutes that can actually move the project ahead significantly. Allen's recommendation is to just do them right away, rather than put them on a list. If you do put them on a list, keep them together so, when you have a few minutes between meetings, you can pick a few of them off easily.
   If you are in a management role, looking for ways to continuously move projects forward with quick two-minute actions (like calls, quick email reminders, etc.) can keep you from being the bottleneck to your people's productivity.

   What you don't want to do is multitask...only about 2.9% of the population is actually capable of multitasking effectively. For more background on multitasking, check out our previous article about how it works and why it is generally not a useful way to deal with having too much on your plate.
Thank you for your interest in PRH Consulting! For more about our company, approach, and experience, please visit our website at  
We hope you think of us the next time you need help improving or supporting performance.
Pete Hybert, CPT
PRH Consulting Inc.
Wheaton, IL

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