Article: Models, Mayhem, and Mastery




In February 1998, Kathleen Whiteside, spouse of Danny Langdon, publish the Master’s Series article, “Models, Mayhem, and Mastery” in Performance Improvement. In the article, Whiteside presents three models:

  1. Performance Technology
    Illustrates why training doesn’t work, why HPT is needed, and why expertise in multiple areas is needed
  2. Organization Performance
    Don Tosti’s and Stephanie Jackson’s illustration of a healthy organization
  3. Performance or The Language of Work Model (developed by Danny Langdon)
    Articulates performance at four levels:
    1. Business Unit
    2. Core Processes
    3. Workgroup
    4. Individual

The Concept of Mayhem

Whiteside explains this in her own words:

We cause mayhem when we do not learn from others or follow models that have [not] been tested and validated. It happens when we are unclear about our role in the organization, or when we behave unethically. It is the mayhem we create individually and collectively that prevents us, as a profession, from being able to have the appropriate impact on our organization.

One last note: Whiteside acknowledges that there are several published models that contribute to our insight (some have similar characteristics and purpose), but she cautions not to commit to one, single model. Doing so “is like closing one’s mind.” So, when someone argues for one model to rule them all (vague Lord of the Rings analogy), such as one model that represents human performance, be cautious!

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