Farrington & Clark: Snake Oil, Science, and Performance Products (2000)

From the 2000 article…


Relevant performance improvement means actually helping individuals, organizations, and societies to meet their goals. Somewhere along the line, some performance technologists have lost sight of this and believe that the value they add is in designing and delivering training programs, or an organization structure, or a website that clients love. But it is not only client satisfaction that is important; it is whether the solution we provide to clients actually works and whether it solves a real problem that matters.


Many of our performance products do not work, and some are not the right answer to start with—not to the question being asked and sometimes not to any reasonable question that may be asked. In other words, there are a lot of solutions, beliefs, and practices that do not deliver the results that people hope they will (Farrington & Clark, 1999). The really sad part about this, and its salvation at the same time, is that the information about what actually works and what does not work is often available. But we have to invest the effort to learn how, commit to take the necessary time, and have the discipline to look for the answers.


For the rest of the article – as a PDF – click on the link below:

Farrington, J., & Clark, R. E. (2000). Snake oil, science, and performance products. Performance Improvement, 39(10), 5-10. farrington_clark_snake

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2 thoughts on “Farrington & Clark: Snake Oil, Science, and Performance Products (2000)

  1. Thanks, Guy! We might add Google Scholar to the list of places to look for a whole collection of peer-reviewed articles today.


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