The Perils In Chronicling the Emergence of Human Performance Technology – Rummler 2003

A Conversation on LinkedIn about the Roots of HPT Sparked This Post

November 1, 2003

Dear Editor,

I want to comment on Tony O”Driscoll’s ambitious, but risky, undertaking in the July issue of Performance Improvement – that is, to chronicle the emergence of Human Performance Technology. The effort is ambitious in trying to provide an accurate synthesis of a very complex and diverse field of endeavor in a few pages. It is risky because so much of the critical history of the field of HPT is buried deep in the relatively unpublished activities of the 1960’s. Dale Brethower has suggested (and I agree) that most all of the “discovery” that is the foundation of what has become HPT was done in the period 1958-69.


And from 1970 to the present, the rest of the world has been learning and applying the important notions developed in the ‘60’s, as they were slowly made public through various publications, presentations and workshops. These two distinct phases in the history of HPT – first, discovery of the basic principles of HPT by the original thinkers/innovators and second, the “discovery” of the power and application of the principles by the rest of the world – emphasize that the “history” of an idea/invention does not begin with its public acceptance.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

For the rest of Geary’s 2003 letter to the editor – which he had shared with me before this was published – as I was then the President of ISPI – when he was prompted to write this – please go to this PDF: Perils – Rummler and his history of HPT.

RIP Geary


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One thought on “The Perils In Chronicling the Emergence of Human Performance Technology – Rummler 2003

  1. It was good to re-read this. Geary (damn, I miss him and his intellect) was spot on from my view laboring in this vineyard from 1961.

    To this day, I have no idea where HPT came from. I think it is a very limiting term and frame of reference. I have attached an article on the topic.


    Roger Kaufman, Ph.D., CPT, ABPP, Professor Emeritus, Florida State University,

    Fellow, American Psychological Association, Fellow, American Educational Research Association.

    1123 Lasswade Drive, Tallahassee, Florida 32312;

    Email: or; or

    Phone: 850-386-6621 or 850-386-6874; FAX: 850 422-2722.

    I am honored that The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) has created the Roger Kaufman Award for the continual achievement of measurable positive societal impact by an individual or organization”.

    Please see any of my 41 books on


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