RIP Roger Kaufman

I’m very saddened by the news that Roger Kaufman, Ph.D. professor emeritus from Florida State University passed away this afternoon. He was a friend & mentor since the early 80s. He gave so much to ISPI & Performance Improvement.

He will be missed. Mega. RIP.

My condolences to his wife Jan.

Roger Kaufman
Roger Kaufman

From Wikipedia:

Roger Kaufman is an American figure in the history of educational technology and performance improvement fields as well as strategic thinking and planning for public and private-sector organizations. Regarded as one of the founding figures of the field,[1] he is referred to as the father of needs assessment.[2]

Kaufman developed the Mega Planning model, a framework for adding measurable value to society.[3] In 2014, the International Society for Performance Improvement created the Roger Kaufman Award for Societal Impact.

Needs Assessment 

One of the defining characteristics of Kaufman’s work is his emphasis on “need” as a noun, not a verb; it is a gap in results and consequences, not a gap in resources or methods. Kaufman explains when “need” is used as a verb, it presupposes a solution before identifying the actual problem to be solved. When using ‘need’ as a verb, an intervention has been selected prior to a clear definition of the actual gap in results that would be addressed. Once a gap, or need, is accurately identified, only then can a means be sensibly selected for moving from current to desired results.

Kaufman expanded this approach to “need” from looking at gaps in products to gaps in outputs and then outcomes: from building block results to results delivered outside the organization to external client and societal results – what the organization used, does, produces, and delivers and the consequences all of that adds measurable value for our shared society. Used in this way, cost-consequences estimates may be made to prioritize closing gaps on the basis of the cost to meet the need as compared to the costs to ignore the need.

Kaufman identified three types, or levels, of needs: Mega, Macro, and Micro.[4] And Change, Choices, and Consequences published by HRD Press. The following table details the levels of needs and their definitions.

These levels of needs are also levels of planning for any organization and indicate a relationship between the levels. Alignment of objectives at each level is critical to ensure that planning translates into clear organizational operations and ensure that activities at each level add value back up the chain linking measurable to societal value-added.[5] As a consequence, no level of results is any more important than the others. Rather, it is the alignment of all levels that is critical to achieving desired results.

Extensive examples of planning and aligned objectives can be found in Moore, 2010 and Moore, Ellsworth & Kaufman, 2008.[6]

Mega Planning 

Kaufman has developed a model for strategic thinking and planning he calls “Mega Planning.” Kaufman argues that many organizational planning models incorrectly begin, and end, with internal or organizational performance and therefore fail to provide organizations a chance to plan how they deliver value outside of their organizations. Traditional planning ends with “Macro” level results, which are organizational results such as profits, graduation rates, ratings, etc. While these are important measures of organizational performance, they do not indicate the impact of an organization on external clients and society. Kaufman’s model is similar to some of the concepts behind “double bottom line” literature.

“Mega Planning” starts with the question of “What kind of world do you want for your children and grandchildren?” with responses distilled in terms of consequences.[7] An Ideal Vision defines the measurable variables for Mega planning including survival, self-sufficiency, and quality of life. He calls Mega planning (a system approach) “Mother’s Rule” because if you ask just about any mother what kind of world they want for their children, they don’t talk to means (credentials of teachers, money spent on social programs) but the survival, health, and happiness of their children.

Basic Ideal Vision for Society – indicators for societal well-being


The world we want to help create for tomorrow’s child:

There will be no losses of life nor elimination or reduction of levels of well-being, survival, self-sufficiency, and quality of life from any source, including (but not limited to):

  • War and/or riot and/or terrorism
  • Unintended human-caused changes to the environment including permanent destruction of the environment and/or rendering it nonrenewable
  • Murder, rape, or crimes of violence, robbery, or destruction to property
  • Substance abuse
  • Disease
  • Pollution
  • Starvation and/or malnutrition
  • Destructive behavior, including child, partner, spouse, self, elder, and others
  • Discrimination based on irrelevant variable including color, race, age, creed, gender, religion, wealth, national origin, or location

Poverty will not exist, and every woman and man will earn at least as much as it costs them to live unless they are progressing toward being self-sufficient and self-reliant. No adult will be under the care, custody, or control of another person, agency, or substance. All adult citizens will be self-sufficient and self-reliant as minimally indicated by their consumption being equal to or less than their production. This becomes the basis for defining a vision and mission statement that map out exactly how an organization, of any type, will add measurable value to society.

Kaufman’s models is argued to be the first model for business planning that makes the business case for social responsibility and that establishes a data-based construct for organizational planning and evaluation that goes beyond the walls of the organization.[8] Recent work by McKinsey & Co’s Ian Davis (the Economist, 2005) aligns with this concept. The model was developed over many years, and cross multiple countries and cultures, to validate the measures. Moore conducted a factor and reliability analysis of the construct, finding that all measures loaded onto a single factor (i.e. described a single concept), r=.95 (a notably high reliability).[9] Kaufman’s model has sometimes been referred to as “Kirkpatrick Plus” – an extension of Kirkpatrick‘s Four Levels of Evaluation[10] by adding Mega—societal value added as a fifth level. However, the debate over this is a rather long-standing one. Some practitioners in the field argue that the fifth level of evaluation is ROI, or “return on investment,” evaluation.[11] (ROI is still a measure of organizational performance internally, however, and does not measure what the impact of an organization is on society).

Examples / Case Studies of Applied Mega

At the Sonora Institute of Technology (ITSON) in Sonora, Mexico, Kaufman and colleagues have worked with the President of the Institute to create a certification, Master’s degree, and Ph.D. based on needs assessment and Mega planning. Students at the Ph.D. level must be working in a company or head of a company and must apply the Mega principles in a real-world project. Evidence of ITSON’s results were first described by Guerra and Rodriguez.[12] ITSON also set up a Performance Improvement Institute for applied R&D where there are currently 20 organizations applying Mega thinking and planning.

Another case study is a project for the president and minister of tourism of Panama taking a systemic approach using the Mega planning model to address issues of high crime, low standard of living, and other measures of social impact. Using the metaphor of “city doctors,” Bernardez, Vallarino, Krivatsy, and Kaufman (2012)[13] identified the “symptoms” of Colon City, Panama, developed a shared vision for Colon based on Kaufman’s Basic Ideal Vision, prioritized, and set goals for the major strategic indicators (such as security, job creation and employment, recovery of real estate values, increase in tourism revenue, and health and sanitation). The team then developed a systemic framework and visualized Colon City as a social ecosystem in order to align actions and make sure actions in each area were coordinated and sequenced with others to avoid conflicts and unwanted consequences (e.g. relocating squatters to places where they could not find jobs). Over a four-year period, at the Mega level, the effort demonstrated increased redevelopment, increased tourism, increased jobs (1,390 jobs in Year 1 and 12,900 new jobs over the 4-year period, 70% of which were permanent jobs thereby reducing unemployment), along with other positive impacts. At the Macro level, Colon City increased revenue from year to year across tourism, real estate, and waste management sectors.

Roger – on Matt Richter and Will Thalheimer’s Truth in Learning Podcast

That starts at about the 44:25 minute mark.

4 HPT Videos

I was lucky to have recorded these 4 video with Roger.





RIP Roger. Thank you for all of your contributions to Improving Performance!

You will be missed.

# # #

3 thoughts on “RIP Roger Kaufman

  1. I only met Roger a few times, and I don’t know him well. From my limited perspective, Roger wasn’t one to retire and do nothing. Rather, Roger was a model steward who shared his knowledge freely. He sincerely wanted others to benefit from his rich experiences through academics and practice. He will be missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Roger was a giant in our field. Plus, he shared so much with others, and he wanted the best for everyone. I always enjoyed knowing him. RIP, Roger. Condolences to Jan. Mega for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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