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Gilbert's Leisurely Theorems

Page history last edited by bbraine1@gsu.student.edu 10 years, 2 months ago

Thomas Gilbert the "Father of Human Performance Technology," published a book in 1974 titled "Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance" about the nature of human competence which he calls the "Leisurely Theorems." Leisure being a synonym for human capital which is the product of time and opportunity. Basically, after leisure, there is performance, before performance there is leisure.


The book describes a behavioral engineering model for performance improvement. Gilbert defines performance as the “accomplishments” of a particular behavior, not the behavior itself. He discusses how workplace results are what count, not the activities that get us there. Gilbert also inaugurates gap analysis which is the analysis of the “performance improvement potential” (PIP) of an individual as the difference between exemplary and average performers. Thomas Gilbert contributed to the HPT field viewing the performance gap as a potential for performance improvement rather than as a problem.


Gilbert stated, "When we make judgments about the competence of human conduct, we often look at performance from the wrong vantage point." A vantage point is like a microscopic lens with its different magnifications. A look at performance can be seen similarly by looking at a performer's strengths and weaknesses in detail.


First Leisurley Therom: Understand the meaning of worthy performance.

In order to understand if performance was worthy, we must understand the difference between accomplishment and behavior. A sale is an accomplishment; the behavior is the actions before the sale. Worthy performance is a function of the ratio of expected changes in accomplishment to the needed changes in behavior. Human competence is a function of worthy performance (W), which is measured by the ratio of valuable accomplishments (A) to costly behavior (B). That is, W = A/B


Second Leisurely Theorem: Compare exemplary performers to typical performers and analyze the gap (potential for improved performance).

Typical competence is inversely proportional to the performance improvement potential (PIP). The PIP is the ratio of exemplary performance to typical performance. The ratio must be stated for an identifiable accomplishment -- there is no general quality of "competence." That is, PIP = W(e)/W(t)

Performance is considered unworthy when the result is greater than 1. When that happens, the costs to achieve worthy performance outweigh the benefits.

The Second leisurely theorem covers the Potential for Improving Performance (PIP).
PiP is equal to the ratio of exemplary performance (Wex) to typical performance (Wt).

OR PiP = Wex / Wt


The potential for improving performance (pip) is the ratio of the exemplary performance to typical performance.

Thomas Gilbert developed a set of “leisurely theorems” that pertain to improving performance.


Third Leisurely Theorem: Diagnose areas where performance deficiencies are found and determine how to produce worthy performance.

For any accomplishment, a deficiency in performance always has an immediate cause in a deficiency in the performer's behavior repertory (P), or a deficiency in the environment supporting the repertory (E), or both. The ultimate cause is always a deficiency in the management system (M). That is, W = A/B = A/(P + E + M).


The Third leisurely theorem covers Gilbert's Behavior Engineering Model. First, we must understand the components of behavior. Behavior (B) is equal to a person’s repertory of behavior (P) modified by their supportive (working) environment (E). Gilbert (2007) defines behavioral repertories as “part of their personal characteristics, those they bring to their jobs” (Gilbert, 1996, p. 75).

OR B = P + E

Gilbert also states that there are three components of behavior:

1. Information telling the person what to do
2. The persons response
3. The way the persons responses are reinforced


It takes more than a new instrument or new skills to improve performance: there are six components that are necessary for behavior to occur: three of them are environmental supports and the other three are performer’s repertory of behavior.


Gilbert sees all of the six components as necessary to cause a behavior. That is, B=P+E


Components of Behavior
  Information Instrumentation Motivation
Environmental Supports Data Instruments Incentives
Repertory of Behavior Knowledge Capacity Motives

-Does everyone know what they need to know?
-Does everyone know what is expected of them?
-Are there clear and relevant guides to adequate performance?

-Are the tools and materials of work designed scientifically to match human factors?

-Are there adequate financial incentives contingent upon performance?
-Have Nonmonetary incentives been made available?
-Are career development opportunities available?

-Does everyone had the knowledge to perform the job?

-Is everyone physically and mentally capable of performing the job?
-Is everyone prepared to do the job?

-Is everyone motivated to perform their job?


Fourth Leisurely Theorem: Develop a systematic perspective on evaluation the value of accomplishment.

Gilbert, T. (2007). Human competence: Engineering worthy performance (Tribute edition). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.Gilbert, T. (2007). Human competence: Engineering 



Foundations of Instructional Performance Technology - Google Books Result 

books.google.com/books?isbn=1599961369...Seung Youn Chyung - 2008 - Business & Economics - 169 pages

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