Human Performance Technology (HPT) is all about identifying and meeting performance needs.
Because of this, I typically first think in terms of performance. What do people need to be able to do? Why aren’t they doing it already?
If people aren’t doing something because they lack the knowledge or skills to do it, then I put on my Instructional Systems Design (ISD) hat and figure out what the learning needs are and how we can best go about meeting them.
However, a great many times people aren’t doing things correctly because of forces that have nothing to do with learning. Are there unintended consequences (often in the form of unaccounted punishments for performance) that make actually performing the tasks undesirable? Are there forces in the environment (that flickering fluorescent light bulb, the arctic temperature in the classroom, that one defiant stakeholder – or group of stakeholders) that are making proposed changes or performance improvements difficult?
As long as people aren’t just whining, I love listening to people talk about their problems. That may sound weird, but it’s because I know that’s one of the best places to find true opportunities for improvement.
Additionally, there are some tasks that better fall in the realm of HPT as compared to ISD. For example, I have been involved with Front-End Analyses (FEAs), and I have conducted formal evaluations of existing training (using the Accomplishment Based Curriculum Development [ABCD] method) while serving as a performance analyst.
My views on HPT are informed by the research and practice of Robert E. Mager and Peter Pipe. I also pay careful attention to whatever awesome stuff matriculates from the mind of Guy Wallace.