The Six Boxes Approach, and our decades of work leading up to it, have been inspired and informed by countless mentors, colleagues, clients, and students. While the list of those who have inspired us is longer than we can possibly include here, we believe very strongly in giving credit where credit is due and in passing on what has been given to us. In that spirit, here is a short list of some professional mentors and friends who have inspired us over the years.
B. F. Skinner
From the time, as a sophomore in college, that Carl received a personal note from him in response to an enthusiastic letter, Dr. Skinner has inspired a life-long commitment to making a difference in human happiness and productivity through application of the natural science of behavior that Dr. Skinner, himself, originated. Carl had the honor of studying with Dr. Skinner while a doctoral student at Harvard, helping to edit his book, About Behaviorism, and pursuing a career based on bringing the fruits of behavior science into practical application. For a balanced and insightful biography of this great man, read Daniel W. Bjork's B.F. Skinner: A Life.
BeaTrice H. Barrett
Dr. Bea Barrett was a pioneer in basic behavior science and its application to human affairs, and an extraordinarily multifaceted human being. Carl spent 10 years (1973-82) as Associate Director of her laboratory and classroom research program at the beginning of his career, having been directed there by Dr. Skinner with whom Barrett had completed a postdoctoral fellowship. She instilled in Carl a commitment to rigorous scientific method and measurement, opened up countless doors of insight and opportunities to learn for aspiring young scientists and practitioners, and inspired Carl plus many others to believe that we can improve the quality of human life with a technology of teaching based on Skinner's science of behavior. When she passed away, she left a legacy of research and an endowment for the B.H. Barrett Program for Neuro-Operant Research at the University of North Texas, an extensive modern art collection to the DeCordova Museum, and contributions to the Boston Ballet and multiple environmental causes. An inspiring mentor, great scientist, and pioneer in a field which was at the time mostly a "man's world," Bea was Carl's professional "mother" beyond compare.
Ogden R. Lindsley
Dr. Og Lindsley, a pioneer in both basic and applied behavior research, inspired Carl's early laboratory research, served as a lifelong mentor, and influenced most elements of our instructional and performance measurement work . It was Lindsley's influence that moved Carl from the field of education into corporate performance consulting in the late 1970s, and that led to our integration of the Performance Chain with performance measurement concepts and tools. Og Lindsley's impact on our work, and on the work and lives of many thousands of others, continues to inspire long after his passing.
Dr. Henry S. Pennypacker has been a friend, mentor, and inspiration to us and countless others for over 30 years. As a scientist, humanitarian, businessperson, and leader, he is remarkably effective. His encouragement to “buy in without selling out” when he served as President of the International Association of Behavior Analysis moved Carl to start his first consulting firm, Precision Teaching and Management Systems, Inc. As a University Professor, CEO of MammaCare, the research-based public company devoted to early detection of breast cancer, and Chairman of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, Hank has set an example for those of us trained in behavior science, committed to making a positive impact on the world. We thank him for his continued friendship and wise counsel over the years.
Thomas F. Gilbert
Dr. Tom Gilbert helped bring Skinner's natural science of behavior into "the world of work" as he called it. Gilbert, who befriended and mentored Carl during the formative years of his career as a performance consultant, was a brilliant iconoclast and rabble-rouser whose book, Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance, is one of the most widely cited in the field of human performance improvement. We credit Gilbert for the concepts embodied in our Six Boxes Model and Performance Chain which emerged from our efforts during the 1980s to make Gilbert's work more easily communicable to business stakeholders and managers. We doubt, by the way, that Tom would have been as inspiring to us or to others had it not been for the tireless editing and ghost co-authorship of his wife and partner, Marilyn Gilbert, who lives just a few miles from us now, on Bainbridge Island.
Robert E. Horn
Bob Horn is our friend and mentor, a unique intellect and personality whose contributions in multiple fields have inspired us and thousands of others around the world. We first met Bob in the early 1980s after learning about his Information Mapping Method, for which he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and the International Society for Performance Improvement. Bob's work analyzing, organizing, and presenting information both verbal and visual stems from his participation in the early days of systems analysis and instructional design. Rather than pursuing instructional design and performance improvement per se, Bob followed his own unique path by virtually creating the field of structured writing. Over the years, our periodic lunches and wide-ranging conversations, and his work deconstructing messy problems such as global climate change and storage of radioactive waste using enormous visual displays of information, have been inspiring, both because of his commitment to making a difference and his capacity for synthesizing and clarifying enormous and diverse volumes of information. The Information Mapping method remains one of our most important performance thinking tools, Bob's legacy to over 300,00 users to date.
Joseph H. Harless
Dr. Joe Harless was a protege of Tom Gilbert who brought Gilbert's concepts into practical, replicable application through flawless instructional design and job aids. He was one of the most successful pioneers of systematic and systemic performance improvement, and through his brilliance and personal charm influenced countless individuals and organizations during the evolution of Human Performance Technology and the International Society for Performance Improvement. As a mentor and friend, Joe introduced us to a graphic model that morphed into the Performance Chain, and for decades led the way showing his colleagues how to make research-based human performance technology into a successful business while producing dramatic improvements in individual and organizational results. Joe continues as an inspiration in his retirement projects that involve helping to improve schools and public institutions, finally getting back to the revolution that he and Tom Gilbert envisioned in the early days.
Tom Hogan, a wise and practical sales and marketing executive at Dun and Bradstreet during the 1990s, gave us the name for the Six Boxes Model. At the time, we were working with him to develop a group of sales managers, teaching them to be field-based sales performance consultants. The model, which had by that time differentiated itself from its predecessor, Gilbert's Behavior Engineering Model, did not yet have a good name. Tom said, simply, "You guys are always talking about all those boxes. Why don't you just call it The Six Boxes?" We did, and it stuck. The plain language of the model and its name have driven us since that time to make our work more and more accessible to anyone and everyone by using simple graphics, plain English, and straightforward logic. Tom died prematurely, from a heart attack after a great round of golf. But he left a legacy of friends and colleagues who loved him, and practical advice that inspired future evolution of The Six Boxes Approach.
Eric C. Haughton
Dr. Eric Haughton taught us about behavioral fluency and fluent performance, extending the measurement discoveries of his mentors, B. F. Skinner and Ogden Lindsley. His groundbreaking work with teachers and children, starting in the 1960s, helped create the field of Precision Teaching, from which sprang our first consulting firm in 1982, Precision Teaching & Management Systems, Inc., and more recently, The Fluency Project, Inc., a not-for-profit organization. Eric's definition of fluency as accuracy plus speed provided the missing time dimension for measuring true mastery of skills and knowledge (box 4). His contributions gave us the keys for building fluent performance and producing huge improvements in learning and teaching effectiveness. His personal warmth and charisma inspired us to devote our lives to helping others through the application of behavior science.
Elizabeth Haughton, partner of Eric Haughton until his untimely passing in 1985, has inspired us since the early 1970s with a rare degree of sensitivity to people combined with a reliance on precise behavior measurement and systematic instruction to serve the individual needs of learners who have come to her for help. She is also the ultimate, intrepid experimentalist when it comes to creative application of new tools, techniques, and methods, ready at any moment to try stuff, but always subject to the validation of performance measurement. Elementary school teacher and tutor, consultant, adult trainer, trusted advisor, and dear friend, Elizabeth continues her work in the Haughton Learning center, where she has touched the lives of thousands of professionals, children and their families -- including our own. Elizabeth inspires us with the depth of her human commitment and the devotion of her life to helping people, based on science plus a very big heart.
Geary Rummler was an inspiration, as much by his personal demeanor and relentless pursuit of perfection in the analysis of organizational performance as as by any of his specific contributions, which were remarkable. He taught us to recognize the importance of cross-functional procesess in organizations and beware of analyses or measurements that ignore them -- since it is the major cross-functional processes that deliver value to customers. He reminded us that vertically cascading measurement systems can fortify functional silos, already a problem in most organizations, unless we explicitly include cross-functional process maps and metrics in our analyses. A few weeks before his untimely passing, Carl had the great fortune to spend a last few minutes with Geary, a delightful personal and professional experience as always. His wry smile, incisive comments, and periodic jabs at conventional thinking combined with a characteristic alertness and care to make him one of our most unforgettable characters and inspirations.
Dr. Don Tosti has inspired our work by providing some of its important models and tools. A pioneer in the application of behavior science since the 1960s, Don shares our view that performance improvement should be design engineering, not merely problem-solving or gap-filling. In other words, we can optimize and tune performance systems, not merely fix them when broken. We are especially indebted to Don for introducing us to the Energy-Investment Model, which has become one of our primary vehicles for discussing with leaders and managers the impact of properly managing and aligning boxes 1-5 on attitude in box 6 of the Six Boxes Model; and together with his long-time colleague, Stephanie Jackson, for teaching us about the analysis of culture into values, practices, and behavior. Don has always been an inspiration because of his endless creativity, integration of business and scientific concepts, and willingness to freely share his ideas.
Dr. Roger Kaufman, one of the pioneers of human performance technology, whose charm is only matched by his integrity and candor, inspires us because of his insistence on always taking the biggest possible view. He has been a major influence on our understanding of strategic planning, needs analysis, and the alignment of organizational values and goals. In particular, his description of levels of planning and goal-setting, from micro (individual and team) to macro (organizational) to mega (societal), makes clear how the best leaders align goals for their people, and for the organization as a whole, with goals that contribute to societal benefit. Roger has been talking about mega-planning and the alignment of organizational strategy with societal benefit for decades, but only now are we beginning to see this practice emerging with any prominence in some of the world's largest corporations. Roger inspires us with his commitment to making a difference and his unrelenting demand that leaders and senior managers always keep mega as part of their planning process.