Can you tell me about the Culture Speaker and Affective Survey you developed?

speaker_headphones_pc_4517Everyone I have shown the human performance “Culture Speaker” to gets a little excited about the presentation and the theory in the background. They even get more excited and start asking a lot of questions about the survey I designed that supports the input to it. I promised colleagues I would share some if it one day, and this post is the culmination of a lot of work, and my commitment to those conversations.

What is the Culture Speaker?

The culture speaker is the physical manifestation from the results of an Affective Survey. I created it with one goal in mind: to explain in one simple to follow picture the results of education theory as it applies to your culture’s attitude toward your existing Human Performance Program. Using a “Likert Scale” and knowing that a program is made up from a finite number of elements, survey questions are tailored to surmise leadership and personnel attitudes towards human performance at the time the survey is administered.

Okay, so what the heck is an Affective Survey?

Adults learn in three realms: head, hands, and heart, otherwise known as, the Cognitive, Psycho-motor, and Affective realms. If you have been a long-time follower of this website, the Affective realm had a lot of research and development work done by Krathwohl, and I have mentioned him and this realm in previous posts. A lot of people I have spoken with about creation of learning objectives in training consider Benjamin Bloom as the father of all learning taxonomies, but he lords over the Cognitive realm, specifically, as far as I can tell, and NOT the Affective, also known as the “Attitude” realm.

My survey has been used both in commercial nuclear power and transmission and distribution companies. The amount of survey questions range from 25 to 125 depending on the areas of your program and what you are focusing on, and take anywhere from 10-45 minutes to complete. For example, with a nuclear plant, I administered the 125 question survey in October and November, determined focus areas, and then followed up 10 months later with a 25 question survey – only covering areas that the organization was strategically trying to improve from the baseline.

The survey dives into the taker’s attitude towards parts of the existing Human Performance Program, or lack thereof. Areas of focus can reveal themselves and it helps kick off your strategic plan by knowing what areas need immediate attention, and using leverage from areas already working well.

Survey says


This is what it looks like – a speaker with sound coming from the middle. The louder the sound, the more the culture values that element. Quickly translate the survey results data to see that certain areas in this culture need to be turned up, so the organization is all at the same high-level of value. This depiction shows at a glance that Work Observations are already valued at this company, but human performance training, performance indicators, and an effective reward program are in need of enhancement, if improvement in these areas is desired. The goal of this was to keep it simple to look at and understand, without revealing all the theory of why it’s such an accurate model of culture value.


How are you tracking your improvement in value towards your Human Performance Program? My guess is you aren’t at all. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that, yet. The best metrics in my opinion measure the strength of your event prevention defenses, and anything that helps you understand how the program is working and what areas are being valued or not. This is an avenue to help measure a baseline and any improvement that the organization attempts, and then to come back again after a certain amount of corrective actions have been put in place to see if things are actually changing.

Quick side note

If you are wondering (and you probably aren’t) why I would give this proprietary idea away to friends, colleagues, and competitors, I really don’t see it that way. My mission is to help companies have less events, and my profession has people that can be a major part of that goal. Some of us have a hard time figuring out where to start an assessment, and this gem is an awesome place to start. Also, I should point out for my own interests, the sanctity of the actual question content, and the theory behind how they transfer into the culture speaker are still protected.

Helpful Links:

How to create a Likert Scale

How to score a Likert test

Affective Context

Note for first-time visitors

I truly appreciate you stopping by and please don’t forget to click on the pictures… any picture in any post will always take you somewhere worthy, and usually to an applicable video.

14 Best practices of a conference poster presenter


Now you are a “poster presenter” – not only are you an attendee at a conference, but you have taken the time to put together a “call for posters” reply and it was accepted. First of all, congratulations for getting your thoughts and body of research in front of a peer audience! This most likely included an abstract and information about you and your background.

So, now what? What comes next? If you’ve never done this, the process can be very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Identifying the constraints and limits of what you’re allowed to put together should be clear up front by the conference presenters. This process could basically be called a science fair for adults, and yes, your poster needs to rock with a market strategy if anyone is going to take a moment to check it out and care about it.

The following is a list of tips for the amateur or expert poster presenter to consider when putting a poster together.



Tip #1: Abstracts should contain something the conference audience would care about, not just the poster presenter.


  • Purpose
  • Introduction
  • Motivation
  • Problem Statement
  • Approach
  • Results
  • Conclusion

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then your poster idea probably isn’t ready for your audience:

  • Why do we care about this problem?
  • What are you doing about it?
  • What was the result?
  • What are the implications?
  • How are you using this data learned?
Tip #2: Find the best software to meet your needs.

Figure out how big your poster needs to be and the best software to use to make it. MS Power Point works very well if you find a template. You have to zoom in to work on the design elements, but the product looks great when put together properly.

Tip #3: Plan your printer ahead of time.

Know where you’re going to have your poster printed. Use a great paper quality, and you probably should forgo lamination so you can roll it up for travel.

Tip #4: Plan your backing board.

Find out if they will be supplying backing board, and if not, purchase the backing board and have it delivered to the hotel where you are staying. Sometimes, conferences will give you some wall space, but you don’t want to be that person who looks unprepared.

Tip #5: Plan how you will attach the poster to the backing board.

Purchase backing board velcro tabs that stick one side to the other. Put them on the backing board first and use a friend to lay the poster on top and slowly rest your poster on top. Do not remove your poster until after the conference. You can roll up the poster and leave the tabs on for reuse if desired.

Tip #6: Know how you will travel with your poster.

Chances are that you may be on an airplane to get to the conference, so this is a definite consideration. Don’t forget to purchase a poster tube for travel! Plastic ones (approx. $25 from amazon for one that also telescopes for larger sizes) protect more against elements, and often come with a strap, which makes it easier for travel, as well.

Tip #7: Know how your poster will be displayed.

Easel stability matters. Find out if the conference location will be providing easels or purchase a collapsible one that is easy to travel with for about $16 from Amazon. I thought adding brochures and business cards to one of the legs under the poster would be a great way for people to literally take something away from the poster.

Tip # 8: Choose great eye-catching colors and stick to a theme.

If you’re supporting a school or college, considering using their colors. If it’s a business, consider playing off of the logo colors.

Tip #9: Use friendly fonts, and please not too many different ones.

Nothing appeals less to a poster visitor than blurry content, or something you cannot read.

Tip #10: Font sizes matter.

How far back from your poster should average vision people be able to read your large content or your smallest text? Consider this when creating text space on your poster.

Tip # 11: Use graphs and pictures to illustrate points.

People are visual and thats what a poster should be! If it doesn’t appeal to you and your friends, then why would it appeal to anyone else?

Tip #12: Be bold and make your poster interactive

QR Codes are pretty fun to play with and send poster viewers to a website or survey. You could be even more amazing (if your crowd was a little tech-savvy) and you directed them to download a free Augmented Reality (AR) App and have parts of your poster come alive! This may require some extra funding on your end, but AR is DEFINITELY coming!

Tip #13: Stand next to your poster so you can discuss it with visitors

This may not always be possible, but at conference break times and when people are up and looking at posters, try to be there to answer questions and show how committed you are to the content.

Tip #14: Do research on YouTube

There are tons of video ideas that will spark your creativity and help you get the most effective message across to your visitors.


Best of luck on your project, and feel free to send a picture of your poster! Here’s a recent pic from a Center for Patient Safety Conference in St. Louis, MO, of a poster depicting the research Dr. Klein and I have been doing.

Note the QR codes, brochures and business cards.


Human Performance Tool Spotlight: OOPS – Outside Of Procedure, Parameters, or Process – STOP

hands_time_out_signal_15943Holy cow, a Human Performance tool called, “OOPS?” Well, not really. It’s only an addition (or interpretation) to Stop When Unsure and Questioning Attitude. Using a Questioning Attitude (holding off on my argument that SWU and QA are not even tools at all, because these should be used all the time, and tools only when they matter the most) while performing work and you find a reading or situation off normal, STOP. This seems pretty simple and to the point. Staying engaged and thinking about the work.

So, let’s evaluate OOPS and why it’s possibly more effective than Stop When Unsure. The keyword being “Unsure” – it sounds like the worker doesn’t know what they’re doing – lacking training or knowledge to perform the task. This sounds accusatory and perhaps even with a little blame. What I’ve come to learn about people and Human Performance Programs are that words matter, and more people participate in a Good Catch program, than in a Near Miss one… even if the rules and avenues of capturing them are identical. We humans are a fickle bunch.

So, do workers have the authority to STOP work?

Every place I’ve ever been or interacted with, people have told me that they don’t always have this authority, yet one hundred percent of leadership team members I’ve spoken with have told me that everyone has the right to STOP work to resolve safety or potential Human Performance issues. If you are a leader, make it clear to your workforce that they have this authority and you expect them to use it. I am positive there is a disconnect in some companies on this point.

What is a Time Out?

Some workers and leadership team members do not like this verbiage, because it sounds childish. [Suggestion from a friend on LinkedIn: Jeffrey Meade, P.Eng. re: Time Out… If you use this, present it with sports imagery to remove the childish/punishment vibe.] Call it whatever you want, but make sure the job stops to get issues resolved. This is where the performance improvement happens. No need to rush through and get something wrong, or hurt someone. Here is the description:

  • A time out is a brief stoppage of work to allow workers, their supervisor, or other knowledgeable persons to discuss and resolve the issue(s) such as uncertainty, doubt, confusion, or if questions persist before resuming the task.
  • Every person has the responsibility and authority to STOP work when uncertainty exists, even if it seems simple and straightforward.
  • Once the issue(s) have been resolved satisfactorily, it seems most pertinent if the person that called for a time out should be the one to then call time in so work may resume.
When to STOP

–When encountering conditions inconsistent with procedures

–When outside bounds of key parameters

–If conditions are different than expected from your pre-job brief

–When inexperienced or lacking knowledge of task

–When uncertain or confused

–If beyond scope of the plan or process

–When unexpected results or unfamiliar situations are encountered

–When something expected does not happen

–When someone else expresses doubt or concern

How to STOP

If you find yourself Outside of Procedures, Parameters or Processes – STOP – and CONTACT your supervisor. Errors can be prevented by properly using written procedures. OOPS is a strong method that can be used effectively to prevent errors due to proceeding in the face of uncertainty.

From this point on I’m going to share some nuclear procedure “Stop Work Criteria” which involves when to stop, the leadership approved response, and when to start work back up. This may seem like overkill, but when trying to explain this in a very regulated world, this helps it all make sense and also protects the sanctity of the worker’s authority to stop any job.

Stop Work Criteria:

Stop work and contact supervision whenever a stop work criteria condition is encountered. There are any number of things that should cause one to stop work and get help from supervision. The following are (a long list of) examples:

Job surrounding issues:

  • Unusual noise, smell, heat; insufficient lighting, etc.
  • Unexpected job hazard is present
  • Unexpected configuration control bumping hazards are present

As-found equipment conditions:

  • Components are not in expected condition
  • Component labels are not applied or are confusing
  • Component label does not match controlling document (ie: clearance,
  • EDT/EST or Danger Card on equipment to be tested/worked on
  • Work can not be performed as planned/briefed
  • Deficiencies are found in WO package (or instructions are unclear)
  • Procedure can not be followed as written
  • Plant drawings and components disagree

Work performance issues:

  • Unanticipated energy (pressure, voltage, etc.) is encountered
  • Equipment does not respond as expected
  • Loss of pre-established communications
  • Unusual component wear, FME, etc., is observed
  • Need for expanded scope or manpower is identified
  • Test equipment, tooling, parts, etc., do not perform as expected
  • Deficiency identified during rounds on safety-related components

Changes occurring during work performance:

  • Plant/radiological changes in the vicinity of the job
  • Audio/visual alarms (Emergency Plan, Area/Plant Fire)

Event occurrence:

  • Mispositioning of a component
  • Clearance process issue
  • Spill or significant housekeeping issue
  • Vehicle accident
  • Injury
  • PMT performance issue
  • PMT cannot be performed as specified
  • Insufficient resources (including required observers)

Any time you find yourself outside of process or procedure (OOPS) or are uncertain

Supervisory Response:

The following guidance outlines expected actions for supervisors to help ensure an effective response to an OOPS notification.

Thank the individual for stopping work to ask for your help. Questioning attitude and involving supervision are two keys to preventing events should be positively reinforced.

Ask the individual:

  • How did you discover the condition?
  • Why did the condition occur? (Clarify goals)
  • What does your controlling document state? Show me the document.
  • What is your recommendation?

Ask yourself:

  • Does the documentation need to be changed?
  • What expertise do I need to help the condition? (Eng, Maint, etc.)
  • Do I need to use the Operations Decision making model?
  • If there is an equipment deficiency, should we just stop and get it fixed?
  • Am I too close to the issue?
  • What is my recommendation? Who will challenge me? (peer or SM)
  • Do we need to stop and re-brief?
  • Where will we document this?
  • Are my standards high enough?

Consider positive reinforcement for the individual. It is important to reward the behavior of stopping if you want it to happen again. The positive reinforcement can offset the negative reinforcement of having to do more work to ensure events are prevented.

Resuming Work:

Work/testing should not resume until authorized by supervision, which shall ensure the following:

  • Any job surrounding issues have been corrected or addressed. Noise, heat, etc., issues explained satisfactorily and/or corrected. Bumping hazards removed or compensated for.
  • Components which are not in expected condition (or which contain EDT/ESTs) are dispositioned by Operations. New labels are applied. Component label or controlling document is corrected, or supervision has approved continuing with work activity.
  • WO’s, procedures, drawings are corrected/clarified.
  • Clearance is addressed as necessary. Operations/Engineering dispositions unusual equipment response, wear, or out-of-spec conditions, etc. Communications systems are corrected. Test equipment, tooling, parts issues are addressed. Work Management/Planning is notified of expanded work scope/manpower needs.
  • Plant condition/radiological condition changes are reviewed with Operations/RP, and work is re-authorized/re-briefed, as required.
  • Immediate help is acquired, as needed. Management is notified. IR’s generated. Department head approval is obtained before resumption of task.
  • PMT is corrected. All specified resources required to satisfy PMT requirements are on hand.
  • All other open-ended issues related to the concern are addressed.

I dug into some of my archived old Human Performance nuclear procedures and some of the training I’ve put together over the years to develop this post with no particular reference to anywhere other than commercial nuclear industry procedures. Thank you.

Click here for a pretty amazing safety video I found while doing research for this post. 

Click here for a video on Stop Work Authority.

Click here for another video on Stop Work Authority.

Human Performance Tool Spotlight: Procedure Use and Adherence

spiral_binders_16359Procedure Use and Adherence is really two tools in one – Sticking to the procedure and how you use it are the key factors here. Working on the wrong revision, losing your place, or not following up to see if there is a procedure to perform the task you are doing are just three examples of the many different kinds of mistakes that can be made. A lot of issues can be prevented by finding the correct procedure (meaning the proper revision) and then following it with an “engaged” mind… which means not blindly going step by step (ala cook-booking). Unfortunately, some people are being trained to perform procedures, and don’t fully understand the mission or the equipment that they are either fixing, testing, or simply making sure works properly. Your mind must remain thoughtful throughout the evolution to comprehend what the procedure steps are trying to accomplish. Only then can you recognize when something is going wrong. Along with this tool (in another post), there will be a discussion on a situational awareness questioning attitude tool called “OOPS” – Out Of Process or Parameters, which can be directly applied when performing a procedure. It’s just another mechanism to get you to stop the job and regroup.

So ask yourself – why do we need procedures in the first place?


Procedures help users to perform activities correctly, safely, consistently, and in accordance with design requirements. Procedures direct people’s actions in a proper sequence and minimize reliance on one’s memory and the choices made in the field. When workers are forced to interpret a procedure’s use and applicability, the chance for error is increased.

Procedure use specifies the minimum required references to the procedure during the performance of a task, such as continuous use (in-hand), reference use, and information use. This really speaks to how one uses the procedure. Are you continuously referring to it in hand, constantly and methodically checking through each step at the job site, or is it a procedure of how to do something that only occasionally needs to be referred? These are the different ways to “use” a procedure. At nuclear stations these are denoted as “levels of use” and come in 4 varieties:

  1. Information (could be on hand, or in the library)
  2. Reference (at the job site)
  3. Continuous (in hand)
  4. Multi-Level (sections of the procedure are a combination of the above levels)

Procedure adherence means following the intent and direction provided in the procedure regardless of the level of use.

Procedures incorporate the policies, operating experience (lessons learned), effective work practices and management decisions about how a task is to be performed. Technical procedures are written to direct desired behavior for the various complex and technical work activities that will affect plant equipment. However, experience has shown that technical procedures may not always contain sufficient information for the user. With turnover of the workforce, less experienced workers take the place of more experienced personnel. The quality of the procedure (technical content and usability) is paramount, especially if the task involves risk, significant systems or components. Therefore, feedback from the user on the quality of procedures and work orders is highly desired. This feedback is most appropriately shared at a post-job critique, unless the procedure quality was such that it could not be performed as written, and then the task would need to stop and the procedure updated immediately before continuing. Note that this is in a highly regulated environment, and may not apply to all types of work involving procedures.

When to use the tool

Procedures are to be used for activities that involve manipulation, monitoring, or analysis of equipment or physical work.

How to use the tool
  1. Verify the procedure being used is the correct revision. Procedures are corrected and approved before use.
  2. Review all Prerequisites, Limits, Precautions, and Initial Conditions before starting work.
  3. An effective place-keeping method is used for procedures that do not require sign-offs. At least, initial or check each step complete, after the action is performed, before proceeding with the next step. (Place-keeping is another branch of this tool and will be discussed in another post.)
  4. Procedures shall be followed as written without deviating from the original intent and purpose.
  5. Do not deviate from the sequence of steps, unless approved.
  6. Do not ‘N/A’ any step, unless approved.
  7. If a procedure is incorrect, will result in damage to equipment if used as written, cannot be performed as written, will result in incorrect parameters or configuration, or is otherwise unsafe, then STOP the task and contact a supervisor.
  8. If desired or anticipated results are not achieved, STOP, do not proceed, and contact a supervisor.
At-risk behaviors to avoid
  • Assuming a procedure is well-written and accurate
  • Cook-booking a step or procedure (blind compliance) without understanding its purpose
  • Performing a task without knowing or understanding critical steps in advance
  • Believing in the philosophy that, “Any operator worth his/her salt doesn’t need a procedure.”
  • Skipping steps or segments of a “routine” procedure, since those steps have been unnecessary in the past
  • Not rigorously following a procedure because of personal past success with the task
  • Interpreting the procedure in a way that knowingly does not meet the intent
  • Commencing a procedure without establishing initial conditions required by the procedure
  • Using a procedure maliciously, knowing it has flaws
  • Not reviewing an unfamiliar procedure (or lacks proficiency) before performing a task
  • Using a previous revision (superseded) of a procedure
  • Marking steps “N/A” for those that are inadequately or improperly written
  • Not submitting feedback on procedure problems (technical accuracy and usability)
  • Not applying some form of place-keeping for continuous use procedures
  • Using check marks instead of initials or signatures for continuous use procedures, unless the procedure specifically allows it
  • Ditto marks (“)
  • One set of initials followed with a line through remaining signoff blanks
  • Signing off a step as completed before it is complete

With much gratitude, a lot of the above HPT basis comes from Department of Energy (DOE) and Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) research and collaboration, and the source document could be found by clicking here.

This article (you would have to purchase – sorry, it’s not free to share) adds some more specificity to the discussion : Engaging Workers as the Best Defense Against Errors & Error Precursors by Jan K. Wachter and Patrick L. Yorio

Me. I’ve inserted a few twists and clarifications for users and myself.

[As a reminder – don’t forget to click the graphic at the top of each post for an Easter egg!]

Are you looking for a job in Human Performance? Here’s one to consider:

desk_hand_shake2_pc_400_clr_4231I had a brilliant discussion today with a recruiter looking to fill a human performance position in Arizona. After hearing about the position, I thought it would be a win-win to share the opportunity with the Human Performance Toolbox community! So, I asked Lonny to share the opportunity electronically and if he’d like me to advertise it, and he enthusiastically agreed that this was a good idea. Good luck, and tell him where you found the ad, please!

Here is the opportunity:

I am currently partnering on a retained search for one of Arizona’s biggest and most sought out employers. They have me recruiting for a Human Performance Manager/Consultant (brand new position).

And am available to talk on the phone 24/7 by cell – 858-602-2880
And office Line – 602-306-4473
EMAIL: Ill get back to you within the hour

POSITION: Human Performance Manager/Consultant
PAY: 90-95k but very open to more for the right candidate – Could be more and relocation assistance provided
DURATION: Direct Hire (this is a full time perm position)
BENEFITS: Great Benefits
· Responsible for helping to lead the effective integration of Human Performance (HP) to Operations and Corporate Resources departments

· They use the Rob Fisher Methods

· SOFTWARE: devonway software (NOT REQUIRED)

· Provide strategic, proactive HP consulting services to all levels of leadership to anchor and further integrate HP throughout the company including identification and execution of tailored approaches that address needed areas of improvement.

· Develop and lead a standardized HP Program across the enterprise ensuring continuity and sustainability of the program.

· Provide on-going HP training to business units. Partner and coordinate with Corporate Training & Development and business unit training functions to ensure consistent and timely delivery of training products including the development of ne w training and resources as needed.

· Work with CAP team to analyze data, identify HP trends and provide guidance

Lonny Miller
Senior Vice President

Accounting & Finance Professionals Inc.
Staff Logic Inc.

Certified City of Phoenix SBE, WBE, DBE
410 N 44th Street Ste #145
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Phone: (602) 306-4473 (HIRE)
Fax: (602) 306-4474

Connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking here

2013 Ranking Arizona -#1 in Direct Hire Placement
2014 Ranking Arizona -#1 in Direct Hire Placement
2015 Ranking Arizona -#1 in Direct Hire Placement
2016 Ranking Arizona -#1 in Direct Hire Placement

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