20 Interventions

Here's a textra game that encourages the participants to explore Human Performance Technology. The outcome of this game is the ability to recall and describe 20 different types of interventions for improving human performance.

In Human Performance Technology (HPT) jargon, an intervention is a strategy that improves the performance of an individual, team, or organization. To be effective, you choose an intervention that counteracts the root cause of a performance problem. For example, the most likely cause for your inability to read a fifth grade book in Tamil is your lack of skill and knowledge. The most appropriate intervention in this situation is training. You need to be trained on the basic knowledge of Tamil language and the skill of reading and understanding printed Tamil.

There are hundreds of different interventions and this activity helps you explore some of them. It is a combination of a textra game (in which the training content comes from text materials) and interactive fiction (which involves creating, sharing, and analyzing your own stories).


To recall and describe different interventions for improving human performance.

Any number.

Best: 20 to 40.

20 - 60 minutes.


  • Menu of 20 Interventions (one copy for each participant)
  • A glossary item related to each item (one item for each participant)
  • A Glossary of HPT Interventions (one copy of the complete glossary for each participant, distributed at the end of the activity)
  • Supplies
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Equipment
  • Countdown timer
  • Whistle

Brief the participants. Explain how interventions are selected, designed, and used in the human performance technology process. Identify a few interventions that most participants are familiar with. Stress the importance of becoming familiar with a wide variety of interventions to increase effectiveness in performance technology.

Distribute the Menu of 20 Interventions. Explain that this menu identifies 20 different interventions for improving human performance. Ask participants to scan the menu and check off interventions that they are familiar with.

Distribute glossary items. Randomly hand out one glossary item for each participant. If you have fewer than 20 participants, you will have some items left over; if you have more than 20 participants, some items will be given to more than one participant.

Ask participants to get ready. Ask them to read the glossary item given to them. Each participant should get ready to describe the intervention to someone else. Ask participants to underline key features of the intervention and to prepare an outline for their presentation. When ready, ask participants to roam around the room in search of another participant who is also ready.

Conduct the first exchange. Ask participants to pair up. In each pair, ask one of the participants to present the description of the intervention she studied. The other participant should listen enthusiastically, ask questions, and take notes. When completed, participants change roles: The presenter becomes the listener and vice versa. Warn participants that they will be required to share their partners' intervention with someone else during the next round.

Rewrite the story. When both participants have shared their interventions, ask them to reflect on what their partner told them. Ask each participant to identify the key features of the intervention and to prepare an outline for their presentation. When ready, ask participants to go in search of new partners.

Conduct additional exchanges. When they pair up with a new partner, ask participants to repeat the process of sharing the most recent intervention that they learned from their previous partner. When the sharing activity is completed, tell participants to recall the explanation they heard and go in search of new partners and share the latest interventions they learned.

Conclude the activity. After a suitable period of time, stop the conversations. Ask each participant to count the number of different interventions they have shared. Distribute the glossary that explains all 20 interventions. Encourage participants to study this handout at a later time and get themselves ready to learn more about different interventions.


Menu of 20 Interventions
Balanced scorecard
Culture change
Electronic performance support systems
Feedback system
Goal setting
Human factors
Job aids
Knowledge management
New hire orientation
Performance appraisal
Process redesign
Rewards and recognition
Salary and benefits
Team building


A Glossary of HPT Interventions

  • Assignment deals with the lack of alignment between performers and the tasks they are required to perform. This intervention involves placing round pegs in round holes by matching an employee's competencies with job requirements. The recent emphasis on strengths-based approaches suggests that jobs should be redesigned to leverage the talents of each employee, resulting in increased productivity and personal fulfillment.
  • Balanced scorecard compensates for the lack of useful feedback. This intervention uses a framework for linking objectives, activities, and metrics at all levels of the organization for managing the overall strategy. The scoreboard provides a comprehensive view of the organization's performance in terms of several key indicators such as customer satisfaction, growth, learning, innovation, and financial returns.
  • Coaching is an intervention that reduces the impact of performance problems due to lack of skills and knowledge. It may also be used to overcome a lack of motivation. In this intervention, one person improves the performance of another by questioning, collaborative goal setting, systematic observation, constructive feedback, and positive guidance.
  • Computerization is a key element in reducing inefficiencies in work processes. This intervention supplements (or replaces) human performers with hardware and software to obtain improved, reliable, and consistent results. Specifically, computerization makes use of the latest technology to process large amounts of information in a rapid and reliable fashion.
  • Culture change is an intervention that compensates for problems related to inappropriate values and dysfunctional social norms in an organization. This organization-wide intervention involves large numbers of people at different levels. It typically requires planning and redefining working relationships. Most culture change efforts incorporate future vision, whole-systems thinking, dissemination of information, participation of all employees, and continuous processing.
  • Electronic performance support systems (EPSS) reduce the impact of performance problems due to lack of resources and lack of skills and knowledge. This intervention is a computer or online resource that is similar to printed job aids. EPSS provide just-in-time, on-demand information, guidance, examples, and step-by-step instructions to improve job performance without the need for extensive training.
  • Feedback systems reduce performance problems due to lack of information. This intervention provides timely information about an employee's performance and its impact. Effective feedback should fit the type of performance and the preferences of the performer. Guidelines for improving the effectiveness of this intervention include these two key principles: Positive feedback (especially in a public setting) must be given soon after the performance in order to increase the frequency of the performance. Negative feedback (especially in a private setting) must be given as a piece of guidance immediately before the next opportunity to perform in order to increase the quality of performance.
  • Goal setting is an intervention that deals with the lack of information and motivation. This intervention features all employees giving inputs to the organization's mission and goals, and aligning the objectives at different levels with the organization's overall strategic aims. The results of goal setting include clearer understanding of the organization's goals and how each employee contributes to achieving them.
  • Human factors interventions compensate for the lack of appropriate tools and resources. These interventions use facts and principles from human physiology and cognition to design equipment in such a way as to improve the productivity and comfort level of performers. Facility design applies similar principles and procedures to design lighting, temperature control, ventilation, and furniture to improve human performance.
  • Job aids reduce the impact of lack of resources and lack of skills and knowledge. This intervention includes printed checklists, decision tables, recipes, directories, work sheets, glossaries, samples, and flowcharts that are available to remind, guide, and facilitate the performer during a work situation. Job aids decrease the need for training and memorization.
  • Knowledge management is an intervention that deals with the lack of skills, knowledge, and resources. This intervention involves creating, retrieving, and distributing organizational knowledge such as best practices. Computer data bases play a significant role in this intervention.
  • New hire orientation reduces the negative impact of unclear expectations. This intervention provides new employees with complete and uniform information about the company, its vision and mission, functions and policies, compensation and benefits, rules and standards, and work requirements and safety. The outcome of this intervention is an increase in the confidence, loyalty, trust, and productivity of the employees. Knowledge management is a critical element in creating effective learning organizations.
  • Performance appraisals reduce the impact of lack of feedback and unclear expectations. This intervention is an ongoing management process that includes defining and developing performance goals, designing appropriate measurement methods, and implementing the appraisal system. This intervention produces many positive outcomes including feedback, recognition, and career development.
  • Process redesign reduces problems associated with the use of inefficient procedures. This intervention begins the development of a map to graphically depict the current flow of work as a sequence of activities toward the achievement of organizational results. Beginning with the customer's requirements as the final output, a process map identifies different inputs, decisions, activities, and outputs. The map is than reviewed and analyzed to remove redundancies, superfluous activities, and delays so that high-quality outputs are obtained at a lesser cost and a faster rate.
  • Rewards and recognition are used in situations where human performance is negatively affected by lack of incentives. Typical recognition events include trophies, plaques, employee-of-the-month awards, announcements in the company newsletter, lunch with the president, certificates, personal notes from the CEO, gift certificates, and photographs on the bulletin board. Effective use of rewards and recognition require that they match with the achievement of business results and with the preferences of the performer.
  • Salary and benefits (also known as compensation systems) are used to handle performance problems due to lack of incentives. This intervention includes policies and procedures related to payment made by organizations to individual performers for their work-related achievements. In addition to direct salary payments, compensation systems may include insurance, pension, stock ownership, and other such benefits.
  • Selection is an intervention for reducing performance problems associated with misalignment of a performer with the required performance. This intervention involves gathering specific information about a candidate's past experiences and behaviors in such a way that they act as predictors of future performance. The process also involves ensuring that the candidate possesses the competencies required for achieving job-related goals.
  • Supervision is an intervention that reduces the impact of lack of information and feedback. Effective supervisors and managers are knowledgeable about the job functions they supervise. They establish clear goals and standards, assign responsibilities and authority, and provide guidance and feedback to those employees who report directly to them.
  • Team building is an intervention that compensates for the lack of efficiency in collaborative activities. This intervention increases the effectiveness of intact teams whose members regularly work together to achieve organizational goals. The process typically involves analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of a team, building on current strengths, reducing ineffective practices, and preparing a plan for ongoing team effectiveness. Guided by a facilitator, team-building activities involve clarifying the goal, specifying roles of different team members, providing mutual feedback, and increasing the levels of cohesiveness and trust.
  • Training is a familiar intervention designed to cope with performance problems caused by a lack of skills and knowledge. It is one of the most frequently used—and misused—interventions. There are several alternative approaches to training (such as accelerated learning, action learning, e-learning, on-the-job training, and experiential learning). Proven guidelines for effective training recommend active and interactive processes.