Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review of Thomas Gilberts Leisurely Theorems

Thomas Gilberts three Leisurely Theorems

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

The First leisurely theorem defines worthy performance (W) as the ratio of valuable accomplishments (A) to costly behavior (B).

OR W = A/B

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

We’re going to use this calculation to help determine which problems (performance gaps) have the most potential for improvement. When calculating the PiP, the larger the number, the more potential for improvement. This is going to come in handy when we combine it with Joe Harless’ Front End Analysis (FEA).

The Third leisurely theorem covers Gilberts 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). Just to clear things up, 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
When we combine these three components with the definition of behavior, we get something like this:

Components of Behavior

Environmental Supports
Repertory of Behavior

The following information is adapted from Table 3-4 Behavior Components of Gilbert (2007), page 88:


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


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

O Are there adequate financial incentives contingent upon performance?
O Have Nonmonetary incentives been made available?
O Are Career-Development opportunities available?


O Does everyone had the knowledge to perform the job?


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


O Is everyone motivated to perform their job?

I will talk more about how to use the BEM in a future post. Also, there's a fourth Leisurely Theorem that I will discuss in the future as well.


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

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