Tom Gilbert, the "Father of Human Performance Technology," published a book in 1974 titled Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performnance. This (in my opinion) belongs on the shelf of every instructional designer. In it, Gilbert defines performance as the accomplishments we value. He then goes on to lay out four "Leisurely Theorems" that are at the heart of what we do.
I wonder whether we should look again at the Leisurely Theorems, in light of changes in the environment over the last forty years. How much has technology, and the possibility of global collaboration without traditional management structures driving things, affected "worthy performance"?
Here are Gilbert's Leisurely Theorems:
First Leisurely Theorem: Human competence is a function of worthy performance (W), which is measured by the ratio of valuable accomplishments (A) to costly behavior (B). That is, W = A/B
Second Leisurely Theorem: Typical competence is inversely proportional to the performance improvement potential (PIP). The PIP is the ratio of exemplary performance to typical performance. The ratio must be stated for an identifiable accomplishment -- there is no general quality of "competence." That is, PIP = W(e)/W(t)
Third Leisurely Theorem: For any accomplishment, a deficiency in performance always has an immediate cause in a deficiency in the performer's behavior repertory (P), or a deficiency in the environment supporting the repertory (E), or both. The ultimate cause is always a deficiency in the management system (M). That is, W = A/B = A/(P + E + M)
Fourth Leisurely Theorem: There are a number of views of human accomplishments, at different levels of generality. The values we assign to those accomplishments are derived from the level just above them.