News & Updates

Check here every week for the latest news from Chicago ISPI, ISPI, and our member contributors. Notice that you may add comments beneath the posts; please use this feature and interact with your fellow members.

If you have something you believe would benefit our community, fits into the mission of Chicago ISPI, and want to be a contributor, please send an email to

On all of our news pages, you'll notice a blue and white icon, which stands for Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Newsfeed.  When you click on this icon, you can add a special link into your web browser, Microsoft Outlook, and special RSS readers. This will automatically notify you when we add a news article.

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  • April 02, 2015 6:00 PM | Ann Battenfield (Administrator)

    Now in its eighth year, the call for speakers went out today. Proposals are due on April 23rd; click here for more details. 

    Not ready to present but want to help? Volunteers are essential and help keep the costs reasonable and create an event that the coordinators--Chicago ISPI, ATD-CHI, and STC Chicago--are proud of. Help shape the conference and receive a discount registration!

  • March 31, 2015 2:58 PM | Deleted user

    We first announced in August of 2014 that we were moving from a more traditional meeting model to one aligned with community of practice principles. Our goal was to build on what many of our members already felt: Chicago ISPI is a special community. An Implementation Team took many months to create our new model, along with the effort of 25 to 30 of some of our most ardent contributors.

    It all paid off last week, as our first community meeting launched March 25th. A true community effort, the meeting was a reflection of how smaller contributions are magnified when everyone works together. Approximately 25 people attended and everyone contributed throughout the evening.

    After some casual networking and dinner, the meeting began with a fun icebreaker activity that reminded everyone that the strength of the community, in part, comes from the connections made by its members. Claire Beck, the meeting facilitator, then provided some varied and detailed announcements and asked if anyone had any to add.

    Ranya Verson, board member and key member of the Implementation Team, shared an overview and history of the community meetings to provide context and let everyone know what would happen over the next year. Next, Lee Johnsen, a key member of the Implementation Team, discussed norms--why they are important to the community and the norms identified to date. He invited everyone to add their ideas and comments to the discussion thread about norms. If you haven't visited yet or added your comments, please do.

    A presentation format was used for this meeting; Claire facilitated a one hour interactive presentation about performance improvement basics as related to the ISPI standards. Subsequent meetings will likely use additional meeting formats, such as discussion or practice.

    Toward the end, Mike Frasure explained the process to offer, advocate for, and choose upcoming meeting topics. Contributors offered feedback and shared their expectations. As the meeting came to a close, Charmin Olion facilitated the debrief and evaluation of the meeting.

    A shout out to Claire Beck, facilitator and Kay Schumacher, backup facilitator; Maurina Patton, scribe; Charmin Olion, evaluator; Mike Frasure, content manager; Liz Osika as the greeter/registrar; and Ranya Verson, Andy Buzinski, and Lee Johnsen as the functional team leads. Their work demonstrates just how much value each contributor brings to the community and that it's truly all about the community. The community both creates and reaps the value.

  • March 29, 2015 5:23 PM | Anonymous

    Why Should I Attend the Launch Series?

    Participation in the first four meetings ensures your voice is heard, allows you to help create the meeting format and ensure that the process meets your needs. In many ways, this is an opportunity rarely afforded to members of professional associations. Usually the association decides when, where, and what you will learn and how you will participate. We are offering you the chance to create the types of meetings that best help you in your career.

    Why Should I Attend Community Meetings?

    Networking and professional development is an essential practice. Of course, you can do this in many ways. What makes the community meetings different is that they allow you to focus on exactly what matters to you and to have a say regarding your community’s focus. The communities are smaller than the meetings at some of the larger professional associations, allowing you to get to know your fellow contributors in a more meaningful way.

    What Happens at the Meetings?

    The meeting topics are determined by the contributors at the meetings and the topic could be facilitated in one of several ways. For example, a speaker from in or outside the community could present about a topic. Or a member could bring a problem to the community and ask for help solving the problem. Contributors could all share their approach to a particular task. Each community will have a list of the types of meetings they could conduct and are welcome to add to that list.

    The facilitator leads the meeting and creates an agenda. Each meeting consists of multiple components, such as:

    • Open time for networking
    • Announcements
    • Topic facilitation
    • Group process work
    • Evaluation

    The meeting scribe will take notes and transfer relevant information to the Website so discussions can be continued and that other members can participate if they were unable to attend. At the end of each meeting, the evaluation contributor will conduct a short evaluation and review.

  • March 26, 2015 3:43 PM | Anonymous

    The Chicago Alliance is hosting a networking mixer on April 30th at Willis Tower. Registration is $20 for members/$40 for nonmembers if you register by April 23; any member of Chicago ISPI is automatically a member of The Chicago Alliance and qualifies for the member rate.

  • March 24, 2015 11:50 PM | Deleted user
    Each week, ISPI members receive "ISPI Performance Digest." It's a compendium of up-to-date links to articles, research, and opinion pieces related to the performance improvement world. The links are varied and nary a week goes by without something interesting and compelling; this week was no exception.

    Teaching Science to the Brain explains that scientists at Carnegie Melon University have uncovered how the brain works when learning technical concepts. For now, this doesn't mean much to us, but it will in the future.  "The findings foreshadow the capability to assess the effectiveness of instruction and efficiency of learning by monitoring changes in the brain."

    In Brain Science: Can Training Change Your Corporate Culture?, we learn about WWII, sweetbreads, and that training isn't everything. It's a fun read and reminds us that training alone is almost never (if ever) the whole answer.
  • March 23, 2015 5:51 AM | Ann Battenfield (Administrator)
    Chicago ISPI, as an ISPI chapter, is a tireless advocate for evidence-based practice in the learning and performance improvement field. It is unlikely to hear our members talk about the importance of learning styles, for example. 

    What?!  you may be thinking.

    Indeed - this is completely true. The seeming need to cater to each individual's learning style during learning events is one of the many myths that has been perpetuated for the last 40 years. To be clear, it is important to present training content in multiple ways - some charts or maps, some physical activities, some lecture, some simulations, and so on. This is effective learning, after all. But you do not need to know your participants' styles and it does not mean that participants will only learn if you present the content in their dominant style!

    Maybe you find glee in identifying and debunking such learning and performance improvement myths.  Or maybe you didn't realize they existed until you just read this. Either way, consider that The Debunker Club is likely perfect for you because of your relationship to Chicago ISPI. Started by Will Thalheimer in winter 2015, the The Debunker Club has a mission: "Helping to Clean Up the Learning Field."

    According to their Website, "Anyone who's interested may join as long as they agree to the following:

    1. I would like to see less misinformation in the learning field.
    2. I will invest some of my time in learning and seeking the truth, from sources like peer-reviewed scientific research or translations of that research.
    3. I will politely, but actively, provide feedback to those who transmit misinformation.
    4. At least once a year, I will seek out providers of misinformation and provide them with polite feedback, asking them to stop transmitting their misinformation.
    5. I will be open to counter feedback, listening to understand opposing viewpoints. I will provide counter-evidence and argument when warranted.
    We hope that you are interested and can agree to these! If so, join The Debunker Club today.  After all, it is free and you just might make the learning field just a little bit safer. We thank you for doing so.
  • March 20, 2015 12:48 PM | Elizabeth Osika

    This is the first of several posts of the next few weeks that provide information about the new community meetings. Each one will cover a few FAQs. These will all eventually be posted on the new Website.

    Why are we changing?

    The traditional meeting model has not been successful at Chicago ISPI for years. The community meeting model gives our members more control and allows them, with our help, to create meetings that better suit their needs.

    This transition will take place in stages. In the First Stage (also called The Launch), Chicago ISPI will host four meetings to demonstrate the community meeting model, hone the process, and identify members interested in helping with the second stage. One goal is to identify members willing to help us with the Second Stage.

    In the Second Stage, Chicago ISPI will identify geographically defined regional communities. The communities will be led by the members, with assistance from Chicago ISPI. Chicago ISPI will provide detailed materials and guidance. Once the communities are formed, Chicago ISPI members (also called contributors) may attend meetings in any community.

    While Chicago ISPI will provide a structure and format, the contributors will determine the focus of meetings, suggest changes to the process, determine the date and time, and much more.

    In the Third Stage, each community may make changes that best meet its members needs so that the community remains vibrant and continually transforms to meet contributor needs. Additional communities may arise based on practice areas rather than geographical ones.

    The Launch

    Just as an instructional designer would conduct a pilot of a new training course, we are conducting a pilot of this concept. We call this the Launch and it consists of four meetings held March  25th through June 18th at DePaul’s O’Hare Campus. Chicago ISPI will obtain detailed feedback, hone the process, educate you about the process, and hopefully bring excitement back to Chicago ISPI meetings.  Because each meeting builds on the prior one and the feedback is for the process, Chicago ISPI hopes that our members will want to attend all four launch meetings.

    One of the goals of the Launch is to find members who want to assist in the creation of a regional meeting in their geographical area. Once the Launch is completed, we will work with those who are interested to help form regional meetings.

    Do I Have to Attend All of the Meetings?

    We want as many members as can to attend all four meetings. We also realize that not everyone will be able to attend all of them. We encourage you to sign up for however you are able to participate. We have created multiple registration types, allowing you to sign up as best fits your schedule.

    What About the Cost?

    Chicago ISPI is only charging for the cost of food and beverage at the Launch meetings. If you would like to attend and find the cost prohibitive, please contact Jerry, our Association Manager, at We do not want cost to prevent your attendance.

  • January 16, 2015 12:58 AM | Elizabeth Osika

    As Chicago ISPI creates and tests its new monthly meeting model, the board has realized that the current Website does not meet our needs. To that end, we have created a prototype Website and need testers to help us create a design and content that meets your needs. Liz Osika heads the team and can be reached at

    Website testers will help us test discussion boards and other new functionality as well as provide general feedback about the value, easy of use, and layout and design.

    We'd also love to hear from you if you have any Web design or HTML experience. Come join this fun team and help make our Website one you want to visit regularly! If you are interested in acting as a tester or joining the Web team, Liz is looking forward to your email at

  • January 16, 2015 12:05 AM | Elizabeth Osika

    Vibrant, accessible, and valuable monthly Chicago ISPI meetings will soon be a reality!  Ranya Verson, Lee Johnsen, and Andy Buzinski have assembled a design team to create, implement, and evaluate an in-person monthly meeting format. The format is based on a Community of Practice meeting model. The goal of the pilot is to design and create meetings that Chicago ISPI members value and in which they want to participate.

    A Community of Practice meeting model has several specific elements. Led by a facilitator, this model allows for flexible meetings that are focused on members' needs.  Each meeting may be different, as the focus could be on skill-building, problem solving, discussion and dialogue, or practice and preparation, as decided by the community members. Meeting times and dates may also be decided by the community members.

    The Design Team met in December to orient the team members and determine roles and responsibilities. Ranya, Lee, and Andy each led a portion of the meeting. The team members each signed up to work on one or more work-streams: Charter; Meeting Process and Role Design; Topic/Content Selection; Facilitator Sourcing and Support; Member Sourcing and Support; Evaluation; Logistics. There are still several open roles on this team. If anyone is interested in working on any of these work-streams, please contact Ranya.

    For now, our idea is to implement these CoP-style meetings in four regional zones: Chicago, North, West, and South/Indiana. We believe that this would allow people to attend meetings closer to work or home and to form deeper ties with the other members who they regularly see at their regional meeting. As the pilot is finalized, Chicago ISPI will work with its members to identify facilitators and members for each of the zones. Based on interest and participation, meetings in some zones may be implemented before others.
    In addition to the Design Team, a second team will assist with this effort.  These will be the members of the pilot itself.  The pilot will be held on March 25, 2015, likely in a business or restaurant in the area close to O'Hare Airport. If you have a business that could host the pilot, please let Ranya know.  Also, if you want to participate in the pilot, please let Ranya know.  All pilot participants will be asked to give their feedback about the meeting during and after the meeting on the 25th. There may be a follow-up meeting in May to finalize the format.

    Ranya Verson may be reached at

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