Immediately Applied Theory for Enhanced Performance
Peter Drucker stressed application, rather than theory . . . again and again. Frequently he concluded his seminars with something like this: "Don’t tell me what a wonderful seminar I gave or how much you enjoyed it. Tell me what you are going to do differently Monday morning. He may have derived the general idea of the importance of application from the ancient Chinese sage, Confucius, who explained the dichotomy between theory and application as follows: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." Doing, of course, means application. And according to both Confucius and Drucker, understanding is required for both enhanced performance and ultimate mastery of anything.
This all began with my own struggles to achieve success, or rather, survival, and believe me these struggles were monumental. Although in some areas I achieved a modicum of success, in other areas I was clueless and the results I attained prove it. For example, I overcame enormous handicaps, including recurrent rheumatic fever to achieve an appointment as a cadet to the United States Military Academy at West Point. This was the start of a terrific four year battle to remain there and to graduate, which I eventually won, but barely. As an example of how bitter this fight was, my first year I had "achieved" one of the lowest grade point averages in mathematics since George Armstrong Custer had graduated in the class of June of 1861. So much was I lacking in success, that when I returned during my 35th reunion as one of the 7% in my class fortunate enough to have attained the military rank of general, studied and received a PhD from the Drucker’sSchool in Claremont, California, and become a book author, many of my classmates were dumbfounded. What had I been doing differently? The answer was both IATEP (which I had started developing as a cadet), and of course, Peter Drucker.
What is IATEP?
IATEP is an advanced learning model whereby performance is enhanced through immediate hands-on application of theory to current job issues, problems, projects, and decision making to increase both efficiency and effectiveness of output while simultaneously embedding new skills to enable high levels of performance in similar tasks on a permanent basis. It emphasizes learning by doing rather than learning through lecture or textbook as primary, rather than supporting elements in the actual application of knowledge. I had begun experimenting and using IATEP as an undergraduate and continued through both my military and my academic career.
To give credit where credit is due, I developed the concept based on teaching and learning concepts originating from concepts that I observed and optimized from many schools that I attended, and as a professor in the classroom at various universities with research involving more than 3000 students and student teams in four countries. Most recently, it has been applied to the California Institute of Advanced Management (CIAM), a graduate school offering a unique MBA at which I co-founded and of which I have the honor to be president. It represents the pinnacle of what I have learned.
The Six Step IATEP Model
You can use IATEP as I did initially for personal enhancement, or as I do presently to help others enhance their performance. The IATEP model always involves six steps:
- Motivation for Learning the Theory
- Introduction and Explanation of the Theory with Application Examples
- Immediate Application by Students through Experiential Learning, or Mental Exercise
- Responsibility for a Significant Applied Project Involving the Theory
- Feedback during Performance
- Overall Corrections and Encouragement
Let’s take a look at how these six steps are followed
Marketing Planning and the Formal Marketing Plan
Marketing planning was introduced as a unified conceptual theory after World War II in which structured planning was applied to marketing issues as it became recognized that the mere fact of preparing the plan was useful, maybe even more so than the plan itself, since events frequently required altering a plan in application. This motivated General Eisenhower, who oversaw the planning of the largest invasion in the history of warfare during World War II to exclaim: "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."
IATEP allows this process to be integrated and mastered much more rapidly so that even newly graduated students can not only participate fully in marketing planning, but can prepare and professionally present one immediately, and accomplish this by themselves if necessary.
Example of Market Planning Application in the Classroom
In one of my early classes in academia, a student applied IATEP in a graduate class which I taught at the University of Southern California. The class required an actual marketing plan as part of the course. Shortly after the course ended, one of my students, Harriet Cellini, was forced to drop out of the MBA program due to lack of funds. She succeeded in getting a job with Cole of California, a major swimwear company by using a marketing plan applied to a totally different arena: job finding. She was able to do this, because as Confucius had noted several thousand years earlier, "she understood."
Before a consultant could be hired, Harriet volunteered for this task which more experienced employees had shunned. She was given the responsibility for developing a marketing plan to sell swimwear using direct marketing techniques. Others told her that her volunteering was a big mistake and would expose her ignorance and lack of experience. However, she completed the plan successfully, and with only minor changes, it was approved. Moreover, though the youngest and most recently hired employee, she was asked to head a small team on a temporary basis to implement the plan. She claimed that she made many mistakes, but she was successful and less than eight months later she was appointed Director of Advertising for Cole of California even though much younger than her colleagues. Harriet’s salary was elevated significantly, and three years later she quit her job to return to get her MBA at the Anderson School at UCLA. On graduation in 1984, she received one of the highest starting salaries in the country going with a top management consulting firm by using a marketing plan once again to lay out her job campaign.
Now, this short article is not about developing marketing plans. But it does demonstrate the value of IATEP and the rapidity with which one can master a subject area or topic by the simple act of immediate application.