Neon Elephant Award 2013

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21st December 2013

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer, President of Work-Learning Research, announces the winner of the 2013 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Gary Klein for his many years doing research and practice in naturalistic decision making, cognitive task analysis, and insight learning–and for reminding us that real-world explorations of human behavior are essential in enabling us to distill key insights.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

2013 Award Winner –   Gary Klein

Gary Klein is a research psychologist who specializes in how people make decisions and gain insights in real-world situations. His research on how firefighters made decisions in their work showed that laboratory models of decision making were not fully accurate. His work in developing cognitive task analysis and his co-authorship of the book Working Minds have provided the training-and-development field with a seminal guide. His recent work on how people develop real-world insights is reorienting the field of creativity research and practice. In 1969 Klein received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. In the 1990’s he founded his own R&D company, Klein Associates, which he sold in 2005. He was one of the leaders in redesigning the White House’s Situation Room. He continues to be a leading research-to-practice professional.

Klein is honored this year for his lifetime of work straddling the research and practice sides of the learning-and-performance field. By doing great research and great practice and using both to augment the other, he has been able to advance science and practice to new levels.

One of Klein’s most important contributions is the insight that real-world human behavior cannot always be distilled from laboratory experiments. He has brought this wisdom to firefighting, military decision-making, and most recently to everyday insight-creation.

While we in the learning-and-performance field may focus on Klein’s work on cognitive task analysis as his most important contribution to our field, as we now look to discover ways to support employees in on-the-job learning–what some have called informal learning–Klein’s focus on naturalistic decision-making and insight-development are also likely to be seminal contributions.

For deeply exploring naturalistic decision-making and real-world insight–the workplace learning-and-performance field owes a grateful thanks to Gary Klein.


Some Key Links:


Some Key Publications:

  • Klein, G., & Jarosz, A. (2011). A naturalistic study of insight. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 5, 335-351.
  • Klein, G. (2008). Naturalistic decision making. Human Factors, 50(3), 456-460.
  • Klein, G. A. (1993). A recognition-primed decision (RPD) model of rapid decision making. In G. A. Klein, J. Orasanu, R. Calderwood, & C. E. Zsambok (Eds.), Decision making in action: Models and methods (pp. 138–147). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  • Klein, G., & Hoffman, R. (2008). Macrocognition, mental models, and cognitive task analysis methodology. In Schraagen, J. M., Militello, L., Ormerod, T., & Lipshitz, R. (Eds.). Naturalistic decision making and macrocognition. (pps. 3-25). Ashgate: Hampshire, U.K.
  • Kahneman, D., & Klein, G. (2009). Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree. American Psychologist, 64, 515-526.


Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…