Tony Kern, BA, MPA, MMAS, Ed.D., Lt Col, (USAF, Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer, Chief Learning Officer
My quest for understanding human performance began in tragedy, when two of my former students crashed a perfectly functioning B-1 Bomber into a ridgeline on a moonless night in 1992.
For the next several years, I studied and wrote tirelessly as a way to come to grips with where I might have had failed them. Ten years and three books later, I received a phone call from a senior military officer asking if I could help them with a human performance problem they were experiencing—and Convergent Performance was born.
I’m not a very smart guy, but I am a slow-and-steady learner. What I lack in innate intelligence is compensated for by an insatiable appetite to know why well-intended, well-trained people sometimes fail tragically, or never reach their full potential. I’ve written nearly 3,000 published pages on this topic, and feel that the more I learn, the less I know for sure. What I do know for certain is that we need a reawakening of the human spirit when it comes to personal accountability and responsibility for our own performance. Over the years, we have discovered several keys that make this awakening happen, and we seek to share them with you. It’s our passion, our mission, and our reason for being.
Reading Recommendations: The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations, by Dietrich Dörner; The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds, by Michael Lewis; The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara.
Captain Chris Lutat, B.A., ATP (DA-20, MD-11, B-777)
Being a founding member of Convergent Performance has been one of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my career in aviation.
Right from the founding of our Company in 2003, Convergent Performance has allowed me to pursue contemporary aviation issues alongside some of the best thinkers and support staff in the Aviation Safety community. And as a former Coast Guard aviator, I’ve always associated aviation with saving lives. At Convergent Performance, we don’t operate airplanes but we provide services that save lives—allowing me to combine two passions in the service of the broader aviation industry. I don’t know of any other company in our category that has as much experience or know-how when it comes to addressing the complexity of the human-machine relationship, or that does it with the same rigor.
Reading Recommendations: When I share literature recommendations with fellow professionals, always at the top of the list are two authors who have taught me much about the human-machine relationship: Gary Klein and Henry Petroski. Their rigorous exploration of contemporary safety issues is inspirational and instructional, and every edition that I own written by each of these researchers is full of highlights and notes written in the margin.
Kenneth D. Stahl, M.D., F.A.C.S.
President of Healthcare
I learned how to fly airplanes right along with learning how to do surgery, and these two parallel loves came together the day my three partners and I started Convergent Performance in the dining room of my house.
Although I’ve never flown for any of the flag carriers, I fly my own airplane for charity missions and medical transportation. I’ve spent about as much time in the cockpit as in the operating room, where I perform heart surgery and train residents to do procedures, as well as how to think about problem solving and avoiding errors.
Our work at Convergent Performance has made two of my career goals possible: I have taken the safety science from my Airline Transport Pilot certificate training right into the hospital to develop a mindset and training curriculum for healthcare providers to mitigate small mistakes before they end up as patient tragedies. I look back at the residents and medical students I have trained as force multipliers for my own surgical skills and error avoidance methods. I may never know who they help in their future careers, but I know they take my lessons along with them. The same is true for our work in aviation; while I don’t fly with most of the pilots I train, I know they hear my voice in the back of their heads as they make their own flight safety decisions.
Reading Recommendations: Two of my favorite authors are Laurence Gonzales and Malcolm Gladwell. They both encapsulate one of my favorite mental exercises, called “metacognition,” or thinking about the way we think about things. Gonzales’ book, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, is a must-read, and I’ve gifted it to my kids and everyone else who wants to avoid life threatening situations. Another of his great books is, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience. Gladwell has numerous books that are great reads, but two lesser known books, David and Goliath, and What the Dog Saw, are particularly worthwhile.
Shae Comstock, B.A.
Director of Business Development
I'm privileged to work for a company that helps high-risk industries improve their culture by advancing individual performance and efficiency. The programs we offer not only help companies save time and money on insurance claims, but more importantly the work we do saves lives. I love having the opportunity to truly get to know the individuals that make each company we work with a safer, better place.
Reading Recommendation: Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge, by Daniel A. Sjursen; The Medal by Richard Galloway
Paul Miller, B.A.
Technical Writing and Content Manager
Convergent Performance provides me the opportunity to work in a dynamic and ever-changing small business environment, where one moment I can be editing an emergency procedure checklist, the next I’m reviewing cutting-edge training videos, and then I’m troubleshooting a computer issue or researching the latest cyber threat. More importantly, I work at Convergent Performance because I believe that the content we offer improves people's safety and effectiveness, and even saves lives.
Reading Recommendations: The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod; The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell.
Audio/Visual Media Specialist
Being part of the Convergent Performance team allows me to apply the skills and experience I have in video production towards making a positive impact in high-risk companies. I enjoy working for Convergent Performance knowing that our work helps companies create better and safer work environments.
Reading Recommendations: Rebel without a Crew, by Robert Rodriguez; Tesla: Man Out of Time, by Margaret Cheney.
Jermaine Cadogan, Maj. (USMC, Ret.)
By utilizing my experiences in the USMC, I have been able to serve as a lead instructor for Convergent Performance. I currently fill the role of being a program manager for the United States Navy Reserves Aviation Maintenance Never Events program and my personal motto is “Wherever you go, leave the place better than you found it.”
Jānis Nagy, M.S., B.S., LCDR (USCG, Ret.)
Certified Performance Technologist and Project Management Professional
My twenty-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard combined with as many in management consulting has taught me that the range of your experience has very much to do with what value you bring to the table on every task or project. Thinking outside the box and bringing innovative solutions to modern problems is much easier when you’ve lived outside one box most of your career.
Reading Recommendations: No surprise based on my lead-in, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World written by David Epstein had a significant impact on me, reinforcing what I’ve always felt about being pushed into one functional role. Another recent addition to my best of list, Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall. Awesome book! A must read for organizational leaders that truly want to innovate but struggle to make it a reality within their organizations. If I’m looking for distraction I go for Carl Hiaasen, Kyle Milles, Mark Greaney and several other solid fiction writers.
Director of Finance
I bring over 15 years of accounting experience, from a wide range of industries. I am excited about the opportunity to work with Convergent Performance and continue to grow and expand my own skill sets while helping the company grow in the process. I appreciate that Convergent Performance works toward making companies safer, helping reduce human error, and saving lives.
Reading Recommendations: Unleashing the Power of Diversity, by Bjorn Z. Ekelund; Bring Your Human to Work, by Erica Keswin; and The 80/20 Principal: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, by Richard Koch.
Captain Christopher J. Stickney, B.S. ATP DA20, B-757, B-767, B-777
Convergent Performance Project Lead
While at Convergent Performance, I have been involved with the automated procedures design and development for the Marine Corps and Coast Guard transition into the C130J. I was the principle investigator and author for the RCAF Automation Policy and Planning Development (APPD) report, that analyzed the automation procedural strengths and weakness of the existing mix of Canadian fixed and rotary aircraft (BE90, B412, CC-130H, CP-140, EH-101, A310 and C-17).
Gary Grass, CP, AME M1, M2
Certified Instructor and QA SME
Working for Convergent Performance is a great way to keep my mind active, and it allows me to give back to the aviation industry as a human factors instructor. Human factors training is constantly evolving, and I feel privileged to contribute to its growth and have an impact on improving aviation safety. Every time I teach, I marvel at the ways our curriculum both contributes to industry safety, while also showing people their personal growth potential, both on and off the job. I wish I had been exposed to this type of training early in my own career.
Reading Recommendations: Band of Brothers, by Ernest K. Gann (Not the D-day story); Captain Cook in Alaska and the North Pacific, by James K. Barnett; The Art of War, by Sun Tzu; Lifetime Plan for Success, by Dale Carnegie.
Jim Bridwell A.A., B.A., ATP (727, 737, Be1900, SW4)
Certified Instructor and QA SME
Convergent Performance is perhaps the most influential, life-changing professional organization that I have encountered. Their team is humble, engaged, motivated, and inspirational—they remind me of what it means to embrace the untapped potential within oneself, to leave cruise control alone, to consistently recognize, embrace, and practice deliberate acts of professionalism in private and in professional life. My colleagues are a constant reminder of what the pursuit of professionalism brings forth in a person, and I can only hope to inspire others as my colleagues who continue to inspire me.
Reading Recommendations: Atomic Habits, by James Clear; Circe, by Madeline Miller.