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Jim Kirkpatrick's Postings


Written on December 22

Merriest of Greetings to You,

I just got off the phone with a customer, and we both took turns answering the question, "Are you ready for the holidays?" I am sorry to report that both of us said, "No. Still too much work to do."

It is a sad situation when we don't have time to enjoy the times leading up to the actual friends and family events unfolding this weekend and through the next week. Oh, well. Not much I can do about that now except to find moments of anticipation and readiness in between the ever-present work.

I always think of you, our friends and colleagues, during this time of the year. Many of your names and faces come into my mind and heart. I am so thankful for those of you who have added yourselves to the long list of ambassadors - bright lights- for our mission. Wendy, Ashley, Daniel, Shealy, Tammi and I take time to talk about you who have encouraged our spirits and helped others to see a bright future.

My simple suggestion is to take time to find quiet moments to enjoy and thank those whose spirits and hearts need warming. Tell them what they mean to you. This is especially important since many are people you see so infrequently. 

May this holiday season bring you joy and meaning amidst all of the noise.

Warm regards,

Jim Kirkpatrick

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Our Thanksgiving in the United States falls on Thursday, November 24 this year. This also would have been my mother's 90th birthday. A double celebration? It depends on how I choose to look at it. One way would be to say that because she didn't live to see this birthday, it is a sad day. Another way would be for me to think, "She lived a full and rich 87 years, and I am thankful that she did not suffer in death." I choose the latter; thus, it is a double celebration for me. 

Being thankful is a choice, and I am feeling extra thankful this year. Many blessings have come our way in 2016. We have a strong, competent and caring support staff. We have health throughout our extended families. Our new book, Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation, launched in October and is already helping a lot of people. Wendy and I have had quality time together and with friends and family throughout the year. While challenges have come our way, together we have worked through them. 

During 2016, our team facilitated opportunities for me to work with many U.S. government agencies, branches of the U.S. military and private businesses, both domestically and abroad. During those times, I have met many wonderful people, eager to learn new ways of creating and demonstrating value to their organizations. They are just as eager to help others who are struggling with their training efforts. I am particularly thankful for those of you who have become Bright Lights to me and to others. Our efforts could not possibly be successful without you. 

Finally, it is difficult for me to reflect on my mother Fern without thinking about dear old Dad. Don K's spirit and legacy appear to us every day through our work, and I am thankful for what he has left us to continue. 

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Wendy and I are back in the office after an exciting time in Denver for the annual ATD International Conference and Expo. This was my 15th year attending and presenting. During my few minutes of reflection on the 3 days we spent in Denver, I am reminded that each of those years had its own unique flavor. 2016 was my second favorite behind 2011, which featured my dad's farewell to friends at ATD and the L&D world.

What made this one special was the soft launch of our new book, Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation. The book was only made available to conference attendees, and will not be offered to the general public until October 2016. From my vantage point, it was not a soft launch at all. First, the sales of our book may have set a conference record, selling more copies than those of keynote presenters. Second, the foreign rights manager is working towards having the book translated into eight languages by the end of the year. No other Kirkpatrick book has been available in so many different languages.

For those of you who really know Kirkpatrick, you know that numbers are only part of a story. What encourages us the most was the collective passion of the book contributors. They shared their own stories of success during concurrent sessions and at an evening reception.

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May 9, 2016 will mark two years since Don's passing. It is still hard.

It is also good. I still hear his words of guidance and encouragement when I re-read articles he wrote or view videos of him teaching. I am still reminded of who he was when I look at his picture in my office, or put his final birthday card to me on our mantle, or when I fish in a trout stream in his beloved Wisconsin. 

Those are my private memories, but I do have something that might interest you, something that he intended to be for you.

In his final days, I sat with him with a pen and paper and asked him what he wanted to say to you -- his precious, final words about his four levels. Wendy and I took his words and included them as part of the foreword of our new book, Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation, published by ATD Press. Here is an excerpt:

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Kirkpatrick Levels 3 and 4 have intimidated training professionals for decades. Some think they have cracked the code with a highly standardized 90-day post-training survey, but this is not adequate and could even be counterproductive. Others think that 360-degree surveys are the key, but this is not a complete solution either. 

The time for being intimidated is over. Getting to Kirkpatrick Levels 3 and 4 is not as difficult, time-consuming or expensive as many believe. Our first tip to conquer this challenge is to remember that the end is the beginning. 

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One morning while on vacation, Wendy and I went through the resort's buffet line for breakfast. We got our food, set it down at a table by the pool and then left the table for about four minutes to get our beverages and talk to a fellow guest. 

When we returned, our breakfast was being ravaged by local birds. Eggs, potatoes, bread and fruit were being eaten, tossed about and generally destroyed. Other guests were sitting nearby, but they were unconcerned and not trying to protect our food. 

A metaphor formed before our eyes. Similar to how Wendy and I did not protect our food, many organizations do little or nothing to protect their training investments.

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While on vacation recently, Wendy and I were having a mid-afternoon snack when this guy sat down with us. He introduced himself as Gary and said he was on the staff of the place where we were staying. Gary was friendly yet considerate of ‘not overstaying his welcome’ as we talked about the food, weather and island activities.

Later that day, he was at the entrance of the dining room greeting guests as they came for dinner (see photo). At the end of the evening, the staff put on a show for the guests. Guess who was in the show dressed up in a goofy outfit and even singing a song? You guessed it, Gary.

You may wonder how one gets such a neat job as this. You may also wonder just what Gary’s job is. Is he their public relations manager? Is he on the entertainment team? Perhaps he is in sales and marketing?

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As many of you know, I'm always thinking about how real world things Beach 1relate to training and training evaluation. Wendy and I recently took a trip to Turks and Caicos, and I found myself taking pictures of the beach that made me think about the Kirkpatrick Model and training.


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October 3, 2016

What a success our book, Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation, has been! It's consistently ranked in the top twenty-five of the Training books section on Amazon.

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