Saturday, September 25, 2021

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On December 31, I was buzzing around completing all of my year-end tasks, one of which was donating some unneeded clothing and household items to Goodwill. When I pulled up to the donation center, a group of smiling, friendly workers walked out to my vehicle and cheerfully loaded my boxes into their cart. As I closed the tailgate, one of them looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you for changing lives.”

Wow, I thought to myself. This organization gets it! They could have said, Thanks for your donation" or "Thanks for your generosity." Instead, they related my fairly mundane behavior of giving away my old stuff for a year-end write off to their ultimate purpose: to make those clothes and household items into the subject for training disabled individuals so that they can have jobs that give them purpose, income and ultimately the means to a productive life.

As I drove away from the donation site, I kept turning over in my mind what had just happened, and thought about how I could help everyone who comes into contact with Kirkpatrick Partners to have the same connection to their own mission, purpose and ultimately their Level 4 Results.

In our Kirkpatrick programs, we see people struggling to articulate the highest level goals of their organization. We see them struggle even more to relate what they do in training and development to accomplishing those goals. Often, training professionals confuse what they do with their highest goal.

Conducting training, in and of itself, is not a goal. Training can equip people to accomplish their highest level goals if it provides knowledge and skill (Level 2), and hopefully is paired with a good on-the-job implementation plan. Training professionals must be very clear about how what they teach will get used on the job (Level 3), and how this will contribute in some way to accomplishing the organization’s highest level result (Level 4).

If this connection is clear, training professionals can easily see that the training is just a means to a more important end. If this connection is unclear, it’s a good time to talk about whether or not the training is really the best use of company resources.

In the Goodwill example, here is an idea of how this all fits together:

Level 4 Results: Changing the lives of people who are disabled

Leading indicators:

  • More disabled people working
  • More disabled people trained using proceeds from retail stores
  • Increased retail store profitability due to higher donation levels
  • Increased donations because donors like me are aware of how easy it is to contribute to a great cause

Level 3 Behavior: Goodwill employees remove donations from donor vehicles and thank them for changing lives

Level 2 Learning: Goodwill employees taught to assist donors in removing donations from their vehicles and to thank them for helping to change lives

How much more impact could we all have in our organizations and the world if we were really clear on our ultimate goal and how we can maximize our personal contribution? Maximizing the goal of Kirkpatrick Partners is a personal mission for me daily. When my alarm goes off in the morning, typically my mind first goes to thinking about what needs to be accomplished that day. In a small business, there is always a lot to do; often, the number of tasks and responsibilities feels overwhelming. One way I quiet my mind and emotions is to think first about what we are really trying to achieve:

Kirkpatrick Partners helps other organizations to reach their highest goals through profitable growth of our products, programs and services.

That is how we state our Level 4 Result. Our success is measured by the impact that we make on people who attend our programs, hear our presentations and utilize our resources. To what degree are these people able to make a contribution to the Level 4 Results of their own organizations by implementing the Kirkpatrick Model in their work, and how many people are we helping, as measured by participation in our programs and use of our products and resources?

Staying focused on our goal helps me to organize my time and my day. When there is too much to do (which there always is), I think, “How will this help us to help others to reach their goals?” and, “Will this contribute to our growth so that we can help even more people?” This dual question helps me to prioritize tasks effectively, makes the to do list reasonable in length, and focuses limited company resources where they will make the most impact.

I encourage you to get really clear on your very highest organizational result and use it as lens to streamline your activities. It not only organizes your time and reduces stress, but more importantly, it maximizes your organizational impact. If you want to talk with us about this, please contact us anytime at


If you missed Jim Kirkpatrick’s new year message, click here to read it.

Additional Resources:

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification - Bronze Level

Training on Trial
Align Training with the Highest Organizational Goals

Is Level 3 Enough?

Is Your Leadership Training on Track? - Part 2



Posted in: Quick Tips
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# Paul Safyan
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 3:52 PM
Very inspiring, Wendy. Thanks. I'm hoping the upcoming class will help me to learn how to better define training objectives in these terms. It's not just an academic exercise; it's an exercise in meaningfulness and fulfillment.
# Jerry
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:42 PM
Thanks Wendy! This has really given me some things to think about. I have been mapping out a plan to redesign a new hire training program related to an EMR application in our practice locations. As I follow the KBMP, I am struggling to defining the Level 4 metrics. In fairness, we have not met with the business stakeholders as of yet (but plan too). This Goodwill example reminds me that the Level 4 Goal could be lofty - the flag on the mountain - but the Leading Indicators are the key to knowing we are on the right path. I guess, documenting the journey is as important as achieving the ultimate prize.
# Wendy Partners
Sunday, January 19, 2014 5:26 PM
Dear Paul,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. We are looking forward to working with you soon. The online certification will definitely help you to define your Level 4 Results, and everything on down. In session 4 we actually spend 1 to 1.5 hours working with each individual to help them to do this. It gets your evaluation plan that you complete as the final assignment started on the right track.

# Wendy Partners
Sunday, January 19, 2014 5:31 PM
Dear Jerry,

Your thoughts are correct. Your Level 4 Result is something that applies to the entire organization. You probably are already aware of it, but may not be thinking of it daily. In healthcare it's usually something like saving lives or improving health while maintaining organizational financial standing.

The leading indicators are what you typically find out from your stakeholders. For example, what do stakeholders expect to happen as a result of the new hire training? Faster time to proficiency? Fewer errors? Better retention? Reduced ramp up costs for new employees? Those are just a few ideas.

The leading indicators not only document the journey, they let you know that the journey is leading to the desired result. This way you don't waste years and millions wondering if your training "worked".

# Anonymous User
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 9:47 AM
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