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When I developed the four levels in the 1950s, I had no idea that they would turn into my legacy. I Don_Web Use 2014simply needed a way to determine if the programs I had developed for managers and supervisors were successful in helping them perform better on the job. No models available at that time quite fit the bill, so I created something that I thought was useful, implemented it, and wrote my dissertation about it.

Throughout the years and decades to follow, other learning professionals operationalized and even named my model. I had never actually called it the Kirkpatrick Model, but that was what practitioners began referring to it as. I’m grateful to have been able to contribute something that others have found useful, and it’s really because of practitioners like all of you that my legacy has been created. I thank all of you who have been a part of that over the decades, and I’m grateful for Jim and Wendy and all their partners who are carrying on and strengthening it.

A legacy is more than four words comprising a model. It is about how you contributed to the greater good and how you are remembered for that contribution. My legacy has been enhanced by the fact that people see me as a real person, not just an academic name behind the model. I think this is because I personally used the model, let it guide my practice and genuinely care about the success of organizations and the individuals within those organizations across the world.

Ultimately though, when people think about Kirkpatrick, I don’t want them to think about me; I want them to think about the model and the mission to ensure that training contributes to organizational results. I hope that my model helps to improve training and follow-up so that the lives of those to be impacted by organizations – citizens, customers, patients, clients, children and families – ultimately benefit in some way.

As we begin a new year, I challenge you to think about your own legacy. You still have lots of opportunity to influence it. Pause from your activities, tasks and objectives, and think about what you want your contribution to be. What do you want to leave behind? Start with the end in mind, and then determine what steps you might take to make this happen.

Don’t approach your legacy with a self-serving attitude; it will be obvious to others and will amount to nothing when all is said and done. Instead of thinking about what will make you look good, focus on how others can benefit from what you can do. It all comes down to making your contribution to the greater good.

I encourage you to talk to someone you trust about this. Jim and Wendy also welcome the opportunity to discuss these ideas with anyone interested. You can email them at

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

If you missed Wendy's, click here.

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Additional Resources:

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification - Bronze Level

Kirkpatrick Then and Now

Evaluating Human Relations Programs for Industrial Foremen and Supervisors

Celebrating Don Kirkpatrick's Legacy

Evaluating Training Programs: The Kirkpatrick Four Levels DVD

Don Kirkpatrick Commemorative Package

Actions: Permalink | Comments (2) |


# Kenneth Fung
Monday, January 27, 2014 5:39 AM
Don, despite your recent well-earned retirement from the full time evaluation fray, you’re still widely regarded, correctly, as the first person to put learning evaluation on the map. Despite this pre-eminence, your message here is of humility and service. That’s something many of today’s gurus and experts in the field could learn from.
# registered used
Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:38 PM
I still miss you, Dad, and think about you every day. Thanks for leaving us some great stuff to work with! Jim
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