Are You Willing to Disrupt Tradition?

June 18, 2014

Bud Melton, former CEO of First Indiana Bank, is a tall man who may look intimidating to some. In reality, he is an honest and fair leader.

When Jim Kirkpatrick led training efforts at the bank, Bud summoned Jim to his office and provided the marching orders: develop and deliver a workforce-wide training program that would transform the bank into thousands of “trusted advisors.” He then summarily dismissed Jim.

If Jim had followed bank and training industry protocol, he would have mentally saluted the leader, turned on his heels and begun the enormous task he was just granted. Instead, Jim made an instantaneous disruptive action. Jim told the CEO that there was actually no training program on earth that could deliver the results he had defined.

After some heated discussion, Jim and Bud sat down and hammered out the foundation of a learning and performance package that had a chance of getting the job done.

Has a similar situation occurred in your career? Did you handle it in the same fashion? We strongly believe that learning and performance professionals who are strong enough to be disruptive are the future of the industry.

Disruptive training professionals challenge stakeholders to do more than write a check. Tradition is to receive a request for training and conduct a brief discussion with the sponsor regarding expectations. So how do you disrupt the current fashionable approach? You must start with the end in mind:

  • First, determine which ultimate business outcomes are expected to be positively impacted by the initiative (Level 4 Results). Click here for tips on distinguishing between training goals and organizational goals.
  • Then, turn the discussion to the required level of effort and the business partnership approach to learning and performance (Level 3 Behavior). Discuss how the sponsor will need to play an active role in accountability and support after training in order for their results to be achieved. These program sponsors are in the position of being the most powerful influence in terms of how quickly and to what degree their goals become reality.

Read more about getting your stakeholders to sign on to the training initiative rather than just signing off on it.

You will likely disrupt some of your colleagues who are in a hurry to start designing and developing training (Level 2 Learning), as well as stakeholders/sponsors who just want to make their request and be left alone to let training work its magic.

However, you will ultimately benefit your organization by maximizing on-the-job application and subsequent business-level results. Read more about how to challenge tradition by leveraging your organization’s bright lights.

Epilogue: The initiative was a success. Thanks to the dedicated effort of many to ensure that the driver package of support and accountability was in force during the entire twelve months of execution, bank revenue, profits and morale all increased significantly. Less than one year later, however, another type of disruption occurred. The bank was acquired. Was this initiative part of a plan to increase the value of the bank prior to the acquisition? Jim never found out.  

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Additional Resources

Kirkpatrick® Business Partnership Certificate Program

Bringing Business Partnership to Life

Training Value Questionnaire

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