Carrying on Don’s Legacy: The Central Arizona Project

April 11, 2016

In September 2015, the Centralized Learning and Development (CLD) team of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) welcomed Kirkpatrick Partners to their facility to conduct a Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Analysis. This two-part series will show what the analysis found, the final results and how CAP’s CLD team is carrying on Don Kirkpatrick’s legacy with their work.

The CAP is Arizona’s largest resource for renewable water supplies, designed to bring about 1.5 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to Central and Southern Arizona every year. More than 5 million people live in areas where CAP water is delivered.

CAP created the CLD team in 2013, the members of which attended a Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level in August 2015. The team hoped to learn a common language and figure out what L&D efforts were needed to contribute to and demonstrate impact on their organization. More so, they were committed to executing what they learned in order to maximize job performance and results.

The group was so impressed that in September 2015, Kirkpatrick Partners was invited to conduct a Business Partnership Analysis of CAP. Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick Certified Facilitator Sue Muehlbach reviewed and observed key processes and practices to determine CAP’s degree of alignment with the New World Kirkpatrick Model.

They ultimately made formal, detailed recommendations to CAP to select and drive programs to Level 3 Behavior and Level 4 Results, to determine current success factors and barriers to contributing true value to the business, and to create future value.

A major part of the process involved senior managers, managers and employees being interviewed over the course of two days to determine current corporate views, practices and future expectations. Jim Kirkpatrick and Sue Muehlbach presented their findings and recommendations to the General Manager and CLD.

Success factors:

1. CAP has an admirable learning and performance culture already in place
2. CLD and business units work well together
3. Many program development processes aligned with business needs
4. Business leaders were frequently used in training delivery
5. CLD programs aligned well with strategic plans
6. CLD team members are trusted, unified, approachable, have strong technical ability and credibility
7. They are seen as collaborative partners
8. Apprenticeship Program and Supervisors Academy are successful and should be used as “bright lights” for future mission-critical programs
9. There are good Level 1 and 2 practices currently in place


1. Work needs to be done to develop and communicate a clear CLD strategy
2. CLD capabilities need to be better communicated to leadership
3. CLD needs to continue building on success of Supervisors Academy with manager and executive pathways
4. More efforts should be made to develop supervisors and managers as coaches to support employees both pre- and post-training event
5. Targeted methods and tools for Kirkpatrick Level 3 behaviors and Level 4 results need to be developed

Next week, we will dive into the changes the CLD team made after the analysis and what they are doing now. 

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Additional Resources:

Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Analysis

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation

Training Industry Trends for 2012: An Interview with the Kirkpatricks

Why Get Kirkpatrick Certified?

Read the Finals Words Don Kirkpatrick Left Just for You

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