Countering Our Failure to Connect with the Business

October 12, 2016

Did you miss ATD’s Core 4 Conference last week? Don’t worry; we have recapped the key points here.

The energy prior to my session was tremendous. A packed room eagerly awaited the presentation of “First Things First: The Foundational Principles of Training Evaluation.” The three key points of the presentation were:

1. The importance of turning the traditional Kirkpatrick Model upside down and starting with business results instead of training.

Many attendees acknowledged that they implement the Kirkpatrick Model by starting with their sponsor’s “marching orders” for a formal training program. Then they diligently design, develop and deliver the program, concluding with a participant reaction sheet and knowledge testing. I strongly recommend breaking tradition by working with program sponsors to determine expected business results. This “GPS address” consists of business or mission metrics that stakeholders will need to see impacted in order for them to say, “Job well done.” Working backwards from Level 4 Results through the remaining three levels will allow for a targeted approach to maximizing Level 3 On-the-Job Behaviors and Levels 4 Results, and minimizing wasteful, irrelevant Level 2 and Level 1 training activities. 

2. What happens at Level 3, on-the-job performance, is a much more powerful contributor to business results than is formal training. 

The second major lesson from the program was another tradition buster. I specifically called on Instructional Designers to transform themselves into “Learning and Performance Architects,” with the task of building a “GPS package” that includes pre-training and post-training activities, as well as the traditional classroom events. Other training leaders must then work to positively influence required drivers in order to maximize performance. 

3. The biggest problem in the learning and development industry is the failure to connect with the business. 

I was emphatic that the failure of training to connect with the business is a problem not just for training professionals, but for our industry overall. To counter this, L&D professionals must make a conscious and concerted effort to spend time with business leaders, program sponsors and line managers. This will lead to a better understanding of their needs, which will help to contribute to strategic execution.

Program participants shared numerous examples of where this partnership is already happening, and this inspired those who have yet to begin the transition from learning providers to strategic business partners.

Thanks to all who attended, and hope to see more of you next year. You can also take advantage of other learning opportunities in the list below.  

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Additional Resources

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation
Is Your Training Disconnected from the Business?

How Are You Adding Value to Your Organization?

Fast and Easy Ways to Get to Kirkpatrick Levels 3 and 4

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