Evaluation Tips from the Tropics #2: Wendy’s Trapeze Adventure

March 23, 2016

Wendy Kirkpatrick is a bit of a daredevil. As a child, she would swing wildly on swings, climb trees and walk on top of the monkey bars. It was only fitting, then, that while we were on vacation, she found something to get the adrenaline pumping.

The resort we stayed at had a real circus high-flying trapeze that guests were allowed to swing on in the mornings. Wendy vacillated about participating in the circus act for the first couple of days but then finally decided to do it. I, however, volunteered to keep my feet firmly on the ground and videotape her performance.

The morning of the trapeze adventure, Wendy had one lesson on a low swing before it was time to do the real thing. In order to get to the trapeze, Wendy had to climb a tall, rickety ladder. The ladder climb was harrowing, but she made it to the top. Then, with the help of two trapeze experts, it was time to fly!

Click here to see the video footage of Wendy on the flying trapeze.

Wendy’s goal was to swing with her legs over the bar. While she wasn’t able to do the trick she wanted to do, Wendy challenged herself and had fun. Her trapeze flight is a lesson for all of us. 
Implementing elements of the New World Kirkpatrick Model will often elicit negative responses from others. Our L&D peers might say, “That is not how we do it here,”  “We can’t control what happens after training, so there’s no use even trying,” or “That won’t work with this audience, so don’t even bother.”

Business leaders might say, “Why are you asking me about business goals?” or “We are too busy running a company to help with recognition and coaching.”

No matter what negative reactions you get, you should always push forward to implement your plan. Wendy made that point very clear with her trapeze adventure. She was nervous about climbing the ladder and swinging on the trapeze, but she did it. And even though she was not able to fully complete her trick, knowing Wendy, she will try it again until she gets it.

Another point to keep in mind is that Wendy had a net underneath her to catch her if anything went wrong. Everyone understood that the single lesson on the low swing was not likely to make Wendy a trapeze expert. In the training industry, this net represents the support package that you put together for your learners. You are not just leaving them to fend for themselves after training.

I’m sure Wendy would not have wanted to try the trapeze had there not been a net. Likewise, you don’t want your learners to hold back from implementing what they’ve learned because they don’t feel comfortable. Make sure the proper supports are in place long before they ever leave your classroom. 

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Additional Resources

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level

Bringing Business Partnership to Life

Evaluation Tips from the Tropics #1: A Storm Is Brewing

Do You Challenge Training Tradition?

Are You Willing to Disrupt Tradition?

Leave the Vanishing Act to the Magicians: Jimisms #2

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