Training Twaddle and Evaluation. So what does it do for us?

At the quarterly management meeting heads of department were presenting progress reports. Head of distribution, had just finished sharing his news on the goods lost in transit and damaged goods issues and was applauded for the significant  impact of these initiative in the reduction in customer complaints and the reduction in goods being written off, demonstrating some very impressive financial gains.  

The next presentation was from Training and Development, known for their slick and impressive presentations this was no exception, graphs and charts displayed data related to numbers of people attending training courses, there was a wonderful selection of scores taken from end of course evaluations, and evidence of the increase in knowledge and skills taken from a variety assessments. The final slide summarized the learning outcomes for the quarter.

And then, The Head of Finance said  

“What is the impact of that time management training on the business? “When you designed/commissioned the training how did you research the impact of lost time on the business”? You are aware that lost time is running at X% representing £X.00!”


“What evidence do you have to demonstrate how that presentation skills training for sales representatives, delivered 5 months ago has improved our conversion rates”?

 If you could be that person from training and development

And so, with lots of evidence to support evaluation at levels 1 and 2 of the Donald Kirkpatrick model but with little evidence of contribution to a better business, it came as no surprise to colleagues when the training budget was chopped and managers became reluctant to support training initiatives that they perceived made little difference to key strategic issues.

 Where does evaluation start? Definitely not at the end!

Evaluation is traditionally represented as the final stage in a systematic approach with the purpose being to improve interventions (formative evaluation) or make a judgment about worth and effectiveness (summative evaluation) Why evaluate when the game is over? Evaluation is an integral part of instructional design and it starts BEFORE the training at the beginning of the design stage.

Brinkerhoff’s Six Stage Model

Using the Brinkerhoff model training must meet two criteria.

  • It must produce learning changes with efficiency and efficacy. Efficacy = Power or capacity to produce a desired effect.
  • If it does not result in some benefit to the organization, then it has no worth. Worth is defined as the extent to which T&D produces value to the organization at a reasonable cost.

Brinkerhoff’s model provides us with a systems approach to evaluating training the model examines both process and outcomes continuously throughout the development and delivery cycle, the benefit of the approach is that it is responsive to business issues.

Because it’s responsive, this model requires L&D departments to adopt a completely different approach to training needs analysis however; the benefits are greater capability to provide measurable solutions to emerging business needs.

Critical Questions

  • The first question is “what is the business objective that this solution needs to address now”?
  • What performance improvement objectives could be derived from the improvement of the business process?
  • What evidence, measures, benchmarks, are available to us to inform the design of solutions and evaluate whether those solution are effective.

Needs analysis that is approached once a year, and, solely as a competency based activity, fails to react to the problems that the business experiences NOW. This approach also fails to address the operational issues and strategic aims of the business.  

The measure of effective training and development at the top table is about what business benefits are occurring as a result of learning and development intervention the role of L&D is to enhance capability by leveraging business results from investments in learning

 Spectrain offer a range of solutions to enable you to align the activity of your training and development department with the requirements of the business. See our solutions for managing training and development;–Development



2 responses to “Training Twaddle and Evaluation. So what does it do for us?

  1. Hi – I am very excited by your article. I work with leadership development consultants providing analysis to demonstrate that their programs deliver actual business value. I follow the Brinkerhoff methodology and conduct group-wide surveys followed by individual follow-up to build up a picture of the learning and behaviour change driving business impact. In addition to demonstrating the value of programs I am able to support program designers in refining design by identifying key business goals and aligning program outcomes to them.
    To me, the most valuable part of leadership learning is to align the learning goal to the business imperatives so that people are able to apply what they have learned and see how it helps them to achieve their business goals. It elevates HR to a strategic level by providing the leadership talent that the business needs to achieve its goals.
    I would love to talk to you more about how we might work together. Please email me if this would be of interest to you.

  2. Juliet, thanks so much for taking the time to comment it makes my writing so worthwhile. I am contacting you by email right now…:-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s