Andrew Jefferson and Roy Pollock recently published a post about the importance of learning transfer on the ASTD website. They wrote in their post “It Doesn’t Matter How Good Your Training Is“:
“The real issue is not learning, but learning transfer. And right now, that is where most training programs fall short. How big a problem is it? It is very serious.
In a survey conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council of the Executive Board, 56% of managers felt that employee performance would not change or would be improved if L&D were eliminated completely!”
Kind of depressing to hear that your awesome training might not matter, huh? So what can you do to make sure your training impacts your students performance and is appreciated by the students’ managers?
As you well know, showing the return on investment (ROI) of a training can be a pretty daunting task. Anyone facing this dilemma, or the need to continually improve your training, should take a moment to learn about and apply the concepts of validated learning as popularized in Eric Ries’s book “The Lean Startup” (You can also take an online class produced by Eric Ries on this topic here).
For a quick high-level explanation of the validated learning process check out the illustration and steps below.
1) Metrics - Learn what metrics are being used to evaluate your students’ performance (This step is the only real deviation from the workflow advocated by Eric Ries and is essential if you are to successfully deliver performance enhancing training. By learning what gets measured, you learn how the ROI of your students is being gauged. If you can improve the ROI your students provide, then you will gain the confidence of your students’ managers).
2) Idea - Come up with ideas on how you can provide training that will improve these metrics.
3) Develop - Create curriculum centered around these ideas.
4) Train - Deliver your training to students.
5) Measure – Assess learning retention and skills using tests, projects, and practice scenarios. Also, have your students’ managers measure your students pre-class and post-class performance metrics.
6) Data - Gather the pre and post class data surrounding these metrics.
7) Learn - Look for patterns and causation in your data to learn what did and didn’t have a positive impact on your students performance metrics.
Now repeat this process by using what you learned from analyzing data to come up with new ideas for developing training as outline in step two. The faster and more informative the iterative process is, the better.
So if you are looking to be a successful professional development trainer, remember that successful training isn’t build around test scores or customer satisfaction surveys, but around how your training impacts the work performance of your students. Also, be sure to put processes in place to make sure you are continually improving your training’s ability to deliver this value and your students’ managers will love you!