Posts Tagged ‘Business Impact’

Starting LineI read an excellent article today by Paul Kearns called “All you need to know about training evaluation in about 700 words.” I’ll respond with about 800 words. The article resonated with me because I have spent most of my adult life in some role related to training or education. I’ve been in a million conversations about evaluating training and have been subjected – as learner and trainer – to various and sundry attempts to evaluate training.

Kearns’ point in the article is that the Kirkpatrick levels of evaluation that learning organizations have discussed for decades have always been and will always be inadequate, even if you try to amend them by throwing in the more recently added fifth level for ROI. (Just in case you’re not familiar with Kirkpatrick’s levels, Kearns summarizes the original four levels as 1) reaction to training, 2) testing learning, 3) applying learning in the workplace and 4) business impact.)

Why the inadequacy of Kirkpatrick? Because the point of any training in the workplace is to improve business performance in some way, and unless you have first adequately measured and recorded a baseline of that performance before training, then you have no basis for rightly evaluating the effectiveness of the training afterward. I would also add that you must be able to separate the impact of, for example, learning that happens as a result of attending a class or completing an online module or asking colleagues via a social network or reading on one’s own from learning that occurs in other contexts, or else your quantitative calculations will be tainted with unverifiable assumptions that your training is the reason for the difference.