Making training an evidence-based profession

At the beginning of the year a while back, someone on the Learning Circuits blog asked about challenges, plans and predictions for the upcoming year in terms of the training profession. In response, Bill Brantley from Design of Knowledge posted this: “My answer is both a challenge, plan, and prediction: To help make training an evidence-based profession so that there is no question about its value in making a difference to people and organizations.

What I wrote back then bears repeating now:

Funny how all these years into “corporate training” we still don’t have a lot of solid, empirical evidence that proves its effectiveness.  Anecdotal evidence, yes; “smile sheet” evidence, yes.  But what evidence do we have that points unequivocally to training as a contributor to positive organizational change, better productivity, increased bottom line results, whatever measure floats your boat (and certainly that last is one that we as training professionals would love to be able to draw a direct line to)?  Precious little, if any.

I sometimes wonder if:

a.    We’re measuring the right things
b.    Our measures themselves, such as they are, are right
c.    We’re not doing enough in advance to establish parameters or metrics to train against; learning objectives alone aren’t enough, or learning objectives themselves need measures
Intuitively we know training works, otherwise organizations wouldn’t keep funding it. How can we measure what we gather that says training works?

I’ve also been bothering myself with the idea of sustainability and the issue of skill and/or experience integration over the long term, as an extension of the above.  As a consultant and trainer myself, my ultimate goal is that my clients become self-sufficient in the areas I’ve helped them develop skills in – also known as working myself out of a job :-).  More on this topic another time.


About XpertMCC

Credentialed executive coach, learning and development senior manager/consultant, facilitator and trainer based in Trenton, NJ. Enjoys thinking about and writing on all these topics and more. Favorite quote: "Life is uncertain - eat dessert first!"
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