Hope and Joy Amidst the Fire

January 16, 2019

2019’s New Year Message

At the beginning of 2018, I delivered a strong message about the dark path I saw our training industry heading down if significant changes were not made. The message is, sadly, still very relevant.

This year, I offer additional tactics and encouragement to assist you in having the most productive year possible.

Fire and Joy

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and theologian who lived from 1623 to 1662. He is known for many contributions to math and science, including Pascal’s triangle.

He had a rough life. Plagued by unknown medical issues (likely tuberculosis, stomach cancer, and brain lesions), he died at age 39. 
Near the end of his life, some life-changing words allegedly came to him in a dream. He was so struck by them that he wrote them down on a piece of paper and sewed it into his coat. It was only by chance that a servant found it after his death. Though there are several versions of what it said, the most popular is, “Joy, joy, joy. Fire, fire, fire. Joy, fire, joy, fire. Unspeakable joy.”

I have thought about those words, the meaning they have for me, and how they might be useful for you. Here is my interpretation for the training community. 

The New World Kirkpatrick Model flies in the face of traditional training and evaluation. It may not be as disruptive as the work of Pascal, but using it can inspire some of the same “fire” Pascal experienced. 

The New World Kirkpatrick Model is based on a business partnership approach to learning, performance and business results. Contrast this with the prevalent emphasis on formal training events, competencies, automated learning, and hoped-for results

A Better Approach to Evaluation

In our world, evaluation does not stop with smile sheets (Level 1 Reaction), testing (Level 2 Learning), and 90-day surveys (Level 3 Behavior). We use a Blended Evaluation approach, in which data are collected from multiple sources using multiple methods, in a blended fashion that considers all four Kirkpatrick levels.

This approach yields actionable truth as opposed to trivial benchmarks. It is only through the truth about what is, or is not, working in the classroom and in the field, and the application of critical on-the-job behaviors, that significant business and mission results can be realized. 

Your work does not need to be as groundbreaking as that of Pascal, but you can still learn from his experience.  Going against tradition is not without its heartaches. Those who put their trust in training events, competencies, testing outcomes, and esoteric survey data to bring about success will likely be threatened by the new world approach. There will likely be “fire”.

Initiating Business Partnership

My encouragement for those of you who are bold enough to step out of the norm and adapt your approach to something with a chance of working is to stay the course.

  1. Surround yourself with forward-thinking people.
  2. Be humble of spirit and bold for the mission.
  3. Build processes and relationships with line managers and senior business leaders who are open-minded and mission-minded.
  4. Be purposeful and deliberate about your evaluation methods to capture and leverage the truth.

Joy will come from the heightened meaning of your work when it aligns with the organization you serve. Collectively drive performance change. Celebrate and showcase successes. Stay the course through the “fire.” Joy will come. Perhaps, unspeakable joy.

Joy. Unspeakable Joy.

Examples of joy abound using this business partnership approach. Here are a few to inspire you:

Maryland Transit Administration reducing bus accidents and claims

The Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership Knowledge Services (APPEL KS) program, which focused on a curriculum of formal classroom training related to the fundamentals of project management, developing a learning and performance path specifically designed to contribute to future NASA mission safety and success.

Adults with intellectual disabilities in Christ Church, New Zealand becoming self-sufficient

Emirates Airlines reducing call center complaints by 60% while improving customer service levels

Take the First Step

You can be among the future success stories.

Please reach out to me if I can help.

Additional Resources

L&D’s Unmodified Future: Better Sharpen Your Resume – 2018’s New Year Message

Jim Kirkpatrick’s New Year Message: Make 2020 a ReNEWal Year – 2020’s New Year Message

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation

Creating ROE: The End Is the Beginning

Kirkpatrick Foundational Principles

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