Update of the input-output alignment model

In the post Aligning inputs and outputs of a change campaign I mentioned that I used the Kirkpatrick Four Levels as an inspiration but it wasn’t really clear in what way. I have therefore updated the model to show where the levels are and how to view them within a change process, campaign or project.

What we start with is the below picture that shows all inputs aligning and building upon each other to support that one specific output and end-result.

aligned-inputs-outputs

If we then want to use this more as a template connected to the Kirkpatricks four levels we get the picture below.

input-output-kirkpatricks-four-levels

Worth noting is that I’m grouping all L1 and L2 events as input along with, what I see as the most important event, the Level 3 Required drivers.

Output are the leading indicators, milestones and targets (L4), as well as the critical behaviors themselves (L3).

Implications of the input-output model on us L&D people

What’s important to not forget in all this is that while getting all your levels to align is nice and all, the only thing that counts is getting to B. What I mean by that is that you might get a few leading indicators showing and some critical behaviors going, i.e. the Kirkpatrick’s chain of evidence, but that STILL doesn’t amount to much if the change project won’t arrive at its end-result, getting from A to B.

For example, in the analysis we’ve gotten A and B down as well as a bunch of leading indicators and critical behaviors to go with these. When the project is done we’re pleased to see that all of our leading indicators came through and their critical behaviors got spurred by great training, communication, motivation and other internal marketing tricks. However, when we’re looking at B, the end-result, things doesn’t look as great as we’d hoped. After a deeper analysis it’s shown that some of the leading indicators actually didn’t have a big enough effect on the end-result. Some of our critical behaviors also weren’t successful because in the end they weren’t possible to perform!

This project isn’t a bust anyhow of course! Now we know what didn’t work despite our good intentions. Change is an iterative process that needs feedback to be perfected.

My point is that a project result can never be assessed based on any of the levels’ results themselves. It’s always the end-result that matter, not the reaction, learning, behavior or indicators, i.e. inputs and outputs. All of these are estimates on what’s needed, not reality.

I think that what we all should be focusing on in the future is behavioral change, not learning, skills or ability. What we DO makes a difference, not what we COULD do. That said, without the possibility to fail and analyse the mistakes one could never aspire to actually succeed. Several iterations and trials are always needed. What most L&D departments do wrong, besides everything else, is that they assume they’ve got all bases covered and therefore delivers one solution one time.

Let’s all start this over by assuming we’ve got no bases covered and that we actually don’t know at all what the end-result will be. Then we might want to analyse and measure things a bit more thoroughly.