Why this focus on learning and training mr Kirkpatrick?

I really do like the ideas in The New World Kirkpatrick Model but there are some things that are contradictory or just seem wrong. Most of us have seen the old 4 levels of yore; Level 1: Reaction, Level 2: Learning, Level 3: Behavior and Level 4: Results. What strikes me as odd is that they are not really grounded in today’s world of performance change, even though they’re called “The New World Kirkpatrick Model”.

Why? Most of Kirkpatrick’s critics look at that Level 2 heading and goes “Ah, it’s all just about training. Ignore and move on…”. I know that the method was developed with training measurement as its focus but it shouldn’t be that anymore and least of all when it’s called “New World”.

A quick look at my previous posts Aligning inputs and output of a change campaign (and its Update) as well as the one called How L&D became masters of doing the wrong thing (and of course plain common sense) makes it pretty obvious there’s more to it than sending people off to training to get a better result. What’s interesting is that a quick look at the Kirkpatrick Partners web page shows you that they agree! Level 2: Learning incorporates classic stuff as Knowledge and Skills (all good and jolly Learning) but also Attitude, Confidence and Commitment, i.e. things you really can’t expect anyone to learn right?

If we take a closer look as how to the Kirkpatrick’s explain their Level 2 this contradiction looks even stranger:

To what degree participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and commitment based on their participation in a training event

This explanation doesn’t say anything about learning stuff but more acquiring it and, also of course, to what extent. Why isn’t Level 2 just renamed “Level 2: Acquiring” then? I don’t know but I guess it’s something to do with keeping a connection to the past just as like RadioShack is still called just that. Come to think of it, I think that there are a lot of people today that don’t know what a radio is. It’s all streamed or mp3s today. Also, I guess that RadioShack sell infinite more of other things than the plain old radio these days…

To end this rant about things contradictory about the Kirkpatrick model I’d like to finish with this:

…based on their participation in a training event

…apply what they learned during training

…outcomes occur as a result of the training event

A lot of training events here even though the Kirkpatricks are masters of preparation and follow-up, don’t you think? In my mind there isn’t anything called training events anymore since there should always be things before and after the event. These put together can even be more important than the event itself. The Kirkpatricks know this since they explained and stressed as much in their Bronze certification training.

Why not call all training “performance programs” or something similar instead? It’s a positive term and and indicates a long-term involvement of both the instructor/facilitator and the participant.

Hey, other than this I love the model mr Kirkpatrick!

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