Bigwigs and Stinking ThinkingA big job had presented itself at training towers. The bigwigs had attended a continuous improvement seminar where they had been publicly embarrassed by the ring masters for their stinking thinking.

The big wigs arrived at training towers and the gnomes were summoned. During a verbal thrashing the gnomes were told to put out to tender a management development programme.

I’ve just finished writing a proposal for a management development programme.

Provided with a list of fluffy objectives that could only have been written by an inebriated gnome with a very low threshold for success. These managers will demonstrate success when they can “acknowledge expectations of them” and “comprehend that leadership is about being true to self” – So what I thought!….

The basic reason for providing learning and development is to ensure that employee’s are able to carry out their current role. Some of the training is mandatory to ensure legal or compliance standards. But much of the training is discretionary where organisations appreciate the added value that they will gain from having highly skilled and knowledgeable employees.

Learning Transfer

However, provision of learning and development opportunities alone does not mean that an organisation will be more productive and effective. There are so many other factors to consider including the enablers ot inhibitors for learning transfer in the environment in which the performance will take place.

Training programmes are effective only to the extent that the skills and behaviours learned and practised are actually transferred to the workplace and that opportunity is created for that to happen.


Given this set of fluffy objectives I thought where is the value to the business of managers who can “Acknowledge, Know and Comprehend”? How will acknowledgement and comprehension make any difference?

It’s a little like putting a heart rate monitor on a corpse.

Training evaluation can be described as comparing the actual and real with the predicted or promised which emphasises the need to reflect on what was achieved in comparison to what was hoped for across a range of variables. This information equips us to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of particular training measures as a way of achieving organisational and personal objectives.

As a learning designer my business survives because the worth of my products can be proven in terms of business benefit. But I’m up against it because evaluation is the least well thought through or conducted aspect of all training activities. What is more worrying is that I encounter this lack of thought about business value far more in public sector organisations.
Surely effective evaluation is an essential part of part of an accountable, and ethical public service, and fundamental to good governance,

I urge Learning and development departments to take the baton to be accountable, to engage in conversations about getting business value from training I fear that the current economic climate and its focus on public sector expenditure demands this focus and this focus on evaluation will lead to cost savings.

Little Value from Bigwigs? Change Your Stinking Thinking

As I stand here before the panel waiting to pitch my proposal I am introduced to the bigwigs. I can’t help but think about where bigwigs originated. Big wigs were expensive to purchase and were worn by powerful people for almost 2 centuries 1500-1700. Over time the wigs became bigger, often to the point of absurdity and many required scaffolding.