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Five types of learning and development; which one is for you

It is my strong suggestion that a commissioning manager should have a good understanding of what performance gaps need to be closed within their team or department. This will form the basis for defining what learning and development is required.

This article introduces a commissioning manager to the, dare I say revelation, that not all training activities are the same. Seeing a group of managers in a training room provides little or no indication as to what is the purpose or expected result of the intervention.

A commissioning manager spending upwards of £1,000 per day on an activity needs to be certain about what is expected, therefore needs to know what type of intervention will meet the objectives set out in the requirement definition?

There are five different types of implementation that might result in a group of managers attending a training course; each valid, but each with very different objectives and results.

  • Input
    The implementation is focused on the desired process
    CPD requirement state a need for two days of management instruction per year
  • Brand
    The implementation is governed by a particular supplier of or awarding body for the process
    The CEO has mandated that all managers are to undertake a level 7 institute course
  • Technical
    The implementation is governed by the technical nature of the learning
    Due to new processes, senior managers need to know about a particular management model
  • Output
    The implementation is driven by what is desired from a process
    Internal promotion is only available to managers who have achieved a level 7 accreditation
  • Outcome
    The implementation is driven by a business result from a desired process
    Business pressure has indicated a need to increase staff attendance by 10% within 12 months

Evaluating the success of each of the above implementation processes will be different.

Input and Brand can be evaluated by merely checking attendance.

Technical and Output require some sort of examination of knowledge acquisition at completion of the learning process.

It is only the Outcome option that specifies a business impact and examines whether the learning has made any difference. As such, an Outcome implementation will require an evaluation within the effected part of the organisation and probably a period of time after the learning and development event took place.

Brand and Technical activities are likely to be very prescriptive in the development methodology. Input and Output have more flexibility in how the objective for an event is achieved.

It is only with Outcome based objectives where the methodology of achieving the outcomes is irrelevant. For instance; if as a result of a learning and development project the organisation reduces absenteeism by 10%; who cares what type of event or learning and development activity was implemented to achieve the result.

Confirming that a 10% reduction in absenteeism has taken place might be a challenge and will require a particular quantitative evaluation methodology. One potential evaluation methodology suitable for Outcome based objectives might be Robert O. Brinkerhoff’s - Success Case Methodology (Brinkerhoff 2002).

With a commissioning manager’s growing level of understanding about how a requirement to source a new learning and development provider might be put together it is worth considering the different channels frequented by the different types of practitioners. By making this consideration a commissioning manager will strengthen the likelihood that their contracting procedure will be more successful and efficient than if they had scattered an ill defined brief a to the four corners of the learning and development marketplace. Channels to market is the subject of another article.

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Peter Mayes

Peter Mayes. Peter Mayes is the founder and editor of TrainerBase; dedicated to helping business and other organisations find trainers and trainers find business. Contact details: Tel 07970 746077

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