Organizational Effectiveness: Evolution of Training

By Adams, Wendy | Policy & Practice, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Organizational Effectiveness: Evolution of Training


Adams, Wendy, Policy & Practice


The quest for effectiveness is centuries old. Plato wrote about the correlation of system processes around 300 A.D. and spoke of "what we put into something" should reflect "what we get out of it." Peter Drucker, a more recent thought leader, struck upon the idea of developing knowledge workers, recognizing that only in the most recent hundred or so years have we been provided with almost limitless choices. His summation: the greater the knowledge--the greater the choices and decisions. Training became the organizational response to improvement and effectiveness.

Donald Kirkpatrick, author and academic, considered that developing knowledge could be more useful if measured within the context of application. Publishing first in 1959 and again in the late 1990s, he professed that as long as there was a systematic approach to learning, training events could be measured. The systematic approach defined the learner (for the first time) as a key success element in the process of relevant learning transfer and application of that learning within the organization.

According to research conducted by Swanson and Dobbs, the future of training (and all organizational learning) lies within systematic and systemic approaches. They say that the more training contributes to the core business, the more it is valued. Therefore, in light of lesser evidence of this combined contribution, it is more likely that training will be reduced or eliminated. Simply put, the systematic and systemic approach is about survival of the OE goal and the organizations it serves. Swanson and Dobbs rely on the systematic ADDIE learning development model (analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate) within the context of organizational requirement as married to the systemic choices of analysis and evaluation in order to build and sustain expertise.

Organizational effectiveness largely depends on the good decisions and actions of individuals within a complex system. It is the concept of how capable an organization is in achieving the results the organization intends to produce. Organizational effectiveness considers Plato's observation of "what you put in, you get out," and factors in Drucker's insistence for knowledge workers; the building of intellectual capability with decision-making expertise. It also honors measurement as achieved through systematic processes while prescribing the need for both a systemic and systematic commitment within the strategy.

So, how does training evolve? By being viewed more as a strategy than a solution. Performance may rely less on participants' satisfaction and more on the relevance of the learning as applied within practice; the readiness and capability of the worker to do the job right, to make the right decisions; the right choices. …

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