The Book Corner - Review

Training on Trial: How Workplace Learning Must Reinvent Itself to Remain Relevant by James D. Kirkpatrick, PhD and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick

Training on Trial: How Workplace Learning Must Reinvent Itself to Remain Relevant

By James D. Kirkpatrick, PhD and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick
AMACOM, 2010


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2 stars: Read this book if and when you have the time

This book addresses the age-old adage that training budgets are always among the first budget items to get cut during difficult economic times. It explores training from both the in-house and outside consultant’s perspective. The authors consider continuous learning and employee development training activities and argue that those in the field must develop “compelling evidence” that training actually provides both the organization and individual employee with “bottom-line” results.

The Kirkpatrick’s chose a courtroom trial as the metaphor to explore the contention that training fails to make an adequate enough impact upon business to justify its costs. They actually explore the issues by “refuting” the charges with arguments that are provided to the reader that in turn can be made to the “jury,” i.e. management.

Early on in the discussion it is acknowledged that there is a significant amount of research that suggests training and consulting in and of themselves often do not result in positive business outcomes.

The authors contend that they are providing the reader with arguments that will actually serve to demonstrate the tactical and strategic business value of training programs. The Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Model (KBPM) is what they offer. It is a seven-step model. Each step is given a full chapter in the book for explanation. I found the model to be replete with tried and tired clichés such as pledge to work together, refine expectations to define outcomes, necessities for success, and execute the initiative. There are several pie charts and flow diagrams but none them offer any new and innovative approaches to an age-old challenge. There are “tools and tips for your training session.” But in my view, very little is offered that can be legitimately characterized as fresh or of significant value to the in-house and outside consultant training professionals.

A reader who is new to the employee learning and development training field will find value in this book—particularly in the KBPM. The courtroom trial metaphor is interesting but the tools and tips offered are not trailblazing. I rate this book as two stars – read it if and when you have time.