The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning | Calhoun W. Wick

Summary of: The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results
By: Calhoun W. Wick


Dive into the summary of ‘The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning’ by Calhoun W. Wick and discover how to turn your corporate training and development programs into tangible business results. This summary highlights the importance of setting clear business objectives for training programs, engaging employees in the learning process, and ensuring the effective transfer and application of acquired knowledge. Learn how to avoid common mistakes that hinder the financial and performance impact of training initiatives, and explore the role of follow-through management in achieving a strong return on investment in the world of business.

Essential Disciplines for Effective Corporate Training

For successful training and development programs, corporations should prioritize six essential disciplines. These include clarifying expectations, shared learning experiences, ongoing feedback, empowerment of trainers, reinforcement, and support from senior leadership. By prioritizing these disciplines, corporations can ensure that their training programs are effective and valuable for all employees.

Training for Business Outcomes

Create training and development programs that focus on achieving specific business outcomes and measurable results. Before planning education and development initiatives, consider the business needs they will meet, the skills that will be acquired, and how performance improvement will be determined and documented. Avoid common training mistakes such as neglecting line leader input, confusing means and ends, and focusing on training activity rather than delivering on measurable results. Get input from managers and employees to determine the highest-priority training targets and ensure that training has a positive impact on the particular problem you’re trying to solve. By establishing verifiable outcomes of relevance to the business and rejecting “action without analysis,” you can develop ROI metrics that demonstrate the financial rewards of your training and development efforts. Remember, learning is not an event, it is a process.

Effective Corporate Learning

Effective corporate learning involves more than classroom activity. It emphasizes knowledge transfer, the practical application of knowledge, to achieve business objectives. Corporate learning has three phases: pre-instruction, training, and knowledge transfer and application.

The pre-instruction phase is critical to a successful training program. Managers play a pivotal role in establishing expectations. Participants with low expectations will derive little from training, while those with high expectations will benefit more. Get management on board early, as their perception of the training program will significantly influence how employees perceive it. Participants must view upcoming training as a privilege and be prepared adequately with pre-course readings or other learning activities.

Training requires thorough planning by course designers using a clear, if-then approach with financial goals. Course designers must start with a business objective and work backward to achieve it. For example, if sales need to increase, then sales managers must become better coaches. Therefore, they must see how professional coaches operate and receive helpful guidance as they practice these new techniques.

The final stage is knowledge “transfer and application,” which is the raison d’être of the training program. Active reinforcement is essential to transfer learning effectively. Supervisors must encourage managers to lead employees to apply their new skills and use predetermined metrics to judge the program’s effectiveness. Content developers can test a training program by asking on behalf of the learners, “Is it clear how this material relates to my work?” and “Would I know how to use what is being taught?”

Bridging the Gap between Learning and Application

Corporate training can be a waste of time if participants fail to transfer knowledge to their jobs. To bridge the “learning-doing gap,” trainers should focus on application-focused delivery techniques. This includes simulations, practice sessions, and active learning to make training more relevant. Trainers should also explicitly connect training with business outcomes to increase motivation and ensure applicability. Intelligent debriefing after simulations can demonstrate a new technique’s usefulness. Other components such as learning journals and elevator speeches can reinforce learning and help track progress. The goal is to make sure that every training initiative produces a positive financial return, directly or indirectly. Participants and trainers alike should treat training goals as seriously as business targets, defining objectives in writing, sharing them with managers, and monitoring progress. By doing so, companies ensure that their managers can learn faster than their competitors, giving them a competitive advantage in the future.

Follow-through Management for Effective Training Programs

Training programs must have adequate follow-through management practices to achieve business objectives. The strategy involves setting expectations for participants and managers, gathering and analyzing data, providing reminders and accountability, giving feedback, and delivering consequences. Commercial follow-through management systems are available to assist businesses in implementing the steps for successful training programs. Participants must be made responsible for applying newly acquired knowledge, and managers must evaluate their progress in becoming more productive. Follow-through is vital to ensure the success of training programs.

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