A lesson every L&D professional should take from the Colin Kaepernick controversy

Colin Kaepernick

A funny thing happened to Colin Kaepernick recently: everyone now has an opinion of him.

If you haven’t heard about the Colin Kaepernick controversy, choose only one of the following articles about him and then let me know what you think of him:

Article 1 (San Francisco police officers’ point of view)

Article 2 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s point of view)

What do you think? Do you like what he’s done? Is he to be celebrated? Or do you think he’s committed an awful, ignorant, naive, perhaps even unforgivable offense?

People are forming all sorts of opinions not necessarily based upon Kaepernick’s actual actions, but rather based upon what they’re favorite talking heads are saying.

When our learners hear an opinion about our latest training course before they even have a chance to think for themselves, it can be a very dangerous proposition for L&D professionals. And there’s research that shows why this can be a bad thing.   Continue reading

Tired of presenters who miss the mark? Show them what they’ll be evaluated on!

Last week I sat with a colleague, walking through her line-up of speakers for an upcoming conference. She asked if I had any suggestions to help the presenters deliver more effective presentations.

It’s an age-old, intractable question. Do conference speakers (or consultants who may come into your organization to train your staff on one specific topic) really care?   Continue reading

Looking for some training inspiration? Try these sources…

Lightning in a bottle

I’ve been on the road a lot recently, and I realized I’ve been recycling a lot of my go-to ideas for a variety of projects. The airline miles, the steady diet of fast food, the jet lag, the unnecessary late nights flipping through tv channels instead of going to sleep just because I have access to a tv with HBO, the simple busy-ness of being on the road – it can all conspire to wear me down after a while and leave me looking around desperately for some fresh, new ideas.

Following are several sources of new ideas that have given me a boost over the past several weeks. Hopefully you can find some inspiration in here somewhere, too!   Continue reading

Want to improve your organization’s training? Some people may be suspicious of your intent.


Readers of the Train Like a Champion blog will not be surprised that I am smitten with Will Thalheimer’s new book, Performance-focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Re-thinking of a Dangerous Art Form.

You can read a review of why every training professional should read this book here, and you can see several examples of how I integrated concepts from the book by having my own post-training evaluation forms undergo an extreme makeover here.

It just makes sense. Better post-evaluation questions lead to better analysis of the value of a training program, right? So it was with some surprise that I was pulled aside recently and asked to explain myself for all the changes I’d made to our evaluation forms. Continue reading

Extreme Make-over: Smile Sheet Edition

Eval Form Cover Image

A few weeks ago I finished reading Will Thalheimer’s book, Performance-focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Artform (here’s my brief review of the book).

A colleague recently made fun of me, suggesting that I read “geeky books” in my spare time. That would be true if I just read books about smile sheets for fun. And while I did have fun reading this book (so I guess I am kind of geeky), I’ve been attempting to integrate lessons learned from the book into my work.

Following are two examples of improvements I’ve made on existing smile sheets, and the logic behind the changes (based upon my interpretation of the book):  Continue reading

Book Review: Will Thalheimer’s Performance-focused Smile Sheets

Performance-focused Smile Sheets

102-word Summary: “The ideas in this book are freakin’ revolutionary.” So Will Thalheimer begins chapter 9 of his book. It’s hard to argue against the statement. In a world where the vast majority of training is evaluated on a 1-5 Likert-style post-training evaluation form, Will Thalheimer proposes a different way to perform a basic-level assessment of a training program. His thesis: while “smile sheets” aren’t the be all and end all of training evaluation, they’re the most common type of evaluation, so if we’re going to have our learners fill them out, we may as well get some good, useful, actionable information from them.  Continue reading

When measuring training, don’t just stop at the first metric you can find.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week curled up by the fireplace, reading a gripping, suspenseful, page-turner of a book entitled Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Artform, written by Will Thalheimer.

Be on the lookout for a full book review once I’ve finished it. For today, however, I want to explore one specific area of the book that Will talks about early on: the difference between awareness training and performance training.

Will describes awareness training as conveying “information to learners but doesn’t provide sufficient support for remembering or on-the-job application.”

Performance training “provides remembering and application support – and aims to improve on-the-job performance.”

As I reflect on the past several years, I’ve certainly been frustrated by how often I’ve intended to design performance training that demonstrates some sort of measurable return on the training investment, only to see the end result more of an awareness training that exposed people to concepts that they never ended up applying on the job.

Recently I’ve begun to ask several questions when someone comes to me and asks for help designing training for their team or for a specific audience. Continue reading