Robert Brinkerhoff's Success Case Method identifies best practices so they can be replicated. Build a business case for improving the results of an existing learn program by comparing the most successful learners to the rest of the participants.
- Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluation and the Phillips ROI Model are the most well known training evaluation models, but the Success Case Method is another approach worth exploring. The Success Case Method was developed by Robert Brinkerhoff to address a common challenge. In most training programs, a few participants do much better than others. Here's the results for a typical training program. The Success Case Method identifies what the people on the far right of the curve are doing differently, so we can get everyone else to do that too.
To use the Success Case Method you build what's called an impact model. This starts with the business goals for the training and then works backwards. The impact model creates a clear map of how the training can benefit the business. Let's look at an example. Let's say a real estate company wants to train its building engineers to maintain their buildings in an environmentally friendly way. We start by looking at the goal for this program. Buildings use a lot of electricity, so let's say the business goal is to reduce energy costs by 30%.
Next, we need to identify the results building engineers need to achieve to reach our goal, perhaps there's a new maintenance schedule that engineers must follow. Then, we need to determine what behaviors will deliver those results. For example, we might need engineers to install energy efficient LED lightbulbs, adjust building temperatures, and replace inefficient equipment in an effort to cut power usage. Finally, we can narrow down the specific training that's needed.
In this case, the engineers will need training on the new maintenance procedures. Constructing a model like this allows us to conduct a success case study after the training. Once again, we start by looking at the overall goals. It looks like 25% of the buildings achieved the 30% efficiency goal, 50% got halfway there with a 15% reduction in energy costs, and 25% had no change. Now, we need to identify how we can generate more value from this project.
For example, how can we get the 50% of buildings that had a 15% energy savings to save 30%? The key lies in investigating what each group is doing differently. For example, we might discover that the group who only achieved a 15% savings did not replace aging equipment in their buildings. We could follow up to find out what this didn't happen. Perhaps there wasn't room in the budgets at these buildings and the engineers struggled to make a business case for spending money on the new equipment.
We could then follow up with those engineers to help them create the cost-benefit analysis that might help them pitch the investment to their boss. This model addresses two persistent problems. First, participants don't always implement everything they learn in training. This leaves value on the table. And second, there are often factors outside of the participant's control that make it difficult for them to take advantage of the training the received. You can use the Success Case Method to identify these issues and learn how to improve the value of your training programs.
Check the exercise files for sample evaluation plans, reports, checklists, and worksheets that you can use to evaluate your own employee development program.
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- Common learning assessment models: Kirkpatrick, Phillips, Brinkerhoff, and alternatives
- Identifying expectations
- Collecting data
- Analyzing data
- Making recommendations