An article recently published by Chief Learning Officer offers two reasons why long-term learning or change initiatives are not successful.

First, “solutions may be disconnected from business outcomes and results.” As I described in a recent post, ISPI’s first performance standard is focusing on results.  Employing a certified performance technologist will help ensure you achieve the results you desire.

The second reason is programs that are compliance focused.  “In [these] cases, attendees comply with programs, yet they yield little to no effect on the bottom line.”  Unfortunately corporate training is full of these programs.  Much of it is driven by risk management and a one-size-fits-all approach.

We’ve all seen it, harassment training, conducting performance reviews, time management, the list goes on.  The big picture of this approach is passing responsibility to the participant.  If something goes wrong or a person does not perform as expected or desired all you have to do is look at their training record to see if they have completed the required programs.  If the training didn’t take, have them repeat it.  After all, the problem couldn’t be the training, right?

I want to offer another reason.  In my experience training does not achieve the desired results because it focuses on the content and not on the individual.  I often describe this as the difference between training and learning.

Training is a strategy.  It is a means to an end.  But what is the end?  Learning.  But what is learning?  How do you know when learning takes place?

Simply stated, learning is a change in behavior, knowledge, or attitude.  Notice the emphasis here.  A person’s behavior can change.  A person’s can acquire knowledge. A person’s attitude can change. But the key to creating learning interventions that lead to the changes listed above you must know what evidence the learner will demonstrate to show they really changed.  Like choosing fruit over a donut.