Posts Tagged ‘outcome’

Prophesising facilitation?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post arguing that training can never be exceptional. In short, this is because training is an output – whereas it is the outcome which is of value. I’m not sure whether people agreed with me or not, but it is actually my most read post so it has been at least of interest to people.

I do believe, though, that training (the output) can vary considerably dependent upon a number of factors, perhaps the most important of which is the trainer or facilitator.

A few years ago I was introduced to the work of the poet Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), and in particular his book “The Prophet”.  The book comprises 26 short essays where the Prophet speaks to the crowds on a number of subjects.

As for Gibran himself, he was an American-Lebanese writer, and is the third best-selling poet of all time behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu – so there is a good chance you will already know about him.

I really enjoy his short essays as they say so much – and so succinctly. One of the essays relates his thoughts on ‘Teaching’. He tells the crowd:

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind. The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.

And even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.”

I just love that! What do you think of it? As I said at the start, the essay is about ‘Teaching’, but the term ‘Facilitation’ in relation to developing others had not been coined when Gibran published his book in 1923, but in my eyes it sums up facilitated learning beautifully.

And he makes it sound so simple! In less than 200 words he has given a wonderful account of what differentiates a poor trainer or facilitator from a great one. And within that word count the Prophet has included examples, together with visual, auditory and kinesthetic references thus appealing to the different learning styles within the crowd.

If more trainers, coaches, managers and the like went with the view that all the people they work with have all this ability which, “lies half asleep in the dawning of (their) knowledge”, what would be the effect? Too often such people are judged as opposed to being given the opportunity; closed down as opposed to being encouraged to grow – not the led to the, “threshold of (their) own mind”.

If you think there are any aspects missing, what are they? What additional sentence might you add?


Deliver Outcomes, not Outputs

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Where at all possible, I try and steer clear of discussing governmental politics. This is because I don’t really want to be perceived to have particular party allegiances. But rules, as with policies and directions from Sat-navs, are there to be broken where there is good reason – they exist to provide effective guidance for the majority of situations as opposed to the answer for all situations.

I am very interested by the Business Plans that the ruling coalition has published this week (I feel like a very sad person as I write that, but please bear with me …).  It’s the approach behind some of the Plans that I find particularly interesting.

When the coalition first came to power, they talked about financially rewarding private contractors for ‘housing’ prisoners and stopping them reoffending – whereas currently they are paid for merely ‘housing’ them for the duration of their sentences.  As someone who is very keen on the use of outcomes rather than outputs, I found this very refreshing.

More detail on this approach has now been published – it is within the Ministry of Justice Business Plan which was published last Monday. The first two objectives within that particular Business Plan are:

1.1 Develop an overall strategy for the ‘rehabilitation revolution’ for adults and youths, including paying local private and voluntary organisations by results.

1.2 Introduce payment by results schemes, working with local, voluntary and private sector organisations that specialise in the rehabilitation of offenders.

I am interested in this approach as I believe that society as a whole should move more towards an outcome focussed approach to business. This is particularly true of learning and development providers – and clients.

If a client seeks and purchases a course, event or programme to address a particular area or aspect of business, it is likely that it will be delivered and there may well be a short end of event questionnaire. It is rare, in my experience, that there is much further evaluation of the benefits of the event.

So, how about the client publicises the issues or skills they require addressing on the event and these are then quantified into measurable outcomes (not outputs).  The provider who then gains the contract only gets paid once these targets have been achieved – perhaps 6 months after the event. The probable consequences would include:

  • A greater focus on outcomes as opposed to outputs.
  • Only providers who have confidence in their abilities bidding for the contract.
  • Clients ensuring and demonstrating value for their money.
  • Far greater interest by clients, providers and delegates’ line managers as to how the learning is put into practice in the workplace.

Who wouldn’t want these consequences?

So why does this approach generally not happen at the moment?


Is ‘e hurt, man?

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Well, it certainly looked like he was hurting to me. He looked like he could hardly stand up, never mind play tennis. I’m referring to John Isner the American tennis player, one half of the record breaking duo (the other being France’s Nicolas Mahut) whose final set at Wimbledon yesterday went to 59-59 in games before bad light forced a break in proceedings. And it has already broken so many records – longest match ever (10 hours) most aces in a match (193) – and there are more, but I’ll stop there.  All those record breaking outputs, but they will lead to only one outcome (hopefully later today) which will be one of them winning the match. And that is what will be recorded in the competition.

As a trainer, I know that I have been too interested in outputs in the past, and I now see trainers who are too focussed on them. I understand that it can be difficult to see beyond the session or course itself as we care passionately about what we do and get very involved in it. I know it’s great to come up with an inspirational methodology, a role play that explores the affective domain or a great set of PowerPoint slides. But these are all outputs. We need to focus on the outcome. By increasing our focus on the outcome, the methodology becomes more meaningful and business orientated.

When one of the players was interviewed when leaving the court yesterday evening he said, “I’ll be interested to see the stats.” Again, as trainers, we are interested in “the stats” we usually get at the conclusion of any session or course – normally provided through some sort of evaluation questionnaire. We need to move beyond this, too.

What we should really be interested in is our delegates’ (and their managers) responses to the statement, “As a result of this learning event, I have (they have) improved my (their) performance within the workplace.” Followed by, “This is evidenced by …”. If this question is posed to delegates 3 months after the event, I would expect effective delivery to achieve at least 85% agreeing with this statement. Anything less and there are potentially issues with the event, the people being nominated for it or the post-event support delegates are receiving in the workplace. That is a true outcome, one which is meaningful to the organisation and one which enables the trainer to really demonstrate their worth. It also starts the process of examining and quantifying the return on the investment for the event (ROI).  Essential in the current economic climate.

How can you make your events or your trainers’ events more outcome focussed? What can managers do to ensure that their events are delivering meaningful outcomes? I’d be interested in your views – or the views of delegates.

Oh, and the title of this post? It’s an anagram of the two players’ names. Well, you have to find something to do when watching a 118 game final set of a tennis match …