50 Years of evidence: training doesn’t work!
1988- Baldwin & Ford “a growing recognition of a ‘transfer problem’ ….. American industries annually spend up to $100 billion on training and development, not more than 10% result in transfer to the job.”
2001- Brinkerhoff and Apking “Almost all organizational training is a marginal intervention and has only slight effects on performance improvement.”
Is it time we build training that is designed for transfer?
In the Cafe, the learning is organized to capitalize on recent brain research which suggest that learning is a physical process of changing the wiring in our brains. This takes time and does not happen in the classroom setting itself. This is why so often people are not any different after they’ve attended training, especially training that focuses on interpersonal skills, where there is already wiring (ingrained habits) in the brain.
The classroom is one component of the Cafe. It is critical because this is where we practice skills to feel we can safely and confidently take them back to our team. But the real work of a Cafe happens AFTER the classroom and some work actually happens before the Cafe too. Weeks of drills and practices are structured to help learners integrate what they have learned. Support is provided by a sponsor who coaches and offers feedback and encouragement. There is a virtual community where learners report in on the drills and support and encourage each other.
Finally, there is a feedback loop built in this process so learning can be transferred. Imagine you are working with a tennis or golf coach. Each week you get a lesson but you continue to do it the old way. All the lessons in the world will not change your approach…you need feedback on how you are applying the new skills. In the workplace, this feedback is best when it comes from people who see you use these skills. Your direct reports, your managers, members of a project team, etc. They are in a position to observe you in action and help you make adjustments on what they see.
These feedback loops can be compared to your baseline behavior (measured before the developmental process begins) to measure progress and see where work still needs to happen.