Written by Richard Gadd on 4 May 2018

Adherence to the Systems Approach to Training (SAT) model is considered by some to be 'training' centric, a practice which I believe fails to consider contingent variables such as organisation, vision, mission, culture and values.  In many cases, there is a very tenuous if not non-existent link between training and funded organisational objectives. All too often, organisations delegate responsibility for the delivery of learning to a single department or provider, frequently demanding that training should be undertaken systematically as a condition of career advancement.  In my opinion, learning is a continuous activity for which we are all responsible.  The SAT has been in use since the 1960s however, and might still represent best practice in a benign environment, although academics (Sloman, 1994) and Taylor,1991) have long suggested we can do better.  In my opinion, the complexity, uncertainty, turbulence and risk, inherent in business today, makes the SAT less significant.

I believe that the organisation, structure and subordination of the Training Requirement Authority (TRA), those trusted with the learning needs analysis and assurance, is a fundamental consideration of the Training System.  Its independence, ability to respectfully probe and challenge business strategy, and assure the entire Training System is critical, thereby switching the emphasis from learner satisfaction (still critical) to staff performance, behaviours and the effects on organisational effectiveness..  TRA is surely a strategic function, which should neither be delegated to a subordinate business area, nor trusted to ‘amateurs’.  Only an organisation placed outside the bias of business areas can achieve this.  I believe that a new philosophy therefore is required that promotes constructive challenge and a learning culture, particularly if we ever wish to move beyond blind employee compliance.


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