Written by Richard Gadd on 3 April 2018

It was when browsing the online pages of TJ that I first came across the author Martyn Sloman, who's books A Handbook for Training Strategy (1999), and The Changing World of the Trainer; Emerging Good Practice (2007), I have since purchased.  In his books, Martyn questions the validity of the traditional Systematic Training Model.  He suggested that a shift had taken place from training to learning, that training was being decentralised to business units, that learning solutions needed to be structured to meet individual needs, and that adherence to any linear training model was no longer acceptable.  I agree with him and wonder why it has taken some organisations so long to adapt.

My own interest was pricked by an analysis of the Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT), which is not only modelled on the original Systematic Training Model (Requirement, Design, Delivery, and Evaluation), but incorporates the Kirkpatrick (1975) Model of Evaluation (Reaction, Learning, Behaviour, and Results).  In my opinion, the DSAT Model not only lacks the flexibility to respond quickly and effectively to emerging trends and developments, but fails to acknowledge the prerequisite Knowledge, Skills and Experience (KSE) required by specialist practitioners employed in analysing, designing and developing learning interventions, and lacks a strategic approach to training assurance. Too often, emphasis is placed upon the training provider, and regular course questionnaires confirm students contentment with delivery.  Whether any more effective evaluation takes place beyond the classroom is unclear, whether changes in behaviours or impact on business outputs are critically assessed, or whether 'evaluation' is simply used to justify the retention of expensive courses and instructors.

One size no longer fits all, and in an age of acute resource shortfalls and technological advancement, I believe we must become more intelligent in our identification, design, provision and evaluation of future learning practices.  I believe individual learners should accept more responsibility for their own development, and be prepared to have their KSE to be externally validated on occasion.  Greater care should be exercised to align learning to business needs, and less emphasis placed on the pursuit of traditional learning pathways which do not demonstrably add value to the organisation.  I'd welcome the introduction of a more resource-based strategy, shifting the emphasis away from the methodical and sequential approach of the Systematic Training Model, to a more adaptive strategy, better aligned with market conditions, focusing on the development of core and funded business capabilities.  As more learning is delivered online, I'd also welcome increased investment in the professionalisation of formulation and evaluation functions.

I'd suggest that adherence to the Systematic Training Model, which originated from the US military in the 1960s as Instructional Systems Design (ISD), is no longer fit for purpose, even in the British military.  A more flexible and intuitive approach is now required which supports, accelerates and directs learning interventions that "meet organisational needs and are appropriate to the learner and context" (Sloman, 2007).


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