A Framework to Manage Learning: A Good Fit for SMB Manufacturers

For some business leaders, the changing world is generating unsettling down time. Many are embracing conditions to spawn quality think time. To these energized thinkers, it’s a clean slate event; an opportunity to re-think, re-position, re-deploy, and re-execute.

Leverage your current think-time to position your company for the forthcoming upswing.

This post inspires thinking about SMB, B2B, manufacturing and its approach to learning and development.

Three elements create a robust learning management framework for manufacturers.

1. People

People are your employees. Your mission is to keep your people current with the know-how essential for the work they do.

2. Roles

Roles describe, and categorize, the types of work your people do. Example roles are drill press operator, quality inspector, and shipping coordinator. Job titles are a good starting point to identify roles at your place. You may decide that some job titles may be grouped into coarser roles. For example, “Line 1 Inspector”, “Line 3 Inspector”, and “Finished Goods Inspector” may share a common role – “Inspector”.

3. Topics

Topics are essential subject matter that impact the way work is done. Topics may be presented in myriad ways; online tutorials, instructor led events in a classroom setting, and on-the-job, hands-on, training.

These elements are connected to make the framework continuously work for the organization.

1. People are connected with roles.

2. Roles are connected with relevant topics.

Connections are easy to make. They make the app easy to manage; with simple new employee onboarding and a means to make adjustments along the way.

Here’s a use case for the framework . . .

1. “Alice Taylor” (person) is connected to the “Inspector” (role).

2. The “Inspector” (role) is connected to several topics . . .

“Course 1.5.1-000 All Employee Safety” (topic)
“Course 2.5.1-101 Shop Floor Cleanup” (topic)
“Course 2.5.1-410 Inspection Data Entry” (topic)

When Alice is initially onboarded, and connected to the “Inspector” role, a training status inquiry will show that she needs training in the topics associated with “Inspector”.

Employees w. Roles and Training Status

Alice remains deficient in these topics until she participates in applicable training.

While the framework is simple, robust, and effective, training nuances must be supported.

    • Training can expire.
    • Training gets upgraded, making earlier training obsolete.
    • People change jobs within your organization.
    • New hires need to be brought up to speed quickly.
    • People sometimes need to be cross-trained.
    • Some people have special training requirements.
    • Evaluating training success, and identifying training impact, can be an elusive challenge.

Over the years, we’ve continually tweaked refinements that address industrial training situations. (These pesky nuances.)

We provide novel, flexible, and comprehensive ways to record employee participation in training events.

Training must have impact if it’s to be worth its resource investment – time, money, and employee intervention (interruption). We’ll show you ways to build impact, in both delivery and evaluation, into every training intervention.

We offer no-charge assistance with setup and a quick-start, with your data, to get your business underway.

Our low-cost tools can equip a startup manufacturer to achieve enterprise-sized impact on a shoestring budget.

Why would you manage learning . . .

any . . .

other . . .


Adopt our approach to “learning management”.  Experience ways to stay on top of this sometimes-elusive challenge.  Simple.  Targeted.  Impactful.

    • Simplify the learning function.
    • Pare down related management systems.
    • Lower related costs.
    • Reduce employee learning interventions (interruptions).
    • Sharpen focus on learning with verifiable impact.

Team with Twin Lakes Consulting. We’ll equip you with targeted tools to ensure that employees stay current with essential know-how for them to do their work.

achieve learning impact

Get to know ways you can implement simpler learning management tools, with fewest employee distractions and greatest organizational impact.

A quick call to Twin Lakes Consulting will show how accommodating our versatile app can be for your specific situation.

Call Twin Lakes Consulting today.


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Learning Management – Provide What’s Essential While Eliminating Waste

learning pyramid

Business leaders live in a state of deep thought, as they gear up to do business in a changed world. For some, it’s a clean slate event; an opportunity to re-think, re-position, re-deploy, and re-execute.

This post inspires thinking about SMB, B2B, manufacturing and its approach to learning and development.

Learning” pervades industrial vernacular . . .

  • Chief Learning Officer
  • Learning Management Systems
  • e-Learning Systems
  • Learning Organizations

When an organization achieves success with learning, it’s not necessarily gained impact commensurate with the associated expense.  Learning is only “Level-2” of a four-level L&D framework made famous by Don Kirkpatrick.1

1 The web is replete with discussion about Don Kirkpatrick and a four-level model for training development and evaluation.  This timeless and useful framework can inspire your thinking as you design and deliver learning interventions.  Doug Hagy, of Twin Lakes Consulting, gained insights about this framework through personal correspondence with Don Kirkpatrick.

learning pyramid

Level 4: Impact . . .
(Results) – Does the organization realize impact from new on-the-job behaviors practiced by its learners?

Level 3: Behavior . . .
Do learners practice new on-the-job behaviors; inspired by what they’ve learned from training events?

Level 2: Learning . . .
Do learners gain practical takeaways and new knowledge?

Level 1: Reaction . . .
Are learners satisfied with their learning interventions?  Well presented?  Good venue?  Relevant?

The only learning that’s valuable, is learning that spawns behavior; vital behavior essential to getting the work done – well.

Furthermore, the only behaviors that are worth producing are behaviors that generate business impact.

Learning that doesn’t produce behaviors, or produces non-essential behaviors, can be reasonably characterized as waste.  The software, the staff, the related learning interventions – all generating waste.

The way to training success is aiming for Level-4 success from the get-go and addressing requisite requirements of the lower levels along the way.

learning blind spot

Impact (Level 4) is an occasional L&D ‘blind spot’.  Achieve Level 4 success by making impact the up-front driver for every learning intervention.  Twin Lakes Consulting, can show you how to do just that – for every learning intervention.

From an article by David Maister (highly regarded consultant and author) . . .

“No manager should ever be given a training budget until they show which business metric that training will impact – they should set a goal for that impact and review performance against that goal before allocating more training budget to that manager.” 2

2 https://davidmaister.com/articles/why-most-training-is-useless

flood organization with learning

Thinking about flooding your organization with “Learning Interventions”?

Becoming a “Learning” organization?

Listen to this show – “Attention Please”.   Learn about the challenges of communicating “in the age of infinite distractions”.

For all the ways our attention is routinely drawn away, and the numerous interruptions we encounter each day, you’re lucky to get any message through. Limit learning interventions, of any type, to bare essentials.

discard unnecessary learning

If you’ve not yet invested in complex systems to support learning, you may have less to discard as you re-think efficiently equipping employees with vital know-how.

hooked on LMS

If you’ve already bought in to the Learning Management System (“LMS”) allure, we can help you migrate to our simpler, targeted, cloud-based solution.

✓ Nurture and manage everything that achieves Level 4 success.

✓ Discard everything else.

Chances are that you’ll shrink the pool of topics you share with your employees dramatically.

    • Simplify the learning function.
    • Pare down related management systems.
    • Lower related costs.
    • Reduce employee learning interventions (interruptions).
    • Sharpen focus on learning with verifiable impact.

Team with Twin Lakes Consulting. We’ll equip you with targeted tools to ensure that employees stay current with relevant know-how for them to do their work.

Transform “learning management” into a manageable, complimentary, role for your EHS, Quality, or HR Manager.

achieve learning impact

Call Twin Lakes Consulting today.

Get to know ways you can implement simpler learning management tools, with fewest employee distractions and greatest organizational impact.


only one call away

This Learning Management Blog is For You

Does your business provide training to its employees?

This learning management blog is for anyone whose business provides training to its employees. Do you want to ensure that training programs are relevant, efficiently delivered to the right employees, and effective? If you answered “yes”, then you are at the right place.

Anyone who operates a business, that provides employee training, can benefit from this training management blog.

These posts are created to inspire and enhance your foray into training management. You’ll find tips to help you design effective training, deliver impactful training, and evaluate training. You’ll gain insights about emerging standards and accepted practices that can bias your organization toward extracting greater value from its training efforts.

What you’ll read is based on our real-world experiences with, and related research on, training management challenges. This blog points the way to getting a management system for training in place. It leverages your in-house know-how to achieve excellence in training management.

Our approach to equipping you for success makes this blog unique.

Gain takeaways you can apply immediately.

You’ll get organized, adopt widely-recognized good practices, develop good habits, and collaborate within your organization to achieve lofty goals in training management.

Through commentaries regarding common approaches to this challenge, you will learn early on that Twin Lakes Consulting does not ‘toe the line’ for all emerging trends. We will sometimes encourage you to push back on agendas that are permeating the training management discipline. We think you will pick enough lower hanging fruit to continually achieve laudable training management goals – then move on to other challenges.

When this blog is loaded with its anticipated content, it should be reasonably possible for an organization to use these posts to self-organize, equip on a shoestring budget, and achieve measurable, stellar, results through targeted, effective, employee training.

Welcome to Twin Lakes Consulting’s Training Management blog!

Training Evaluation Tools

Training evaluation tools are used to verify that training meets its objectives. This post helps you manage training evaluation for any training initiative.  It showcases instruments used to evaluate training – the tools of training evaluation..

training evaluation tools

Training evaluation tools – Background.

Don Kirkpatrick’s four-level training evaluation framework is a time-tested cornerstone for training evaluation.  This framework includes the following four levels:

Reaction.  An assessment of trainee impressions, and level of satisfaction with the training.  This provides an opportunity for trainees to provide feedback to trainers.  Items checked include subject matter relevance, trainer capability, appropriateness of the training venue, and convenience for trainees to participate in the program.

Learning.  Verification that trainees absorb and understand the trained subject matter.

Behavior.  Determination that the training inspires desired on-the-job behaviors.

Results.  Appraisal of training’s impact on the organization.  This may be reflected in profitability, reduction in defects, impact on injury rates, etc.

Don Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Framework

Training evaluation tools – When you can quantify results, you can measure them.

Training can be evaluated using a variety of tools.  They are designed to add structure, and a means to generate quantitative results, to what may seem to be abstract training aspects.

evaluation tool – the evaluation form
Evaluating trainee reaction typically uses an evaluation form (sometimes pejoratively referred to as a ‘smile sheet’).  Responses to questions are typically cast as a range, say “on a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied were you with the trainer’s communication capabilities?”.  Higher scores generally indicate a higher level of satisfaction with the training.

evaluation tool – the learning exam
A learning exam, can be administered as a pencil-and-paper form, recorded online, or as the basis for a trainee interview.  The exam provides a way to develop a quantitative score of how well learning was accomplished.

evaluation tool – the behavior observation form
Behavior can be directly assessed by observing on-the-job behaviors or indirectly through gathering evidence that the desired behaviors are being practiced.  Are bolts tightened to the desired foot pounds of torque?  You can watch trainees actually tighten the bolts or you can occasionally check the bolts to see if they were installed using the proper torque.  Results gathered either way can be recorded on a behavior observation form.

evaluation tool – snapshots of pre-training and post-training conditions
Results are checked by comparing snapshots of pre-training conditions with snapshots of post-training conditions.  Have injury rates declined since the training was delivered?  Are customer complaints  about quality occurring at a lower frequency now that the training is completed.  Has profitability been impacted by the training program?

Training evaluation tools – So much work to include evaluation with every training program.

When you adopt a policy that every training program will be evaluated, you establish a new litmus test for training.  A question will be raised each time a training program is developed – “Is this training worth the effort it will take to evaluate its success?”  When the answer is “No”, it may follow that the training is not important enough to implement.  While evaluation may add effort to training delivery, its resource requirements may inspire reduction in the number of training programs actually delivered.

When you deliver training to large communities, you may choose to assess training impact on a subset of the trained population (a sample).  This can make evaluation manageable.  Results must be qualified with the point that they reflect the sample, not the entire trainee population.

The Kirkpatrick framework proposes that training is evaluated at all four levels.  It proposes that success at the “reaction” level creates good conditions for success at “learning” level.  Success at “learning” level creates good conditions for changes in “behavior”.  That successful “behavior” changes are a basis for achieving desired “results”.  It’s important to see the connections among these evaluation levels when you design the training.

Stephen Covey admonishes, “Begin with the end in mind.”.

Start with “Results”.  What goals are set for the training?  Do you want to reduce injuries?  Improve customer satisfaction?  Improve product quality?  What before and after snapshots will you take to build evidence evidence that training has met its goals?

After results are identified, you can ask “What on-the-job behaviors must be practiced to achieve the results?”.

Once the important behaviors are identified you and your team can determine what learning must take place to inspire the required behaviors.

When the learning requirements are defined, you can complete your training plan by identifying trainees for whom the training will  be relevant, setting up an appropriate training venue, and assembling course materials and support resources.

Training evaluation tools – What can be done to streamline evaluation for a time-pinched training team?

All four training evaluation levels must be integrated into training program design. At Twin Lakes Consulting, we propose that evaluation efforts ought to be pared down to match available resources – people, time, and money.

We believe training’s primary goal is to modify behavior.  (If on-the-job behavior is not expected to change, why deliver the training?)  As such, when you wish to streamline training evaluation, take steps to verify that essential behaviors are being practiced.  When a sound connection between behaviors and results is made up-front, the desired behaviors ought to deliver the desired results.

What evaluation tool may reasonably be considered most
important for training evaluation?  (drum roll please)
the Behavior Observation Form

Regard the term “form” as a metaphor.  While sometimes a pencil-and-paper form, it may just as likely be an online form.

When a training team designs a behavior observation form,  the related training program is improved.  The observed behaviors, once articulated on a data collection form, create a recipe for effective, impactful, training.  “How will the wrench be used? ” “How will attendance forms be completed?”  “How should the surface be polished?”

As suggested earlier, behavior observation may be performed through direct observation or perhaps indirectly through indicators gathered through other channels.  “Are forms filled out properly in accordance with how employees are trained to fill them out?”  You can watch employees fill out the forms or you can check the forms to see if they are consistently filled out properly.  During training, you can require a performance demonstration.  Have trainees demonstrate that they know how to perform tasks in accordance with how they have been trained.

You may choose to evaluate behaviors for a subset of the trained population (a sample).  Make sure your samples draw from appropriate demographics – gender? shift? time with the company?  Always qualify your results by stating the sample to which the results apply.

Training evaluation tools – Build a body of objective evidence that your training produces desired behaviors.

Record observations on the behavior observation form as behaviors are formally observed – either during training or on the job.  Use the form to score the results.  This is your tangible, objective, evidence that important behaviors have been observed.  Keep these forms as a permanent record.

It may not be possible to directly observe trained behaviors.  For example, consider training for disaster response.  You will not be able to observe the behaviors until the disaster occurs.  Use learning exams that focus on understanding of required behaviors or use variants of behavior observation forms that can be completed during trainee interviews about essential behaviors.

Satisfactory results from evaluating sample groups may reasonably indicate training success, however, unsatisfactory results ought to trigger a prompt study of a larger, if not the complete, trained population.  This is especially important when the trained subject matter relates to safety or organization prosperity.

Contact us to request sample training evaluation tools.