Moving Up The Training Value Chain - Part II
- Training Strategies for Organizational Impact

Key messages of this article are:

  • To take specific action to move up the value chain of training, you need to know where you are in the Value Chain of HRD and Training

  • Do training needs analysis on ‘just-in-time’ basis such that your business organization will appreciate the simplicity yet usefulness of your analysis

  • Use Management Support Process to guarantee transfer of behavior change from training environment to workplace - level 3 of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s level of training effectiveness

  • Design and facilitate both training and non-training interventions into business solutions linked to organization’s key business indicators (level 4 of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s level of training effectiveness).  Hint: the more you move up the value chain, the less training is the solution.

Current Situation:

When I was a training and development manager for a factory and a regional sales and marketing organization I was moving in the circle of training managers and HR managers.  Today as a consultant on organizational and leadership effectiveness, I am also working with client organizations that have training departments.  One of the key visions of these training or HR organizations that I have seen now for the last 15 years or more is the statement of ‘wanting to be a strategic business partner to the operations group.  Up to today, I still see a lot of support organizations wanting to be that but in many cases not having a structured approach to become that. I hope this article gives you some ideas of where to start, do less of and do more of.  Good luck!

I) Defining the Problem Statement And Shifting How You See The World:

Before we go any further, let us scope the problem statement.  To do that let us begin with the end state or success measurement.  Let us ask ourselves ‘what does success look like’ if we are truly a strategic business partner to the Operations?

What is your value proposition to the business given that training is a cost center and not a P&L center?

Let me suggest a few things for you to think about:

  • Deliver just-in-time solutions to business challenges with a systems approach (process, management support process and behavior change) as measured by transfer of behavior change from classroom to workplace with impact on key business indicators.

  • Save company money and spend appropriately as measured by changes in behavior and linkage to business indicators impact – so stop chasing after a number just for the sake of a number; 6% of total salary to be spent on training or 40 hours of training per employee per year over time becomes the goal instead of hitting business indicators.

  • Keep process as simple as possible as measured by minimal usage of forms, meaning stop the bureaucracy.  Training needs analysis should be done all the time during business discussions and especially during strategic planning not once a year through survey forms.

  • Lead, facilitate and support effective change and transition vs. being an administrator of policies as measured by helping with scale-ability of organization to cyclical demand and nimbleness of organization in dealing with changes and transitions.   Time to Market and reduced cycle time are key measures.

So the first area to work on is to shift how you see the world.  If you see HR or training as being only a supporting role and one that takes orders and direction then it will be harder to influence the organization to do the right things.  If HR strategies are kept separate to business planning and discussions then it becomes harder to link whatever HR or Training does with business solutions.  However if you see HR and Training being an expert in organization and leadership development then you need to behave like an expert who can link the programs or processes with business strategies and results.

II) Identifying where you and your organization are on the Value Chain of HRD and Training

The key elements of a value chain of HR have to do with the control of knowing where the organization is heading (knowledge and inside track), design and development and being in a position to consult with the organization on business strategies and solutions.   You can also see from the diagram that I have correlated Kirkpatrick’s level of training effectiveness with where you are in the value chain.   So the key question is where are you in this value chain and what do you want to do to move up the value chain if you are in the administrator or integrator role?

Value Chain of HR & Training

Figure 1: Value Chain of HR and Training

For those who would like an overview about Dr. Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of training effectiveness, please refer to Part I of this 2 part article.

The essential characteristics of a value-add HRD and Training organization, in my opinion, are the following:

  • Program objectives prioritized and linked to Business Objectives (via Performance Management)

  • Leaders are engaged directly with the Training program. They are not cheerleaders on the sideline. They are either teaching or coaching or mentoring the tools and behavior taught in the program. Leaders can also play the sponsorship role of HR or training programs.

  • Structure in Place for Reinforcement (pre/during/post).  Please refer to Management Support Process for more details.

The 6 Step Approach to Effective HRD and Training Interventions

Step 1 – Identifying accurately the Problem Statement (What are we trying to solve?)
This is the most crucial step.  If not assessed accurately the rest of the efforts are wasted. Ask the right questions to get to the real problem and not the symptom.  Link the business indicator or business strategy at this step will save you from countless hours of justifying for your program or efforts.  During this step use the problem definition to also build your business acumen and business language. 

Hint: You can and should be able to ask this question all the time throughout the year.  If you do this well, you almost do not have to worry about the typical annual TNA (Training Needs Analysis) survey, which I never did in my years as a Training & Development Manager.

Step 2 – Focusing on Vital Few Behavioral Outcomes vs. Trivial Many when it comes to Root Cause Analysis
Do not be distracted by ‘noise’ and focus on the key vital few behavioral outcomes by using 20/80 rule. Find the 20% that impacts 80% of the result or solution! Facilitate or build a root cause analysis to get to core of the issue. Keep asking ‘why’ to get to the root cause. 

Hint: To be a change agent you have to be an expert in a few things.  One of them is problem solving.  I use that all the time in my career and now as a consultant.  Those problem solving steps never fail me. It also gives you credibility in the eyes of your business clients. Don’t be a ‘jack of all trade’ be a ‘master of few’. 

Step 3 – Designing a truly impactful solution in the form of either training or non-training interventions or both
Use the Management Support Process to ensure transfer of learning from classroom to workplace.  Supplement the learning with different types of non-training interventions like   mentoring, coaching, senior management role modeling and/or support, ensuring tools are adequate and available, ensuring process or system does work are just a few non-training interventions.  Apply ‘Adult Learning Principles’ (Andragogy) to your design.  I use it all the time in my workshop and coaching design with senior management and they have worked very well.  We are constantly dealing with change and transition and thus you need to become a capable change agent.  You also need to understand the transition side of change as this is the one that holds back the organization.  Emotional transition is the key reason why people are still left behind after the change has been announced.

Step 4 – Delivering the solution and implementation approaches
Engage senior management in the solution delivery and implementation approaches. The key here is to approach the business problem and see if training or non-training intervention is right solution vs. making training the goal.  Training is the means to an end and the end is solving business problems that impact the bottom line business indicators.

Step 5 – Creating a Pre and Post Management Support Process to guarantee transfer of behavior change in classroom to workplace
I have worked with many clients now and they have seen that when you try and solve a problem you cannot just look at a one dimensional approach – like send someone to training and he or she will come back motivated and ready to run!  I use a ‘Systems Approach’ which looks at System or Process Improvement, Management Support Process Required and Behavior Change Needed.

For Step 5, let us look at how the Management Support Process works.   If you look at the diagram below, I use a few principles in designing a Management Support Process.  First is the adult learning principle that ‘adults learn best when he/she has a problem to solve’.  Second is ‘what you measure will change’.  Third is ‘what gets rewarded against my performance plan will get attention.’

So prior to sending an employee for training, a manager needs to set up the problem statement with the employee.  Best thing to do is to link to the employee’s performance plan and areas he or she is working on to close for better performance.  Pick a particular behavior and then set up the expectation of the behavior change expected after the training.  Hint: from my experience with lots of clients, do not underestimate the difficulty to start to think in terms of behavioral statements.  Also set up time after the training to follow up with a meeting to have the employee share what he or she has learned and how he or she will be applying back at work. 

Post training is important that you follow up with the meeting.  It is also important that when you see the employee trying to apply the new behavior or new tool, you need to give just-in-time positive feedback on the specific new behavior the employee is trying to demonstrate.


Training for Impact

 Figure 2: Management Support Process

Step 6 – Post training evaluation linking to business success indicators showing IMPACT (I prefer this to ROI)
When people ask me what ROI templates I use and how I calculate ROI of training, my answer is very simple.  I don’t do that.  In my years as a training and development director in both a manufacturing and sales and marketing organization, I have never done that.   Reason is simple.  I linked the training strategies during the strategic planning process which means that the senior management knew what problems the organization needs to solve and what training or non-training interventions were needed upfront. 

Use Dr. Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of training effectiveness and design-in the post evaluation upfront with focus on level 3 (behavior change) and the linkage to business results (ROI).  In fact, I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Kirkpatrick once how much effort should one spend trying to calculate ROI and to paraphrase what he told me; he said that it take too much effort to try and calculate ROI for a training effort that you cannot say directly impacts business results.  There are other variables that also influence the results directly and indirectly.

Developing a ‘Brand Equity’ of Training Value so that organization will keep coming back to use the organization’s products and services.

The highest recognition to achieve is when the organization will always involve HR and Training on any decisions on organizational direction or changes! The key to branding your training value is to constantly ask for feedback at the start, during the training and immediately after the training.  Feedback is the breakfast of champions.   Without it, you will not know whether you are solving the problems needed to be solved.  Asking for immediate feedback is good and the clients will need to be consistent in what they say to you and what they put into any customer satisfaction survey later in the year.

Another simple way is to treat your products with dignity by not putting them into acronyms like MDP (for Management Development Program) or P-S (for problem solving).   I always insist in calling out my programs in full.  Why?  So that people remember my products.  If you put your programs into short form and like most other products in the company, how will anyone remember?  Also remember that people can get creative and find other meaning for P-S or MDP or whatever.  Lastly the power of branding comes from perception that the products or services you have offered are making an impact on the organization and nothing beats that then real results (go after behavior change linked to results) and satisfied clients’ feedback.  Go for less volume and more impact!  Organization cannot have their employees spend all their time in classrooms with no impact to the business.


  • Now do you know where you are in the value chain of HR and Training?  If you do, then take specific action to move up the value chain.

  • Carry out training needs analysis on ‘just-in-time’ basis such that your business organization will appreciate the simplicity yet usefulness of your analysis.  Leverage as much as possible the current process that businesses are using to plan for business and then ask the questions on what behavior needs to be changed.  Do not insert a separate process that makes it harder to link training strategies with business results.

  • Use Management Support Process (pre/during/post) to guarantee transfer of behavior change from training environment to workplace - level 3 of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s level of training effectiveness. 

  • Design and facilitate both training and non-training interventions into business solutions linked to organization’s key business indicators (level 4 of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s level of training effectiveness).  Hint: the more you move up the value chain, the less training is the solution.

Workshop on HRD & Training Strategies for Organizational Impact

Chin Teik Consulting Ltd can discuss with you on how to implement ideas from this article in your organization.  This 2 day workshop can be tailored to your specific needs with in-house consulting & executive coaching with follow up on implementation roadmap.

Please email us and we can discuss further on your concerns or needs.  

Professional Profile

Cheah Chin Teik is founder and President of Chin Teik Consulting Ltd., based in Hong Kong.  Chin Teik is an experienced coach in organizational and leadership effectiveness for business results, scale-ability and sustainability via alignment and engagement of entire workforce. Chin Teik facilitates senior executive and/or executive teams to a clearer understanding of their leadership behavior while embedding a system of management practices to deliver business results.

Renowned worldwide for his dynamic and intuitive consulting process, Chin Teik’s specialization areas are executive coaching and/or executive team coaching on strategic planning system and processes, organization effectiveness, leadership and management development and system of management implementation. Chin Teik also specializes in enabling ‘HR and Training strategies for organizational impact’ and implementing ‘Continuous Improvement Process’. Chin Teik’s coaching and consulting efforts cut across a wide range of industries including Legal, Water Utility, Elevator, Oil & Gas, Advertising, Packaging, Precision Engineering and Semiconductor

A charismatic global leader, Chin Teik has amassed invaluable experience in manufacturing, training & development, total quality management and over 28 years of experience playing critical human resource roles in Intel on a regional and global scale.  Chin Teik has to his credit the prestige of setting up the first-ever 10, 000 sq. ft. Intel University Training Center to deliver ‘Transformation of Workforce’ program to entire factory.  Chin Teik also played an instrumental role in the founding of the Penang Skills Development Center. 

What past clients have said on Chin Teik’s facilitation style and work shop:

‘He knows his work and is able to answer questions using personal experiences’
- Singapore Pools

‘Clear articulation with specific real life experiences’
- Shell Global

‘Chin Teik’s delivery is passionate, clear, visionary and yet practical.  I didn’t blink an eyelid.  I wanted to hear it all’.
- IBM Services India

‘Chin Teik pushed and challenged our mental model state and opened our eyes to how we can do things differently.  We are able to apply ‘performance contract’, ‘blocking time for planning’, ‘simple TNA’, ‘problem solving through facilitation’, ‘management support process’.’
- Participants from ‘Training Strategies for Organizational Impact