Good Training Is Driven By Outcomes

The lesson to take note of here in professional sports is that every action they take, every thought they have leads to an outcome.  The process is never the focus. Yet at the basis of so many leadership and team training programs is exactly the opposite. The process takes center stage and not the outcome.  Leaders in professional athletics don’t think run the ball, play third down, pitch the ball, or throw the ball to third base. Their singular purpose for having a team on the field is the outcome of scoring more points than the other team, not to play a good game.  They run the ball to get a first down outcome. They pitch the ball to strike a player out. They throw the ball the third base to tag a runner out. Everything thing they do and every thought they have is outcome based not process based. The process is simply a path to an outcome.

Yet it is common for organizations to think of training as a process, and then wonder why results are marginal and not sticky.  The goal is often to run teams through team training, develop emerging leaders, or put that one employee in a communication exercise.  All process driven. Effective training is based on defining an outcome right from the start, delivering on that an outcome, and not just running a bunch of leaders and teams through a process.  A team training outcome might look like improving communication within team members, but even defining “improving” as establishing written project goals, attaining agreement on those goals, agreeing on roles and responsibilities, for the purpose of delivering a defined quality outcome by a predetermined date.  “Improving” might also include establishing communication norms as to who’s accountable for taking the initiative to solve problems. Making other team members aware of a problem is a process. Solving the problem with specific solution steps that sponsors agreement from all involved is in an outcome.

This outcome mindset is the center piece of all successful training.  From the very first step each participant takes when walking in the door, the message should not be “here is what we are going to do today” or “here is what we are going to cover”, but instead to cover the outcomes followed by the processes it will take to achieve those outcomes.  To think of training in terms of outcomes will allow the organization to focus resources, eliminate irrelevant material, better manage time, and above all, have each participant achieve an outcome for which the training was intended to achieve.