Reviewing Neil Rackham’s 10 Training Design Criteria – #02

Is your emphasis on “basic” behaviors/ skills?

Most often – no. Why?


We assume too much IMO.

We assume that the learner/Performer knows the basics when we do our design and development. We assume that when we ask and they tell us so about the general or specific basic awareness, knowledge and skills.

We skim over that to get to the real meat – the intermediate awareness, knowledge and skills maybe if we don’t jump right to advanced awareness, knowledge and skills.

We cater to the learner wanting to play Stairway to Heaven and Layla and Mississippi Queen after just the first lesson. (This video is from the early 1980s. Adapt my music selections to your era and geography and tastes).

The 10 Training Design Criteria

  • #1- Is what you are teaching, based on a valid success model?
  • #2- Is your emphasis on “basic” behaviors/ skills?
  • #3- Is there a low threat learning environment?
  • #4- Is there an incremental building of skills?
  • #5- Is the design a learner-centric approach?
  • #6- Are there frequent and objective progress checks?
  • #7- Are there maximum practice opportunities?
  • #8- Are the behaviors/ skills taught based on a specific performance model?
  • #9- Is it exciting to teach/ learn?
  • #10- Are there reinforcements back on the job for what is being taught/ learned?

A Tool to Help You Take Notes

Print this off (Adopt) – or Mash it up (Adapt) – as needed.

Rackham 10 Training Design Criteria Notes Template

The Video

Note: the video is 57 minutes in length. From Neil Rackham at MTEC in 1981. That was the Motorola Training & Education Center. I was in the audience.

Guy’s Further Comments on Criteria #02

Is your emphasis on “basic” behaviors/ skills?

Unless you know for a fact – or a reasonable fact – that the learner/Performer has those basics – you shouldn’t assume that in your designs for Intermediate and Advanced programs.

And even …those programs should probably start with the Basics.

Because –

Don’t Forget About The Forgetting Curve

In our hurry – or responding to our clients’ and learners’ desire to go faster – our haste often makes waste.

Rather than drill-and-practice on basics – we spill and mop on topics – and then move on to those intermediate or advanced levels … or … on to another a completely new topic/task … too quickly.

We often do a lousy job in the Application Exercises … and the Feedback … and the Debriefings … … and the Follow Up Reinforcements … and we inadvertently reduce the ROI actual from whatever RIO potential had existed before we began.

Neil is right. Focus on the basics most of the time.

Neil Rackham

I’ve know Neil since 1981 when I had opportunity to work with him on starting a Negotiations program based on work he and others (John Carlisle) in his firm were doing in that area at the time.

I’ve posted on this topic/video – and about Neil many times before – herehere and here.

While Neil is primarily known in the world of Sales – due to his SPIN Selling book – he began in the Performance Improvement arena with the likes of Geary Rummler, Joe Harless, Bob Mager and many of the others involved in NSPI that later became ISPI.

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