Reviewing Neil Rackham’s 10 Training Design Criteria – #04

Is there an incremental building of skills?

As Neil points out – this is related to #3.

IMO – no, most often we are too impatient. We cram too much – 10 pounds into a 5 pound bag – so to speak.

Check out the part where Neil talks about perceived learning versus actual learning.


Think Practice opportunity.

Each piece needs to be a manageable chunk. And leads to progress and additional complexity.

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 April 1981. That was the Motorola Training & Education Center.

I was in the audience. Lucky lucky me.

Guy’s Further Comments on Criteria #04

I like to think of each topic or task – with all topics tied/linked to each task it enables – as preceding from awareness creation to knowledge building to skills building. Also focused/screened based on the Tasks at hand.

Which is why I have always labeled it/put it:

Knowledge/Skills and K/Ss


Skills/Knowledge S/K

as so many of my peers do.

Rebel me.

The Building Blocks of Perf Competence

Think cognitive load when chunking. And think sequence.

In an ADDIE sense – one would need to learn to do Analysis before Design, etc. And an “advanced organizer” would have shared an overview of all of ADDIE.

In my approaches – both CAD and MCD – we’d do Project Planning & Kick-Off prior to Analysis.


I also like to think of it as:

learn A via INFOs and DEMOs and APPOs

and then learn B and then A+B

and then learn C and then A+B+C, etc.

Don’t go so fast that learners don’t learn.

Provide FEEDBACK just before their next attempt – so that it is both fresh in their minds and they don’t have time to rationalize away that feedback.

Neil Rackham

I’ve know Neil since 1981 when I had opportunity to work with him on starting a Negotiations program for Sales, Purchasing and Program Management – based on work and research he and others (John Carlisle) in his firm were doing in that Negotiations area at the time. All related to the base communications behaviors at the right time in the cycle – as SPIN was back in the day.

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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