Does training actually change behavior? 

Brian Washburn asked this question the other day over on LinkedIn – here. I was asked by someone else to respond. So … I did … and then I expanded on that here …

Instruction, Training, Education, and Learning might be necessary – to deal with Awareness, Knowledge, and Skill gaps – but are seldom sufficient.

What I learned from the late Geary Rummler back in 1981, was to look 1st at the Process (Tasks & Behaviors) – and is there one? Was that clear to the Performers? See this 1981 video for more. Or…

And the 2nd thing he taught me – and everyone else in the room that day in 1981 – was to look at the Consequences and see if they were aligned or misaligned. Change is sometimes hard and not smooth – with a Performance/Learning Curve to climb. The Consequence System needs to reinforce what is desired and extinguish what is undesired. That can come from Top-Down and or from Side-to-Side – from the bosses and/or the peers.

And he also mentioned that Short Term Consequences that were “sure” always beat Long Term Consequences that were just a “maybe” – and this is perhaps why many didn’t quit smoking (back in the 70s when the Surgeon General had labels put on each pack to warn smokers of their risks) in the USA.

And then as Gilbert said, “We can have our greatest effects on human performance just by measuring performance correctly and making the information available.”

The TQM movement also promoted: “data on display” as a form of feedback with all of their charts on the wall – as some of you may have seen.

“We can have our greatest effects on human performance just by measuring performance correctly and making the information available.”

Communications or Education or Training – The Levels of Learning IMO

Sometimes – depending on the prior awareness, knowledge, and skills of the target audiences – they may need communications or education or training to get them to the point of “Enabled to Perform” and then the Expectations and Consequences in the Performance Context take it from there. Plus any additional Environmental enablers that are necessary.

Unless the people don’t have the other Human Enablers needed (which is sometimes true).

It takes a Systems View IMO.

Here’s one level of that – my Systems Thinking/EPPI Thinking…

And That Lack of a Balance of Consequences Is Sometimes at the Root of Learning Transfer Issues

All of the Investments in Instruction (Performance Support and/or Learning Experiences) are FOR TOTAL NAUGHT if the Receiving System doesn’t embrace what the Learners bring back to their Performance Context. It can be inhibited and/or prohibited by Management and/or Peers.

In my view – Transfer Issues are mostly a Management Issue – and not an ISD/LXD Issue – unless the content wasn’t authentic enough with authentic Practice & Feedback – because THEN poor/non transfer would be completely on us.

Management needs to expect and demand the changes addressed – or it simply is unlikely to occur.

I tend to bring up – as I also Worry Out Loud as I Work Out Loud – about Transfer – early and often with my clients and their stakeholders in my Project Steering Team Gate Review Meetings.

See the upside-down Traffic Lights in this next graphic. That’s where I would Worry Out Loud about Transfer.

EPPI – Enterprise Process Performance Improvement

But It’s always more than Knowledge & Skills that Enable Performance. My EPPI Thinking addresses that.

Podcast City

I’ve discussed much of this in several podcasts lately.

Here are the four of the latest six – including one with Brian Washburn:


Guy was interviewed on July 1, 2022, by Katerina Kuznetsova – a Product Manager for Stiltsoft – a Software company in Gomel, Belarus. See the 56-minute YouTube video below.


Bob Mosher and Guy Wallace Talk All Things Workflow Learning

This episode features Guy Wallace, who sat down with Bob to discuss his experience with putting performance first. June 2022.

Listen as they chat about everything from stakeholder management and technology to measurement, common objections, and how to get started with embedding your organization’s learning in the flow of work. Listen here.



Train Like You Listen – Podcast Ep.113 – Instructional Design for Non-training Professionals, with Guy Wallace

What is “instructional design” and how does one put together effective learning programs? In today’s podcast, Guy Wallace boils over 40 years of experience down into a 15-minute conversation about how effective learning can be designed. Recorded in June 2022 with Brian Washburn.



THE LEARNING HACK PODCAST – LH #60 Repeat Performance with Guy Wallace

This episode will be highly relatable to anyone who works in L&D within organizations, but is of more general interest too. Now semi-retired, Performance Analyst and Instructional Architect Guy W. Wallace proves more than happy to spill the beans about the wiliness that is often need to keep programmes on track amidst the sturm und drang of corporate politics and misapprehensions about learning in the C-suite.

Learning Hack No 60 - w GWW

This podcast is 52:04 minutes in length. See that here.

Guy’s Books

See all of Guy W. Wallace’s books on his Amazon Authors Page:


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