Using systems thinking tools to identify training needs and evaluate training

Bryan Hopkins
17 October 2016

Organisations often see training as an important way to improve individual and team performance, but may fail to consider how training relates to broader organisational issues affecting performance, or how it may complement ongoing informal learning activities. Systems thinking as a broader concept provides a useful way of identifying how training can be designed so that it supports individual and team performance more effectively. Tools such as Critical Systems Heuristics, Soft Systems Methodology and the Viable Systems Model can be extremely useful in helping in the design of training programmes. Systems thinking also useful for evaluating the outcomes of training, helping us to move beyond simplistic models which assume that liking training leads to improved performance. This talk will look briefly at some different ways in which systems approaches can play an important part in different aspects of training design and evaluation.

Bryan Hopkins is an independent consultant who specialises in helping international organisations and NGOs in the humanitarian and development sectors to develop training strategies and programmes and evaluate performance- improvement activities. Since 2011 he has been enrolled as a student on the Open University’s Systems Thinking in Practice Master’s programme, and has been using this as a basis for strengthening the use of systems approaches in his professional practice. One outcome has been a forthcoming book, entitled “Learning and Performance: A Systemic Model for Analysing Needs and Evaluating Training”.