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A One-Day Workshop with Dan Tobin

Training groups continue to struggle with how to tie their efforts directly to their organizations’ specific business goals and strategies.  In this workshop you will learn how to use Dan Tobin’s concept of a “learning contract” to make that connection from the start of planning through to the application of learning to the job to have a positive effect on those business goals and strategies.  You will learn that by planning properly from the start, you can build in your measures of effectiveness (Kirkpatrick Levels 3 and 4) from the beginning.  

Workshop Goals

  • Learn about the structure of the Learning Contract
  • Identify ways in which your training group can learn about the organization’s goals and strategies and determine how learning can contribute to the achievement of those goals
  • Expand the repertoire of the training group by moving from the traditional roles of “trainers” to the expanded roles of “learning facilitators.”
  • Learn new ways of supporting the application of learning to employees’ work to ensure that learning initiatives have positive outcomes in terms of the goals of individuals, teams, and the organization.
  • Learn how to build in evaluation of all learning initiatives (Kirkpatrick Levels 2, 3, and 4) from the start


Workshop Outline

We will start by learning the basic structure of the Learning Contract and how it relates to your organization’s goals and strategies.  The Learning Contract has three parts:

·  Part I: Setting the Learning Agenda

·  Part II: Developing the Learning Plan

·  Part III: Application of Learning to the Job

Too often, training groups will say that they are not connected with their organization’s business goals and strategies, that they have no training in business so that they can’t understand business goals, or that organizational leaders have no interest in involving them in their business planning.  In this session, we will discuss how the training group can get the information it needs to make the connection between organizational goals and strategies and its learning initiatives.

Once you understand the organization’s goals and strategies, you then have to determine how the training group can contribute to their achievement.  You will learn how to differentiate what can be effectively addressed by the training group versus what needs to be addressed by other means.  We will use a methodology called “The Five Hows” to role-play crucial conversations that you can hold with organizational leaders to make this differentiation and to suggest ways in which the training group can help those leaders meet their goals and more effectively implement their strategies.  And we will discuss how to draft a learning agenda based on the results of those conversations.

Part II of the Learning Contract deals with your learning plan:

·  What needs to be learned?

·  Who needs to learn it?

·  What learning methods will you use?

·  How will you measure learning achievement (Kirkpatrick Level 2)?


We will brainstorm a wide variety of learning methods, many outside of what training groups traditionally do, and discuss how your role needs to evolve from “trainer” to “learning facilitator.”

Part III of the Learning Contract deals with how learning will be applied to the job to make a positive difference in individual, team, and organizational business results.  The key to making this happen is to negotiate with the organization’s leaders and the participants’ managers BEFORE any training is started to set the right expectations and to put in place the mechanisms and resources for reinforcement and assistance as employees apply their learning to their work.  We will also discuss a number of strategies for the training group on how to support learners once they have left the classroom (or completed their e-learning or other self-study).

If you have planned the Learning Contract correctly, your measures of success will be almost self-evident.  In this session we will discuss how best to gather evaluation evidence and how to present it to the organization’s leaders to prove the worth of your learning initiatives.  

The Learning Contract is a new way to think about, plan, and implement learning strategies in your organizations and will require change – change on the part of the training group, change on the part of the organization’s leadership, and changes on the part of learning participants and their managers.  So, to wrap up the day, we will talk about some of the common obstacles you may well face in taking up this new approach and some ways of getting around those obstacles.  This will also be the time for final questions and answers.