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Train-to-Ingrain: Technical Background

Without reinforcement, there can be no performance improvement


Train-to-Ingrain is a uniquely structured performance improvement methodology adopted by OnTrack Training which integrates assessment technology, training technology, and continual reinforcement to help managers effect lasting performance improvements in their organizations.

Built on decades of neuroscience research, the Train-to-Ingrain methodology is the product of a strategic alliance between Performance Support Systems (developers of 20/20 Insight GOLD) and Vital Learning Corporation (developers of the Vital Learning Leadership Curriculums), two of OnTrack Training's key business partners.

The following background information is excerpted from the Train-to-Ingrain Executive Summary, written by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Performance Support Systems.

The ultimate goal of training and development has always been to achieve permanent, measurable improvements in performance that have a positive impact on business results.

Executives and HR professionals have pursued this goal for decades. Regrettably, most organizations haven't been able to achieve anything close to this expected return on their investment—especially in the improvement of leadership, sales, service and other interpersonal skills. Even though tens of billions of dollars are invested in learning and development every year, the best efforts of trainers have not been able to consistently produce permanent changes in workplace behavior. This failure has come to be known as the "transfer of training problem."

Experts say the issue typically isn't with the training and development programs themselves, but with their context—the activities and practices that happen before, during and afterwards. The central problem is inadequate follow-up reinforcement of the skills introduced in training. Recent discoveries in neuroscience tell us why this is so important: performance improvement involves the growing of new dendrites to reconnect brain cells into new pathways that enable new skills and behavior patterns.

This physical connecting-up process depends on a substantial amount of practical application and reinforcement, which almost never happens in the traditional approach to training and development.

It's neither necessary nor desirable to try to improve all areas at once. To achieve positive results as soon as possible, the best approach is to get started quickly by doing three things, which can be accomplished in a very short period of time:

  • Acquire integrated assessment and training technologies that support ongoing skill reinforcement.
  • Involve direct managers in the learning process. Define their staff development responsibilities and hold them accountable.
  • Measure performance improvement. Assess skill areas before and after learning to establish developmental goals and accountability.

You can then build on the foundation of these successes with a customized strategy to optimize all eight critical areas.

Before training, individual performance levels are benchmarked using 20/20 selected Insight GOLD feedback assessments, with the expectation that follow-up measurements will be made several months after training. This focuses learner attention, increases motivation and establishes a mechanism for accountability. Training programs incorporate best practices that contribute to retention and learning transfer. With the support of trainers, direct managers play a crucial role during the follow-up reinforcement phase, supporting continued learning, ongoing feedback, coaching and accountability.