As one of the most popular methods of evaluating interventions, the Brinkerhoff Model deserves to be considered when assessing the impact of training, coaching and other organisational interventions.
In 2003, Robert O. Brinkerhoff introduced his “Success Case Method“ (SCM) of evaluating training effectiveness stating that traditional evaluation models and methods were wrong to focus on simply “assessing the scope of training’s effect”. While other training evaluation models tend to focus more on effective human resource development (HRD) operations, Brinkerhoff’s SCM aims to “inquire more broadly into the performance management context.”
As the SCM focuses on qualitative analysis, it can also be used to analyse any major business change including the implementation of a new process, policy or even new equipment. It is also a useful approach for documenting the factors that can affect, enhance or impede a variety of situations or events.
It is a methodology for understanding how a training or coaching programme works well, or why it is not working. Unlike other training evaluation models, it doesn’t focus on finding the average performance of training participants, but rather, it studies the extreme cases, i.e. the most and least successful participants.
The two most important questions asked by the SCM are:
• “How well does a programme work in a best-case scenario?”
• “When a programme doesn’t work, what’s the reason for this?”
According to Brinkerhoff, an SCM evaluation can answer the following questions:
• What is really happening?
• What results, if any, is the programme helping to produce?
• What is the value of the results?
• How could the initiative be improved?
The five key steps of the SCM are:
As mentioned, the “ultimate goal” of the SCM is to examine the performance of the ‘outlier’ participants of the training in order to learn what to change to make it more successful. Brinkerhoff’s view was that, while some training programmes are successful, and some are total flops, the vast majority fall somewhere in between. The goal is to identify and interview these participants and then compare the differences between them.
This “ultimate goal” can be broken down into “mini goals”:
Brinkerhoff’s SCM can be quite useful when designing learning experiences and is a worthy alternative to other training evaluation models such as the Kirkpatrick’s model and Kaufman’s five levels of evaluation.
The key features of the model are:
Steps to Applying the Brinkerhoff SCM Model
Brinkerhoff’s SCM provides a useful way of working out why a training programme was successful, or not successful. Its main advantage is its application ease and cost effectiveness when compared to other models such as the Kirkpatrick Model. If your organisation would prefer to focus more on the evaluation results and leave the evaluation to experienced experts, then do not hesitate to contact Smart Consult; we would be happy to assist.
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