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Exercise 1 – Using the 3 Box System


One exercise that you can try out immediately is something called the 3 Box System. This is a simple way of establishing what your training priorities are before you decide which types of training to evaluate. This should not take very long but it will help you to be absolutely clear in your own mind whether there are clear business reasons for the training you are already providing.

First, draw 3 boxes on a piece of paper. Label them -
Box 1 - must have,
Box 2 - added value,
Box 3 - nice to have.

Part 1.

1. Consider which elements of your training and development activity could be categorised as:-

- core (eg. product knowledge)
- basic job training (how to use the IT system)
- maintaining minimum company standards (eg. how to speak to customers
- statutory or mandatory (eg. health and safety)

All of these can be put into Box 1 - otherwise known as ‘must have’ training because your organisation must have these standards.

2. Now subdivide Box 1 into 2 further categories:-

- critical (eg. fork lift truck certificate)
- non-critical (eg. how to complete an expenses form)

For example, training staff to answer the phone within 4 rings may be in Box 1 but is this critical? On the other hand, product knowledge could be described as critical. Critical means the organisation will really suffer if this training is not effective.

3. When Box 1 is complete start to cost all of this training. What percentage of total training spend/budget does this represent?

4. Box 1 should be validated. What validation methods are being used at levels 1, 2 and 3? (link to Baseline Model) Testing (level 2) should be used to gauge knowledge acquisition.

5. Of all the other training and development activities how much is regarded as added value? Hopefully it will all add value but is any training and development specifically focused on a measurable, targeted improvement in costs, quality or output? If it is then it can go into Box 2.

6. Can you produce an ROI case for Box 2 training? (link to ROI)

7. Box 2 training can and should be evaluated. (link to Evaluation Models)

8. What percentage of overall spend does Box 2 account for?

9. Any other training and development must now go into ‘Box 3’. The 'nice to have' box. How much of existing spend does this account for?

10. Can anything in Box 3 be put into boxes 1 or 2 next year?

What have you learned from this exercise? Feedback your observations to the Forum.

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