In the first takes of the GoPro that I commented on my last piece of writing, Have you changed jobs?, my initiatory and sporadic forays as a sales trainer are shown before the existence of Cookie Box.

What really struck me was the enormous importance placed on the average grade obtained in the satisfaction surveys by participants in these courses. I soon learned that the reputation of a good trainer was based (is based?) on systematically obtaining an average grade of Outstanding. I remember waiting anxiously for the last participant to leave the classroom to see if I had a future in this business. Clearly, the first question that the person who was to hire me was going to be… “How did your assessment go?”.

The process in finding out the verdict was certainly slower than looking to see if a “Thumbs Up” appeared on the screen. I will not conceal that under those circumstances, with calculator in hand, checking that the average grade has reached 8.97 points, made me feel euphoric and allowed me to harbor hopes of passing to the next screen, which gave me serious options for new interventions in the future.

Like so many things in life, this situation was produced by a chain effect. At the root of the question of the person who had hired me, there was perhaps an e-mail from the Head of Customer Training and Development, asking for a report (rarely), and a copy of the evaluation sheets (always).

The same people who created this system by repeating this situation for years, used to ask us again and again how we could show that there was a return on their investment and that the training had had a positive effect on the participants, and hence on the organizations.

The logical and coherent response by anyone with any sense was clear: theoretical explanations and the dynamics used in the classroom, would end up in a fantastic Action Plan template, carefully designed for participants to commit themselves (with space for the signature included) to perform a series of actions in a given period. The inclusion of KPI’s in one of the columns would act as an incorruptible guarantor that the plans were going to be complied with successfully. It is an example of what experts used to call “transference”.

My friends, and today partners, Norbert Monfort and Sergi Corbeto, were already experienced and respected trainers, and I frequently used to listen to them reflect on the perversity of the system. The absence of indicators of the masses of knowledge transferred to jobs turned the grade into what was effectively the end of any well-meaning consultant.

The Boards of Directors of thousands of companies were taking strategic decisions which necessarily involved very profound changes in organizations. To achieve this, highly motivated teams were needed, that were open to change and willing to stop doing a lot of things they had been doing perfectly for years, to move on to others about which they had limited information, many doubts and lack of experience.

The training and development departments therefore needed to bring about rapid and complex changes in the day to day behavior of managers. Through motivation and by means of training to do things in a new and different way. But the indicator of quality or success continued being the grade. It was, and is, an obsolete system, and the challenge is how to change it?