Decision-Making Matrix for Training

Beryl Levinger

The Decision-Making Matrix for Training (DMT) focuses on tasks associated with the management of training and is intended to assist support organization that wish to sponsor or finance capacity building training activities. It contains a listing (in column one) of the major decisions that have to be made in connection with the design and implementation of training, suggests some viable options with respect to each of these decisions (column two) and offers guiding principles for selecting among options (column three). A fourth column is included so that a support organization planning team can identify which option(s) it has selected.

This tool is designed to help support organizations develop and manage scopes of work for capacity building contractors, and to enable support organizations to plan their own capacity building efforts. To use the tool effectively, it is not necessary to follow the decision-making sequence as presented.

Decision-Making Matrix for Training


Illustrative Options

Guiding Principles


Who should be trained initially?

Begin by training the trainers; by training senior leadership; by training the supervisors of frontline staff; or, by strengthening frontline staff.

1. A cascade strategy is generally a cost-effective approach to training. Begin with training of trainers. Then cascade down to senior leadership, supervisors and frontline workers.

2. Many organizational problems cannot be solved at a single organizational level. Therefore, include training activities in the overall design that mix levels, functions and organizational perspectives.


How should trainees be selected and grouped?

Restrict training to members of a single organization or include staff from multiple organizations; restrict training to members of a single organizational unit or include staff from multiple units; restrict training to one organizational level or include people with a mix of organizational responsibilities; select individuals as trainees or require that eligibility for training be restricted to teams that can work together to put training into practice

1. In general, trainee groupings should correspond to the roles and functions within organizations that have a bearing on the problem that the training is attempting to address. Usually, this involves trainees from multiple units.

2. Where there are important points of similarity, a mix of organizations and/or levels within an organization offers productive cross-fertilization of ideas, promotes innovation, and enhances the training climate.

3. Highly competitive or hierarchical environments may not tolerate a mix of levels and/or organizations. In such instances, a preparatory stage may be required to achieve the optimal mix of participants.


Who should design and implement the training?

Internal facilitators; external international facilitators; external local facilitators; or, a mix of these types.

1. Training is best designed and implemented by those closest to the organization who possess the requisite capacity building and training skills. In ascending order of preference, this means that priority is given to international facilitators; external local facilitators; internal facilitators.

2. Where international or external facilitators are used, their role should primarily focus on training of trainers (TOT) and short-term backstopping local trainers who are graduates of TOT programs.


Where should the training take place?

On-site; off-site at a similar organization; off-site at a conference center; off-site at a training or technical institution; at a residential or non-residential setting.

1. Training designed to effect a major culture change is best conducted off-site in a residential setting.

2. Skills-based, short-duration training is often most appropriately conducted on-site.


What materials are needed to support the training?

Packaged, off-the-shelf courseware; open-ended, locally prepared exercises; case studies; a mix of types.

1. Whatever their provenance, good training materials allow participants to solve authentic open-ended problems in group settings and address a range of organizational constraints including inadequate knowledge and organizational culture.


What training methodology should be employed?

Open-ended discussion and exercises designed to inculcate new attitudes and values; hands-on, structured, skills-based training designed to impart specific knowledge essential to capacity building; a mix of types.

1. In general, fundamental changes in organizational capacity require shifts in organizational culture. This is best accomplished by providing trainees with group-centered opportunities to explore new values and give voice to any resistance they may feel toward them.


What should the training objectives be?

Mastery of specific functional skills; changes in organizational culture; team-building; enhanced capacity for organizational learning; introduction of TQM or some other customer-focused change; new capabilities to respond to changes in the external environment.

1. Selection of objectives must be realistic. In general, training can pave the way for fundamental organizational change, but is not, by itself, sufficient to accomplish such change. Overly ambitious objectives may turn people off when the expected results fail to materialize.

2. Training should be viewed as but one element of a capacity building strategy.


What should the length, duration, and timing of training be?

Short (under a week) and intensive; moderate (5-10 days) and intensive; long (11 days and up) and intensive; short and extensive (e.g., 4 days over 4 months); moderate, and extensive; long, and extensive.

1. Intensive training is usually less difficult to plan and deliver, but may result in intolerable levels of disruption to the organization's functioning.

2. When training is extensive, it is more difficult to maintain momentum for change but easier to discuss problems associated with the application of training content to an organizational setting.


How should the training be evaluated?

Participant feedback; client feedback; observation of participants; observation of services to clients; assessments of the organization's functional capacities; comparative assessments (before and after training) of the organization's effectiveness in achieving its mission; or, a mix of several of these options.

1. The ultimate purpose of training is to achieve a fundamental change in an organization's achievement of mission. Impact evaluation must address this issue.

2. Formative evaluation is critical to improving an organization's training program and can be gathered from many difference sources including participants, clients, and observers.


What follow-up to training should there be?

Additional training; on-site technical assistance to support implementation of new ideas; "maintenance meetings" for trainees; newsletters; networking of former trainees; provision of opportunities for some trainees to serve as trainers in future training sessions.

1. The planning and implementation of follow-up is an essential component of any training design.


How should training be financed?

Fully funded by the sponsor (e.g., the support organization); through a cost-sharing arrangement between the organization and the sponsor; fully funded by the organization; modest trainee financial contribution to cover some aspect of the training program (e.g., materials, lodging, in-kind donation of time).

1. Cost-sharing helps organizations to value the training they receive.

2. Trainees should be expected to contribute to the cost of training only when participation in training is at their option, and when direct benefit will accrue to them as a result of their having participated in the training (e.g., salary increments, promotions).