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Dump the TNA

March 3, 2010
Intersection of Faith and Jargon
Image by subsetsum via Flickr

Every function, every department has their own jargon and acronyms. And they love them. I personally believe it helps each department confuse the other!

One term you will hear when you talk to the Training-L&D/HR fraternity is TNA, short for Training Needs Analysis.

This is a ritual followed every year by HR departments with great gusto, because it leads to the TB, short for Training Budget.

And the assumption is that TB leads to greater EE, short for Employee Engagement.

Like a lot of other processes, I think this one too is now outdated.

TNA 000
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A TNA is administered post-facto, it is a retrospective look at the gaps which exist. This data is collated from the Performance Discussions (PD in short) that managers hold with their teams at the end of the appraisal cycle.

I propose instead, a far more proactive and business aligned manner of managing the same function. But I won’t call it training. I’ll call it Capability Development or CD for short. And I would suggest we all run a CNA, Capability Needs Analysis for short.

What does this mean?

Look at your organization’s strategy (typically a 3 year period), deep dive to understand the Technical and Managerial Capabilities that will drive this strategy. Deep dive to understand the organization culture and leadership style that will facilitate the strategy, and on that basis, draw up the capabilities which the following levels will require:

  1. Managers
  2. General Managers
  3. Vice Presidents
  4. Heads of Business
  5. Entrepreneur/Owner

This defines the key focus areas of development for the organization as a whole. This defines the curriculum each level needs to go through. Instead of being retrospective, this is a more proactive, future-focussed and business-aligned approach to building OC, which is short for Organizational Capability.

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Comments? Thoughts? Suggestions? Examples/Experiences?

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Pradyumna permalink
    July 22, 2010 2:02 pm

    Hey Gurprriet,
    Enjoyed reading about the shift from TNI to CNA! I also agree with the reasoning attached.
    Amit’s observation that organizations need line managers’ support is actually very important. Without that all innovations fall flat on their faces!
    Hope to read more about such important issues… 🙂

  2. Subir permalink
    July 22, 2010 12:34 pm

    A rose by any other name…
    TNA /CNA/ILP/EDP/EEP… While I agree with the over all approach to a capability needs analysis, I am still not sure if any organization that actually looks “Seriously” at investing in an individual for more than the immidiate future.
    I embarked on the Individual Learning Plan( I personally try to avoid the term “training” wrt human beings) and took a 3 year horizon … HR and OPs alike rejected the very thought with a cynical view of who has looked and seen that far!
    Even an annual review of learning needs is a pain with most back office organizations as operational excigencies always supercede individual learning needs.
    For Functional learning it may have time as OJT usually is an easy substitute… but true learning environments are very hard to come by.
    The begining of a really employee centric learning environment is when I get to go through an assessment centre at the start of my journey in the organization and have a mentor in my supervisor who is working to see me grow and is a wholehearted participant in making a success out of me over an extended timeframe. It is true for ANY level. Once the individual knows that leaarning and execution are inseperable and the entire chain of command is aligned to make the organization learning friendly … we will have “Utopia”!
    I dream of such an organization … I know it will be a reality … someday … We will make it happen…

  3. March 19, 2010 6:56 pm

    I totally agree with you.

  4. March 15, 2010 10:04 pm

    What you say makes sense, but doesn’t go far enough, in my opinion anyway. The opinion is based on a couple of decades of experience in teaching and researching business, consulting and working as a line executive. I should also note that I teach exec edu programs around the world for mid-to-senior execs in multi-billion dollar companies.

    In my book, The Spider’s Strategy (available in an Indian edition too; named “One of the 30 Best Business Books of 2009”), I argue that organizations don’t learn because the responsibility for managing learning is mis-placed. Say you attend a managerial training program and learn some pretty neat stuff. To actually apply the stuff, you need three things to work in sync: culture, organizational structure and processes. These three are powerful, mutually reinforcing elements of a company so much so that changing merely one is insufficient — that change gets rejected. If the “new” ideas are consistent with this “Learning Engine (TM),” it gets adopted, at least in part. If not, it gets rejected as useless. The problem is that the new ideas may actually be essential for the organization to continue to thrive — or in other words, the Learning Engine MUST be changed. And it can’t do this. Professor Andrew Van de Ven had once written, “New ideas that are not perceived as useful aren’t called innovations. They are called mistakes.” So, no amount of initial planning is sufficient — unless the necessary changes to the Learning Engine are taken into account. Who manages the Learning Engine on a day-to-day basis? It is not HR or Talent Management or whatever, but line executives. So, that’s why I say that the responsibility for managing learning is mis-placed. There are ways of fixing this, but that’s for another day.


    • Satpal Kaur permalink
      July 23, 2010 12:54 pm

      Hi Amit and Gurprriet-

      I am new reader of your blog. I liked the article.
      Gurpreeit, a nice article to trigger brainstorming on different ideas on training process in a way! You are right in identifying the required shift to CNA at strategic level which can be aligned to organizational goals for a time frame. It is supported by OBSC, short for Organization Balance Score Card. This need analysis may bring out some of the capability areas which are new to meet goals.
      At the same time what Amit said it also true in my experience. The responsibility to identify development gaps and bridge those gaps to meet day to day tactical / operational needs lies with Line managers. Creating a learning centric organization is highly dependent on organization focus, goals, culture and Budget.
      Satpal Kaur

  5. March 10, 2010 12:54 pm

    Then, CNA becomes a strategic level activity as opposed to a transactional activity today. Excellent! Senior Management involvement will become critical as well. Such CNA would ensure that HR is ever more aligned and sensitive to Business Strategy.

  6. March 9, 2010 5:35 pm

    Its always good to call TNA with other name( HR people good in giving new and attractive names ) As the note mentioning unless until we improve process of TNA or look forward for future capabilities required and plan for Development,its meaningful for the Organization.I like to share the Process we follow in my company.

    Training and Development Needs Identification Process

    Organizational and Departmental Needs can be identified in Following Sources

     Annual Manpower Planning Review
     Critical Indicator Report from various Departments.

    R & D
     Project Review and Lessons Learned Meetings
     Field Reports from Customer Care Departments
     Design Error Reports from Manufacturing and Validation Reports from all Sales Divisions
     Customer Feedback Report on each Product
     Report on Project Milestones


     Field Report from Customer Care Department
     Reports on Manufacturing Milestones- like
     Committed Delivery date Vs Actual Delivery Dates
     Manpower Utilization
     Dead Inventory

     Customer Feedback Report on each Product

    Business Divisions

     Analysis of Report on Achieved Targets Vs Set Targets
     Analysis of New Clients Added
     Analysis of Lost Customers

    Customer Care Department

     Customer Care Satisfaction Index
     Analysis of Critical Customer Feedbacks
     Analysis of Lost Customers

    Individual Training and Needs can be identified in following sources

     Performance Appraisal Recommendation
     HR Reviews
     Potential Appraisal Process


  7. March 4, 2010 10:29 am

    When I was in school, my teachers kept focusing on my weak areas so that I could get stronger. When I started my career every manager of mine kept focusing on my weak areas so that I could get stronger. This went on to as late as 5 years ago. And what did it do to me? Made me an acceptable ‘mediocre’ resource.

    I wonder when organizations would start ‘searching’ for potential strengths in people with the intent to build on them. Wouldn’t that give you a better ROI? (acronym intended) 🙂

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      March 4, 2010 2:16 pm

      ROI is better than RONA 😉
      Good to hear from you Bro!

  8. Dominic Rajesh permalink
    March 3, 2010 3:52 pm

    I agree with you! Learning and Development needs to be more proactive than reactive. There are some behaviors that cannot be changed by a two day or three day program – when this is the case, it is important for Learning and Development leaders to share this and figure out other ways to develop the person!!

  9. vishal khanna permalink
    March 3, 2010 2:51 pm

    So true apart from the fact that it is outdated you invariably end with the same training needs for the same person and that too sometimes repeteadly for 2-3 years …. funny isnt it that one individual needs communication skills for three years and after having gone thru the prog atleast 3 times he still is not able to communicate either shame on the trainers or the training function or else we are workking with jerks

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      March 3, 2010 6:05 pm

      :o) Typical Vishal style – straight in the face!

  10. March 3, 2010 2:01 pm

    Haha! Very well-written, Gurprriet! All those acronyms indeed confuse one.
    But, indeed, what you say makes sense to me. A training need analysis exercise can quickly degenerate into a wishlist, if not managed properly. And moreover, it may not necessarily serve the purpose, if the whole process is not aligned to the business and the strategy.

    I also feel that instead of relying on training metrics such as training hours per employees, one should really focus on skill-gaps closed (skill-gaps which are identified to be critical to the strategy).

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      March 3, 2010 2:11 pm

      Absolutely! And the jargon leaders are the folks from Finance, followed closely by IT!

      The most appropriate measure for such training would be how many people get promoted internally, that is the final test of capability building i.e. are we value adding to the Leadership Pipeline.


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