Dumbo, Flying Turkey and Training Effectiveness

One question that troubles training/HR professionals is how to measure effectiveness of training. Though there are many methods to do that ex. Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Model or ROI on investment, measuring of effectiveness of training is still a grey area.

There are two stories which highlight this problem.

Once there was a young elephant called Dumbo, he had very large ears. Once a mouse gave Dumbo a magic feather and told him if Dumbo held that feather in his trunk and flapped his ears then he could fly. Dumbo did what he was told and he could actually fly. One day he lost feather, but when he flapped his ears, he could still fly despite feather.


Many feel that training programs are like feather, its presence or absence makes no difference. A person will perform irrespective of whether he undergoes training or not. He performs because he is talented.

Second story is told by Dave Ulrich in his training programs. Once an organisation nominated turkeys to attend training program on “how to fly”. For next two days they learned how to fly over rivers, mountains, buildings etc. After training program was over… they walked home!


This story highlights the fact that sometimes training is effective only during training programs, post training the employee forgets about what he has learned and from next day he continues to work the way he did before attending the program.




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