In Training on Trial by James and Wendy Kirkpatrick, the reader is presented with the idea of viewing his training endeavors as though they were part of a legal case. Throughout the book, the Kirkpatricks use the legal trial metaphor to explain how learning professionals should operate when confronted with challenges.
Early in the book, the authors provide the reader with a guide that addresses the legal metaphor, so readers do not have to have a legal background to read and understand the book. For example, the training professional is the "defendant" who must respond to business stakeholders' "summons" regarding their training programs and initiatives.
The book is replete with metaphors, stories, tips, and illustrations that are helpful in understanding what the authors are trying to communicate. Plenty of real-world examples are included, and the reader will encounter stories that have taken place at well-known businesses and companies. The authors' focus on writing a practical book does come at a cost, however. There is very little information in the book about the theory and research associated with training initiatives within organizations. The bulk of the book focuses on how the Kirkpatricks have addressed situations that they have faced while working in the learning and development field.
Training on Trial also pays homage to Donald Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation, and the latter part of the book focuses on how to use a proprietary business model that the Kirkpatricks have established - the Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Model (KBPM). While I found this model to be comprehensive, this book gave little information on alternative models and methods. The book addresses several realistic scenarios that training professionals might find themselves facing as businesses continue to explore the value that training adds to their organization's bottom line. Training on Trial offers several mental exercises throughout that are intended to prepare training professionals to defend their programs from the criticism that they often receive.
While I found the book's lack of depth to be frustrating at times, I did like how it focused on the practical application of the KBPM. Training on Trial was also filled with abstract metaphors that often overlapped with one another. Sometimes these metaphors made sense to me, and sometimes they didn't. I do feel that the book offers some valuable tips and ideas, so I am giving it three cups of coffee.