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After the hot wash

March 17, 2008

It is the events after the hot wash that validate and gives value to the entire process as a training evaluation tool. If nothing is done with the information generated then nothing is gained from the resources expended.

The actions taken after the hot wash are:

  • Transfer and organise the notes
  • Create and action plan
  • Publish and promote
  • Follow up

Transfer and organise notes: The hot wash must be documented. Things that seem irrelevant or impractical right now, may be plausible or a solution to another problem at some time in the future. Start with transcribing the notes from the white board / note pad onto something than can be included as an annex to the hot wash report.

Afterward, they can be reorganised to highlight points that were identified as most important (by the asterisks) or to ‘score’ the training effort for future comparison with similar programs.

Create an action plan: It is now up to you as a training manager to identify what can be done to make the biggest impact, with the least resources and as quick as possible. It is well and good to highlight problems but if the solution cannot be resourced, there is no point in making promises that cannot be fulfilled. You also shouldn’t try and fix everything in one hit. Identify three to five actions that can be implemented and will have a measurable affect to the training.

These are the questions I ask myself, in order of relevance to identify which items to include as part of my action plan.

  • What can we do?
  • What will yield the best results?
  • What will work the fastest?
  • What will use the least resources?

The goals is to get something out there that will fix a problem as quick as possible.

Publish and promote: Tell the world. Let everyone know what was learned, what are the resulting recommendations and what actions will be taken as a result of the training evaluation. The message you want to send is “this produces results”. How it is published it is up to you – a formal report, an email or at a meeting but don’t just pass it on to a select few. Of course sensitive or ‘in-confidence’ information will need to be vetted or made anonymous but don’t assume that these lessons only apply to a small group or a single field.

Follow up: Afterward, evaluate your actions and recommendations. Were they implemented as promised? Did they work? Have they opened up new doors (or let skeletons out of closets)? Don’t just ‘fire and forget’, hoping that the group knew exactly what they were doing and what the ensuing consequences would be?


The hot wash can be a valuable training evaluation tool that can produce effective results very quickly. It doesn’t rely on differentiating trends from statistical variations and the information comes straight from the source. It encourages participation, critical assessment and reflection on learning as well as avoiding the repetition of mistakes.

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