Randall Smith from PowerLabs shares a framework for thinking about training and behaviour change called KSW or KSAW.
KSW or KSAW (the A is for attitude) is the framework we use to decide on training objectives and the format we’ll use to ensure learning and behaviour change happens.
KSW or KSAW
The KSW process can increase people’s:
- Knowledge — Information or understanding gained from experience or education
- Skills — Ability to do something that comes from training, experience, or practice
- Wisdom — Ability to contemplate and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight
If behaviour doesn’t change, the training was a failure.
A wide range of organizations PowerLabs have worked with have found KSAW helpful.
For example, an immigrant rights organization used KSAW to revamp its training program to move people from crowd to core, and a climate organization used it to design a political education, relationship-building, and action program that created hundreds of teams.
Many other organizations are using KSAW to help them think about how to get people from what they currently know and do to what they need to know and do to build the power they need to win.
How to use KSAW
Say you want member leaders or staff to be more coach-like to develop others’ leadership.
Instead of giving advice or telling people how to solve their problems, we want our learners to be lazy.
Giving someone your focused attention and asking a few questions is much easier than telling people how to solve their problems. It’s also more effective at generating behavioural change than advice-giving because it supports people’s need for autonomy.
Good coaching will increase the quality and quantity of the coachee’s motivation and consequently lead them to:
- Be more persistent in the face of setbacks
- Have a greater sense that they are the author of their own life
- Increase the quality and quantity of the work they perform
- Improve their psychological well-being
In short, coaching works to develop leadership capacity and build healthy organizations in which people thrive.
Be more Curious and Coach-like
Let’s break down how we get someone from advice-giving to being more curious and coach-like.
Knowledge consists of facts. In this example, we might want people to know:
- Coaching is an effective leadership development practice
- The importance of a growth mindset
- Coaching is a good approach when:
- Working with people who you want to see take on more leadership
- Working with people who know more than you do
- Commitment is more important than control
- The challenges the person faces are related to relationships among or with other people
Skills are the ability to do something. We want our learners to be able to:
- Practice empathetic listening
- Identify common opportunities to coach
- Follow the four steps of the GROW coaching model
Attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically reflected in a person’s behaviour. We want our learners to feel eager to try coaching.
Wisdom is the ability to contemplate and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. We want our learners to be able to when to choose a coaching approach in different contexts.
Barriers to Learning and Behaviour Change
It also can be helpful to think about barriers to learning and behaviour change. For coaching, the barrier might be this fact:
People get their basic psychological needs met by giving advice or telling people what to do.
Shifting from being a person who always knows the correct answer to one who facilitates insight can require rethinking one’s identity and the value one provides to others.
Once we have our KSAW and barriers figured out, we can choose how we will meet each of these objectives.
Of course, knowledge can be increased through lectures, but it also can be bolstered through reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, dialogue, and more.
Skills can’t be developed by consuming content; a participant has to do the thing and get informational feedback (ideally from the work itself) to develop skills.
Attitude is a result of content, training format, and experiences. We want to design our training to result in long-term attitude changes, not just a peak moment and good feelings at the end of the program.
Wisdom is difficult to develop through training. We primarily use case studies where people choose a path forward or a cycle of action and reflection to increase wisdom.
For our coaching example, we might structure our training as a:
- Lecture to introduce the concept and principles (15 min)
- Demo of a coaching session and discussion (25 min)
- Practice coaching in trios where each person coaches and receives informational feedback, gets coached, and observes and gives feedback (45 min)
- Questions and discussion (15 min)
- Reflection on when they will choose a coaching approach (10 min)
We can give each person a handout on the four steps of the GROW model with sample questions to have with them when they coach. This will support them to use the framework instead of defaulting to their standard conversation structure.
Finally, to help develop wisdom we can give people a reflection guide to use after each coaching session and do a follow-up training session for additional practice, reflection and discussion a few weeks after the first session.
Ok, that’s it for our example.
KSAW can help trainers clarify their thinking and make training choices explicit. When done well, it provides the foundation for training that results in behavior change.
About the Author
Randall Smith is the founder of PowerLabs helping people design and build people-powered campaigns using insights from social science. PowerLab specialises in training, coaching and strategic planning support to build the capacity of organizations, leaders and networks.
- Before Action Reviews (BARs) and After Action Reviews (AARs), PowerLabs
- PowerLabs Collection in the Commons Library
- PowerLabs Website
- Training Materials in the Commons Library