Friday Fresh #38: Do You Change Lives, or Do You Only Deliver Knowledge?

This week, we’re diving into a fundamental question that can transform the way you approach training: Do you change lives, or do you only deliver knowledge?

Let’s turn it into a story

Lenny and Maria both start a baking class. Initially, it was fascinating for both of them – they learned all about baking, flour, ingredients, temperature, and a million other things. Then, they start learning how to bake, and within a few weeks, the course is completed.

Lenny takes everything she’s learned and starts experimenting in her own kitchen. After months of testing and trying different recipes, she perfects a few of them and is the proud maker of some incredible desserts. The popularity of those treats inspires her to start a business, and a few years later, she’s even able to expand it by opening a second bakery.

Maria, however, gets absorbed back into the daily routine and the little skill she has acquired slowly fades away. After all, practice is everything.

This scenario highlights a crucial point—merely having knowledge doesn’t help much. For knowledge to truly be effective, it must be practised and transformed into skills. When these skills are practised repeatedly, they eventually become abilities.

Think of it like learning to drive:

  1. Knowledge: First, you learn what’s what in a car—the pedals, the steering wheel, the rules of the road.
  2. Skills: Then, you start driving, practising how to manoeuvre, brake, and navigate.
  3. Abilities: Finally, one day, you hop in the car and drive without even thinking about it, having internalised all the skills into an automatic ability.

Understanding KSAs: Knowledge, Skills, Abilities

In the UK, the educational framework introduces the concept of KSBs—Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours. We’ll refer to them as KSAs—Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities for our purposes. Here’s why this concept is vital for training providers:


  • Definition: This is the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
  • Role in Training: It forms the foundation of any learning process, providing the essential information learners need to understand a topic.


  • Definition: These are the abilities acquired through practice and learning, enabling individuals to perform tasks effectively.
  • Role in Training: Skills are what allow learners to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in real-world scenarios.


  • Definition: These refer to the competencies and behaviours that enable individuals to adapt and excel in various situations.
  • Role in Training: Abilities encompass the application of skills and knowledge, reflecting a learner’s capability to perform and grow in their professional and personal lives.

Do You Change Lives?

Knowledge Delivery: Many training programs focus solely on knowledge, delivering information and expecting learners to absorb it. While this is essential, it’s just the beginning. Knowledge without application and adaptability often falls short of creating meaningful change.

Transformative Training: When you integrate KSAs into your training programs, you create a holistic learning experience that goes beyond mere knowledge delivery. This approach ensures that your learners understand the subject matter and can develop the skills to apply it and the abilities to adapt and thrive in various environments.

Practical Tips for Implementing KSAs

  1. Analyse Your Learning with the Theory in Mind
    Tip: Develop curriculums that address all three aspects of KSAs. Start with foundational knowledge, incorporate skill-building activities, and include exercises that enhance abilities.
  2. Collaborate on the Learning You’re ProvidingTip: Involve learners in every stage of their learning. Encourage collaboration, opinions, and discussions with other learners and instructors.
  3. Enable Self-Directed LearningTip: Create a more self-directed, independent learning environment for your adult learners, allowing them to train when and where they want.
  4. Use Real-World Learning ExamplesTip: Inject your course content with real-world examples. Show learners how training will benefit them immediately.
  5. Let Your Learners Figure It Out ThemselvesTip: Since adults prefer problem-solving over just the facts, build courses that challenge them to use their skills to overcome realistic problems.

Final Thoughts

Incorporating the KSAs framework into your training programs is essential for creating transformative learning experiences. By recognising the different stages of the Learning Cycle and designing your training to develop skills and abilities, you can significantly enhance the impact of your training. For courses where this is impossible, guide your learners on taking the knowledge and turning it into more.

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