In Melbourne, Australia in 1970, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson designed the generic Career Acceleration Program (CAP). He used principles distilled from his leadership training experience in the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force.


From 1967 through 1974 in Australia and South Viet Nam, Dr. Hewitt-Gleeson studied, as part of his military training and service, world-class Australian Army officer training in leadership, survival, confidence training, methods of instruction and military arts. He conducted further experiments while serving as a Chief Instructor in the Royal Australian Air Force as a Reserve Officer.

Hewitt-Gleeson discovered the value of Instructor Training in the military. The way military schools used coaching and mentoring to train young soldiers and officers. The military say that “the school of experience may be a good teacher but the tuition is prohibitive. It costs too much time to learn that way”. In 1970 he distilled his insights into the CAP Philosophy:

Whatever it is that you are doing, someone, somewhere is already doing it a "much better way".

Shrink your doing time to 80% and spend the spare 20% researching for that "much better way".

When you find the "much better way" you can leap straight to it, by-passing experience, which is too slow and too costly.

In 1976 at HBO Studios in New York he produced a 3-part video version of his train-the-trainer program (CAP I, II and II) which became the first nationwide video training program in the USA. The program was first used by Equitable Life Assurance in 185 of their branches across the US and also by the Ford Motor Company.

Since then, continuous, focused development of the training technology in the marketing, business, and public training applications has brought its evolution to its current stage of development.

CAP is a train-the-trainer technology, for converting knowledge into skill. In training CAP instructors, six principles are emphasised:

1. Learning By Teaching:

Learning by teaching means that if you have to explain something to someone else, then you must have already learned to explain it to yourself. So people are encouraged to teach their skills to each other, to their families, to friends online and offline.

2. Knowledge into Skill:

In academic education, lessons are often designed using SLOs (Student Learning Objectives). The evaluating question is asked: What will the student know? In military education, lessons are often designed using SPOs (Student Performance Objectives). The question is asked: What will the student do? There is a BIG difference in outcomes between these two methods of instruction. This important principle is about developing a thorough understanding and conviction of the difference between merely having knowledge on a matter and owning a skill of performance in it. The virtue of virtuosity. Understanding the strategy of practice and repetition.

3. Measurement:

Unless one was deliberately willing to trade off the necessary time and energy needed to acquire a new skill – that is, logging the hours of practice and repetition – the trainee could never expect to go beyond the knowing stage and reach a level of operating skill. This means focusing on the process and measuring it in hours of practice and key performance indicators (KPIs).

4. Commitment to Action:

The skills must be useful in daily life. To assist the transfer of skills acquired in training to real life situations, trainees designed specific “action commitments” on special planners including times, dates, places, etc.

5. Effective Follow-up:

The monitoring of feedback and measuring results were an important part of CAP. Checking to see if what happened was what the trainee really wanted. This became a continuous part of the process.

6. Reinforcement:

Noticing increments of progress in acquiring new skills and then recognising them in an appropriate way by feeding back information–cybernetically–for positive reinforcement were fundamental principles of CAP.




191 thoughts on “TRAIN-THE-TRAINER: The CAP Philosophy

  1. Having been in a teaching position in University I thoroughly agree that you “learn by teaching”. Having to teach someone else can force you to think more deeply about a subject or technique and go beyond the dogma or act of carrying something out to a greater understanding of the underlying principals.

  2. Like others, the Effective Follow-up is always the hardest to achieve. We lead busy working lives and tend to work through issues and then sail on to the next one. Measuring the impact of decisions isn’t something many of us consciously do on a timely or consistent basis and we probably should! That will be the most important lesson I will take away from today’s session.

  3. You cannot be a virtuoso at everything. With the amount of training and commitment required, you cannot spread yourself too thinly (ie “jack of all trades, master of none”).
    Wouldn’t it be great if all the various training courses we do had these 6 elements? Most of the $billions spent by organisations each year on training and development is wasted.

  4. I see a lot of these 6 principles in the workplace, it is stuff we do with our staff on a day to day basis. A new learning for me was identifying that I need to apply these to myself as a manager and leader.

  5. I agree with the principles. The challenge is finding out what you want to apply them to. There is 2 sides to the coin of Learning by Teaching … you need to ensure you let the pupil become the master, teach themselves or risk micromanaging. From my perspective the principles need to be applied from a holistic level to be of true value. Steps 3-6 are often the most difficult with quantitative understanding of impact and consequence / reward the effect will be diminished.

    If you context CAP for a start-up business, where survival is the imperative, the consequences of not delivering points 3-6 is bankruptcy. For a large public organisation the consequences are less severe in the short term but underperformance in the long term could lead to extinction.

    We need to be Capable, Responsible and Accountable.

  6. 4. As part of my establishment of a management training team within a larger work group I look for frameworks to use as areference for decision making and leadership within the group – a starting point is commitment to the team which in practice helps with problem solving especially when issues become complicated by emotion – so, CAP principles can be applied in this context as helping to provide a process for decision making under pressure.

  7. All six principles are essential for achieving improvement and change through the actions of others, however, in my experience; “reinforcement” is one which is often lacking in the workplace.

  8. To be an excellent leader you need to be versed in the CAP principles because they encapsulate everything a leader needs to know to lead a team or to command a force through the ability to teach, transfer and to take action through reinforcement.

  9. Training Facilitators is what I do. Mentoring (CAP 1) and skills tranfer(CAP2) are the fundamentals of workplace skills development training. Just as important, but often neglected, are how well facilitators follow up and reinforce the important points when teaching the theory.

  10. A big work on for me will be that i need to provide effective follow up and be accountable to the plans i have set out. it would be great to learn how to give effective feedback or what is referred to as CPR because we all know feedback is the food of champions

  11. It seems pretty straight forward to me…learn, practise, development, measure and feedback…it’s getting the constant flow and jumping the barriers placed in front of you that is the real challenge….hence CVS to BVS

  12. How do I keep CAP in mind?
    Teach Skill, Measure, Act with Follow-up, and Reinforce for better & better Results.
    I will continue to remember 6 CAP Principles

  13. A common sense approach which is powerful when applied:
    Learn, Practice, Measure, Commit, Follow through and reinforce. What you need to do to turn concept into reality.

  14. The six skills (CAPS) make sense and are all things that leaders should do anyway. I guess the trick is to make them second nature so that we use them all consistently and without having to conciously think and check that we are doing them.

  15. the two that are morst pertinant to me are Commitment to Action and Effective follow up . There are hundreds of good ideas , courses etc available but none of them work without taking effective action and following up and following through. So I ‘m committing to getting those two under my belt .

  16. The six steps create a cycle of continuous self improvement – Practice what you learn, review your performance, create action commitments from your review then practice what you learn…..

  17. Wow – how much of this is missing in the training schedules of companies I’ve been involved with. The follow up and repetition is the key but all too often the time investment is just not made.

  18. i love learning by teaching…we encourage the students in our learning environment to “lend a skill” to others, so they too can articulate their thinking; knowledge into skill: an essential way to demonstrate understanding and skill acquisition; measurement: can be so difficult to gauge if you are not sure what you are looking for or how to measure…indicative of where a child is “at” with their learning at that particular time; commitment to action: always relevant to the learner!
    effective follow up: always!; reinforcement: must always be positive!

  19. No.5 Effective Follow Up. Attention to critical adherence to what the trainer wanted and whether it was in fact achieved should lead to the ability to perform unsupervised. This leads to a desire to acquire a skill for its practical applications. Proving it works makes it easy to pass on. The whole concept of CAP 6 is brilliant.JMD

  20. It is difficult to identify that one particular CAP as contributing to effective leadership and these constitute a sequence of actions which are important to effective leadership. I think that the final point of reinforcement is particualrly interesting – incremental change can be in small steps and identifying the point at which a leader needs to provide reinforcement is not always easy.

  21. I think the principles are accurate and useful. I especially believe that being able to measure progress, give specific feedback and giving praise and encouragement are key features in development and leadership.

  22. I have thought a lot about the CAP Principle of Knowledge into Skill. It seems to me that there is often a risk, with changes to technological solutions and theories about management – and for that matter, learning – that virtuosity may be undervalued. Changes and upgrades in approaches to utilising new skills, often considered interesting or exciting, need a leader to champion them. The focus can then become mastery and transferrence of a skill, with leaders offering support to achieve mastery. For example, traineeships versus apprenticeships have had a notiable impact on the quality and focus of skills in a number of industries (eg. optican technicians are few and the technical knowledge gained through apprenticeships, that once enhanced the profession, is lost with traineeships that focus more on sales and customer service skills).

  23. Measurement…I think this will be extremely valuable to me, because I will focus on the process, and put in the (HOP) hours of practice to become an expert. This will help me continue practice, use repetition, and rehearse and continue the process. I think it instills discipline in me.

  24. Learning By Teaching :
    I think teaching one self is a great way to teach others.Taking the has taught me how to teach myself and share it with my family and friends.

  25. Assessment, measurement, and feedback are three very important principles for me in that they provide the me with the impetus to continue with any activities I will be engaged in.

  26. The 6 CAP Principles of “Train the Trainer”

    1. Learning By Teaching
    2. Knowledge into Skill
    3. Measurement
    4. Commitment to Action
    5. Effective Follow-up
    6. Reinforcement

    I need to work on all six

  27. Measurement – this is what i have to work on. :Put in the practice and log time so i can actually look at my progress. I can only obtain the skill of playing the mandoline well if i practice every day.

  28. 1. Learning By Teaching
    2. Knowledge into Skill
    3. Measurement
    4. Commitment to Action
    5. Effective Follow-up
    6. Reinforcement

    I need to practice these skills in the workplace. i have a long way to go

  29. “Knowledge is not enough. We must do” Bruce Lee

    Formative Assesment of students during training recognises a few principles as an integrated meaure and in turn Knowledge becomes an acquired ability with practice.
    Can I do? Do I have the ability to demonstrate a skill?
    Are the questions from the students relevant?
    Do I have the relevant knowledge to answer the questions?
    Have I provided relevant demonstrations to enable the student to copy. Is my feedback helpful? Am I achieving the outcomes I wanted?

  30. Learning by teaching. I have heard many times that if you really want to learn a subject, then teach it. If I were to learn all there is about fishing for e.g. using the other principles of the caps then this places me in a position to teach it. There is an old saying which says “Give a boy a fish and he will be nourished by that one meal but if you teach him to fish then that boy can be nourished for life. By my teaching this boy then I greatly increase my own fishing skills and joy in life.

  31. focus on what you need to do
    and commitment to action

    you need to do something along the road to achieve
    what you want
    small short term goals leading to where you want to be

  32. Principle 4 is a key for me. A commitment to action. Continuity and continual improvement planning and action planning will make me a better leader.

    To correct Julie’s statement below (only because it is on my desk and something I have lived by for a while now)

    “knowing is not enough we must apply, willing is not enough we must do” Bruce Lee.

    This quote is quite apt for this topic. There’s plenty of stupid intelligent people….I don’t plan on being one of them!

    Do less of which has no value and acquire and apply new skills that do.

  33. While the 1st principle was already known to me through my life, the rest requires more advanced thinking-through, and that’s what I do.

  34. Training and teaching requires mastery of the material, and students often ask good questions which make the teacher think.
    He or she may not have a ready answer.

    The result is a different perspective for the teacher.

    The feedback from students improves the teacher’s presentation for the next students.

  35. It’s interesting to think about and easy to remember. 6 principles how many was I already utilizing and how many was I missing out on unfortunately I was missing out on more..

  36. For me the most important principles are Learning by Teaching and Knowledge into Skill.
    After each session with my clients I am writing down what I have learnt from them and from me aswell.
    I understood the need of having a strategy of practice and repetition 2 years ago and since than each new skill I’m practicing for at least 30 days.

  37. wisdom = experience and knowledge together wth the power of applying them critically or practically. i have this quotation on my wall and believe CAP is a nice breakdown of the quote into pratical training terms.

  38. these rules are fantastic. by the time you get to 4 you are on your way and five and six never stop

  39. Learning by teaching means that if you have to explain something to someone else, then you must have already learned to explain it to yourself. So people are encouraged to teach their skills to each other, to their families, to friends, and so on.

    After learning by teaching, th Knowledge into Skill

    Developing a thorough understanding and conviction of the difference between merely having knowledge on a matter and owning a skill of performance in it. The virtue of virtuosity. Understanding the strategy of practice and repetition

  40. After learning by teaching, then turn the Knowledge into Skill

    Develop a thorough understanding of the difference between merely having knowledge on a matter and owning a skill of performance in it.

    Understand the strategy of practice and repetition
    Practice, practice,practice.

  41. Learn by teaching. Having recently done some training, its the questions on the fundamental assumptions that you have held with out examining that reminds me how you can be affected with the PTV and not know or realize it.

  42. Six CAP Principles are equally dominating on its important in application and the better life. I am applying these six principles , but not beome as a master. I am sure, when I become master in the application of these six principles then the success is guranteed. In brief, this is to success in reality.

  43. The Career Acceleration program is a six stage formal, systematic approach to covering the most important aspects of teaching skills to others. The approach relies upon the teacher both gaining and teaching the necessity of virtuosity, keeping logs and records as a pilot would, deliberate scheduling of the use of skills in the form of action commitments, with checking the ongoing logs and records while constantly recognising incremental progress with appropriate positive reinforcement.

  44. There needs to be more practice and rehearsal incorporated in University training. I studied part-time in the 1970s and worked full time great way to develop skill. Practice and study as partners. I can’t help but to believe that we developed better skilled professionals through this model. Great model!

  45. Has a lot in common with quality improvement principles such as those outlined by Demming. Which makes sense. What is being said here and earlier is to treat our learning and skill enhancement like a quality improvement process. Planning, commitment, action, measurement, results.

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