Our Approach

At Next Level, we believe our approach to working with clients is as valuable and differentiating as the services we offer.  Our approach can be summarized in the following quote:

“Diagnosis and treatment without first understanding is malpractice.”

Some of our client-partners know exactly what they want. In these situations they select one of our pre-developed programs that matches their needs or we custom-design an engagement.  Other clients are very clear on what they want the engagement to achieve (a.k.a. the Desired Outcomes) and not clear on what the content should look like. In these situations we design the engagement collaboratively with them.  We accommodate either approach.

Just as aircraft pilots consistently work to align the key four elements in aviation–attitude, altitude, airspeed and heading–we believe every successful development engagement begins with our understanding of your responses to the following four questions.

The Four Questions We Ask to Understand Your Preferences

  1. What are your Desired Outcomes?   
  2. How much Time for the engagement? 
  3. What type of/Do you want Pull-Through Application
  4. How will you determine/Measure Success?

While our trainers and coaches enjoy asking purposeful questions during an engagement’s discovery and design phase, there are four pieces of information we need to hear from you at the outset in order to submit a meaningful proposal. Your answers to these four will guide future questions and the overall design. A response of “I don’t know” or “We’re not sure at this point” or “What would you recommend?”  is fine.  However, we’ve learned over the years that the alignment of the responses is just as important to a project’s success as the responses themselves.

We have a client-friendly, interactive document that allows you to provide us with your responses to these questions. Please ask us and we will email this initial assessment document to you for you to complete. We’ve provided a snapshot of the four questions below. As you read through them, you’ll notice a continuum and an arrow below three of the questions. Imagine sliding the arrow to one side or the other to reflect your current thinking on the training or coaching you want.

1.   What are/How clear are your engagement’s Desired Outcomes?

It all begins with what you want to achieve at the conclusion of the training or 1:1 coaching engagement.  Some of our clients know exactly what they want. Other clients have several ideas and collaborate with us to crystallize and shape their training’s outcomes. We enjoy working with both approaches.

An example of a very clear Desired Outcome for a training on coaching skills: “At the conclusion of the training, leaders will be able to deliver coaching that is both candid and constructive in a way reflective of our organization’s tell-it-like-it-is, no nonsense culture.”  

More conceptual                                                 Very clear


2. How much Time do you imagine for the engagement?

Training engagements range from a half-day to 4 days and from one module to multiple modules separated by months.  One-to-one leadership coaching engagements range from 9-12 months.  It’s important that the time dedicated aligns with your thoughts on the other three questions.  If you are unsure how much time it will take to achieve your Desired Outcomes, please ask us; we’re delighted to provide guidance based on our experience.  Relatedly, we also like to know how many participants you envision in the training.


3. What type of/Do you want Pull-Through Application?

Some of our clients know from the start that participants will be required to apply content from the training or coaching; in order to be successful, the engagement needs to have behavioral impact in the workplace. Other clients simply don’t have the appetite or budget for Pull-Through. We can accommodate either approach.  However, we need to know this information during the proposal phase of the engagement because your preferences will inform the content design and budget.

An example of one of our pharmaceutical client’s answer to the Pull-Through question: “By November 1, leaders will be expected to use the candid and constructive coaching method during 1:1 conversations.  During the months following, leaders will be assessed by their managers on how effectively they apply the coaching method.”  

Application optional   Application required


4.  How will you determine/Measure Success for the engagement?

Will post-engagement participant evaluations (a.k.a. smile sheets) determine the success of the engagement?  Or, do you and your stakeholders prefer a more robust measurement tool?  As with Pull-Through Application, our clients have different appetites for measuring the success of the engagement (and determining Next Level’s impact). 

At Next Level, we have been fans of the time-tested Kirkpatrick Model™ for decades. The Kirkpatrick four-levels for measuring impact provide a useful way to think about training and development efforts. You can learn more about the Kirkpatrick model here: https://www.kirkpatrickpartners.com/the-kirkpatrick-model/  

There are other measuring methods. We can support the measurement method you prefer and the method your organization may already be using.  However, the method you prefer will inform the content and overall design of the engagement.

Participant evaluations
Observation based


Some of our clients have preferences on these four questions; some clients want to co-develop their responses with us.  Whatever your current preferences, we’d like to hear them so we can draft a substantive initial proposal for your specific engagement.