How’s capacity building working for you?

3 min readMar 24, 2022


Participants attending a training workshop at Yatta, Kenya (Source: Muindi Kimanzi)

“Let’s train the trainer, capacity build our workforce. While at it, let’s go after a certified status and check off a compliance box or two..”

So goes the play book of learning and development professionals. Tons of funding, a wall of certification plaques, and a lavish celebration later, the same familiar script that training programs follow has failed to move the needle in creating positive outcomes envisaged.

Let’s take Rozie for example. She is a newly trained first aid champion. Infact, her first aid certificate is proudly displayed on her desk. When faced with a workplace emergency, why does she sense a hesitation to jump into action to help? Why does she seem reluctant to grab the first aid kit and call the emergency hotline?

Rozie may have stellar first aid skills but lacks compassion. A mindset shift is needed to address some of her deep-rooted cultural barriers that now manifest as a hesitation to jump in to assist. Why is it that she finds her self more concerned about staying put when she could be her colleague’s best chance of survival? Where did this come from? How come this hesitation was never addressed in the training she participated in?

Upon careful scrutiny of what was missing in the capacity building efforts that her employer had just embarked on, comes the revelation that a concerted effort is needed to deconstruct some of the cultural barriers that now manifest as a hesitation to help. The model used to train her emphasized good intentions to promote health and safety but this did not cut it for Rozie. It seems like a rather simplified approach to create the kind of mind set shift needed to counter some of her deeply-rooted apathic mindset that fails to recognize the sanctity of life.

How does a lack of compassion cripple a well trained first aid champion like Rozie to apathy and inaction? See, Rozie has had a skewed coping mechanism that she has used to deal with the trauma of death becoming commonplace during the epidemic and in times of war. This mindset causes Rozie to throw in the towel and resign to the fact that she can do very little as it all seems futile given her past experience where death followed illness and war.

A simplistic secular model that teaches good intentions will fail to deconstruct years of trauma that have led to this sense of apathy. A Biblical world view is needed to liberate Rozie from this kind of mindset in order to cause her to have a supernatural mindset shift that upholds the sanctity of life and views herself as God’s hands and feet to help those in dire need and give them a fighting chance for survival.

An effective training approach should not only prioritize skills mastery but should also be attentive to any underlying mindset views that may impede upon a person’s ability use their skills to effectively deliver impact/outcomes. Secular models are often too simplistic to address complex deep rooted ideologies masquerading as apathy. A Biblical worldview is needed to supernaturally cause a mindset shift from apathy to true compassion.

The kind of compassion that relentlessly goes out of it’s way to intervene comes from God and compels us to put the needs of others ahead of our own. This cannot be merely taught as part of a simplistic model but demands a supernatural mindset shift.