Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the underlying reasons why providing process improvement training, by itself, may not be sufficient to achieve the desired outcome of improved processes; and to attempt a conceptual framework of management training for more effective improvement. Design/methodology/approach – Two similar units within the same financial service group are studied specifically through online surveys, follow up interviews and a subsequent comparative study focusing on the disparity of outcome following the same training activities. Findings – The research reveals three underlying reasons for the failure of the process improvement training: an un-sound prerequisite knowledge basis, too short a time span for the feedback dynamics to take effect, and weak cultural commitment in the management population. A training provision framework that put those factors into a structure has been developed. Practical implications – The study clarifies the relations between many factors and puts emphasis on more fundamental organisational culture change. The developed framework provides direct guidance to process design and implementation to achieve the desired results. Originality/value – The study represents the original firsthand empirical research over the last three years in a leading edge financial service organisation in the UK, which results in a novel conceptual framework that improves managerial practice.