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Death-by-Powerpoint.  Training guides followed page by page.  The drone of the trainer’s incessant voice inducing head bobs from attendees doing all they can to stay awake.  We’ve all been there.  I’ve got the whiplash to prove it....

Let’s face it.  The “butts in seats,” traditional model of corporate training is washed up.  It’s counterproductive for anything more than saying your people completed training.  Completion of training is a fancy way of saying, “We told them what to believe, and we spent a lot to do it.”  

Think about that statement.  Sounds ridiculous, right?  Well, it should, because it is!

What are the trends in learning and development?  Used to be that organizations could send their people to conferences and external training sessions once, twice, sometimes three times a year.  And while the expense of these trips was perhaps not outrageous, when you consider travel, lodging, and meals on top of the cost of the training session itself, costs add up quickly.

Fast forward to the past five years or so.  Development dollars are shrinking in most organizations (in some, leadership development has slowly increased, but for a much more limited portion of our organizations...true talent management has taken a back seat to strictly “hi-po” development).  At the same time, external training providers are charging more for their sessions.  It’s simple economics.  These providers are also feeling the financial pinch.  Their profit margins are shrinking with less participants, forcing them to raise their prices and to provide more generalized training to “reach the masses.”  The end result....fewer workers are being sent to training and those who are sent are receiving watered down, generic content.  The composite impact of training is plummeting.

What are some solutions to this debilitating trend?

  1. Moving from training to development - Traditional training is passe.  In contrast, development focuses on blending short and long-term organizational needs and the strengths and interests of the individual learner.  The intersection of these aspects is where true impactful learning can flourish.
  2. Scholar-practitioner development models - Historically, providers have been either those in academia or those solely camped in the business world.  Moving forward, development must be sought from providers with a foot in both worlds.  The blending of theoretical and empirically-based knowledge with sound application of research in the “real world” will keep organizations on the cutting edge of learning and development.
  3. Economically-responsible customization - Customized development need not be less economically feasible.  Development providers who blend technology, measurement, and customized content (specific to the emerging needs of clients) will provide value and ROI unsurpassed by “off-the-shelf” training products high on flash and low on substance.  And perhaps surprisingly, this blend can often be obtained at a lower overall cost than the “generic” training so smoothly marketed.

Want a competitive advantage in your industry?  Focus on moving from training your leaders and employees to developing  them.  Insist on learning solutions that draw from the latest empirical research and provide learners safe opportunities to apply these concepts in their own work environments.  And forever reject “solutions” that do not reflect the unique aspects of your organization that have made you successful.  Don’t settle for “ordinary,” instead seek out impactful learning and embrace “Staying Great!”

TAGS     Learning,  Customization,  Impact
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About the Author

Trevor Nagle is a Consultant with Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC). He posseses more than fifteen years of experience as an internal and external organizational development (OD) consultant. He has designed and implemented training and development and change management activities for public, private, and non-profit leaders and workforces. .. Read More »

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