Think Different and Deliver Training That Adds Value

Good Trainers Create Good Training

If you identify your work and job title as Instructional design(er), then you are a creative person. I would consider anyone doing corporate training work of any kind creative. Most corporate training professionals I have met throughout the years have a unique creative aspect to their personality. Not all. But most. With “designer” in the title how can we not feel like our work expresses our inner creativeness. The work we do in corporate training is a creative endeavor.

And yet, there is a real sense of industrial production, non-creative repetitiveness reflected in our industry conversations. We look for “rapid development” tools, pre-designed templates, and step-by-step processes or models to make our job easier. And that’s okay. But being a creative is hard work. And it’s not hard because being creative is hard. Being creative is not the hard part. The hard part is getting it done!

Listen to what Seth Godin has to say about it.

And if you prefer someone a little more hip, and edgy, then listen to Casey Neistat‘s take on it.

(His words of wisdom come at 3:45)

The Heavy Burden of Instructional Design

What if your job was to create AND DELIVER a training course every day? Could you do it? Probably not. And those aren’t fightin’ words. That’s just a fact. And it’s why training departments fail to deliver business value. Not that you need to deliver one course per day. But because you believe that training is one certain thing, you can’t see that other content can be useful even if it doesn’t fit the mold of legacy training models.

I learned this lesson in my first career as a broadcast news producer. Monday thru Friday at 5, 6, and 10 we delivered content. No excuses. The ancient video editing equipment would randomly die all too often. We could not cancel the broadcast. Did my car breakdown on the way back to the studio after getting the big story? Yes. Did they stop the broadcast until I got there? No. No matter what happened. We delivered. And sometimes what we delivered wasn’t exactly what our best work, or what we wanted to deliver. But we delivered. And yes, our news room was filled with creatives.

I’ve told this story many times over the last 20 years. And I’ve asked why a training department couldn’t function like a broadcast news department. Sadly, the idea has been met with rolling eyes, and my ever favorite quip, “but that’s just an information dump. It’s not training”. That may have mattered 20 years ago, but today that’s just an excuse to not deliver. Not because it can’t be done, but because you carry the heavy weight of legacy thinking on your shoulders.

Learning to Think Differently About Training

In 1997 Apple launched it’s Think Different campaign. And as Steve Jobs famously stated, “Real artists ship”. You may not consider yourself an artist, but that wasn’t really his point. His reminder to all creatives is how critical it is to deliver. What that means for corporate training is that a really mediocre course delivered now is 100 times better than your good course currently undelivered.

Have you ever taken the time to reflect on the work you are doing?

I’ve recently attempted to help people think different during event presentations. I’ve been a little disappointed by the responses from attendees just wanting me to tell them the answers. They loved the idea but didn’t want to do the work. I will explain the exercise here and look for your feedback.

First eliminate all training solution thoughts from your head. For this to work you must start with Shoshin, “beginner’s mind“. Consider that the ultimate learning experience is one on one. It’s just a subject matter expert and a learner. When both are physically in the same space there is no need for a middleman.

What would you do in the following situations:

  1. SME is in Africa and a learner is in Canada.
  2. SME is not available for any more 1:1 instruction.
  3. SME is still not available and there are hundreds of learners in the same location needing his knowledge.
  4. Change #3 to thousands instead of hundreds, and instead of local they are spread out across the globe.

This is a bonus question: It’s 8am Monday. Can you deliver business value from a training solution in all situations by 8am Tuesday?

If not, contact me @Litmos and I’ll tell you how.