The trouble with training …

“A recently-published report by the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) estimates that the Civil Service wastes hundreds of millions of pounds every year – some £275m in the last year alone – putting staff through training courses that “do not work”. Less than half of the staff questioned by the NAO felt the training they received in the past 12 months had helped them to do their job better.”

(Bob Little, Checkpoint eLearning, November 2011)

“Companies’ spending on training and development accounts for hundreds of billion pounds globally each year. But every year, according to successive empirical studies, only 5 to 20 per cent of what is learnt finds its way back into the workplace. While this failure to transfer and apply new learning in the workplace has long attracted academic interest, practitioners have been slow to change their ways. Despite the imperative that things cannot be managed without being measured, training has been getting off lightly. Surely a training industry that delivers less than 20 per cent cannot be fit for purpose?”

Accountability needed for workplace training, Robert Terry, FT, 12 December 2011

Why are these training initiatives seen as ineffective?  Probably not because they were poorly designed, but because they were the wrong solution for a performance problem.  Here are some more comments on the trouble with training …

1 – The trouble with training is … that it is a solution looking for a problem (Harold Jarche)

2 – The trouble with training is .. that it has very little impact on on-the-job performance  (Will Thalheimer, WIll at Work Learning)

3 – The trouble with training is .. that it is inefficient and ineffective since people forget most of what they have been taught very quickly  - as the the Ebbinghaus Forgetting curve shows … (Charles Jennings 8 reasons why you should focus on informal and social) .

4 – The trouble with training is .. that most formal learning is content-heavy and interaction-poor, and provides little opportunity for practice in context and for reflection. (Charles Jennings, 8 reasons why you should focus on informal and social)

5 – The trouble with training is …  there’s an inherent inertia in formal learning approaches. It takes time and effort to design, develop and deliver learning content. Speed-to-competence is often compromised.   (Charles Jennings 8 reasons why you should focus on informal and social)

6 – The trouble with training is .. that it it is often s a cost rather than a benefit.  (Charles Jennings, 8 reasons why you should focus on informal and social)

7 – The trouble with training is … that it can’t possibly be used as a way to provide everyone with everything they need to know in the organisation.

8 – The trouble with training/e-learning is … that too much is over-engineered. Everything is turned into a course format – with learning objectives, quizzes – even if this is not the most appropriate format. [Online courses must die]

9 – The trouble with training … is that it over-manages learning; it is often better simply to support learning

10 – The trouble with e-learning is … that adult learners are becoming increasingly frustrated at how they are being treated as idiots in how they are expected to use online courses. [Geeta Bose]

11 – The trouble with e-learning is … that Big Brother (aka LMS) tracks and monitors your every move, and only considers “course completion” as evidence of learning.

12 – The trouble with training is … that it means you are required to study a problem, rather than just solve it.

13 – The trouble with training is … that most people see it as something to be endured rather than enjoyed

14 – The trouble with training is .. that often people see a training day as a holiday or day off!

15 – The trouble with training is … that is often seen as a punishment for those who underperform (Bob Litlle, Checkpoint eLearningt)

16 – The trouble with training is … that it is often used to cover up poor systems, unclear procedures or poor management practices.  (Harold Jarche)

17 – The trouble with training is .. that it is something that happens in a separate place and/or time from working

18  - The trouble with training is … that you have to leave the workflow either to go to another place or to take time out of your working day (Conrad Gottfredson)

19  - The trouble with training is .. that it is not the way to support the real learning that takes place – continuously, informally and frequently socially – in the workflow.

20 – The trouble with training is … that training is not the same as learning.

Further reading