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Who really cares about corporate training?

May 29th, 2011 | Posted by admin in Learning

I got involved in a discussion about “training” in a forum of “Chief Learning Officers” over at LinkedIn.  The initial question was “How will training look 10 years from now”. Here are my thoughts:

Training and teaching are of interest to the “supplier”, learning is of interest to the “consumer”- assuming, of course, that what the consumer is after is knowledge. That’s not always, or even often, the case. Collecting certifications and credentials is a different sort of supplier/consumer relationship.

In the U.S., at least, we’ve always had the wrong person in the driver’s seat. Thinking about the supply side of this relationship (in a technological sense) ten years from now seems ultimately irrelevant, partly because the pertinent question is how will people be learning, but mostly because the uncertainty of that future doesn’t really inform any particular action today.

I agree that learners should lead the way, not follow the trainers. The question then is not “How should I train” but rather “How do I get things out of learners’ way”, which presumes I have some knowledge of how the best learners go about teaching themselves today.

In the business world the goal of training is largely a typically ineffective attempt at behavior modification. The trainers and the learners both have a vested interest in appearing to be successful, leadership is worried about more prosaic issues like the financial viability of their company, and thus their question is “Did our people learn anything?”, to which the answer always is “Yes”. The deeper questions of “what” and “how” are not deemed worthy of too much corporate investment.

But the fact is that people are alway learning, regardless of whether or not they’re being “trained”. More insidiously, what people learn often is not what those trainers thought they were teaching or what a company wants their people to “know”.

 

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