Rethinking the Process of Training

Tom GibbonsLearningLeave a Comment

Every one of us has sat in a training session at some point in time, our minds wandering away from the content being delivered, wishing we could truly wander away and be someplace else.  As your mind wandered, did you ever wonder why, of all the living things on earth, humans are the only ones to have created the experience of learning and development that cause your mind to drift away to more stimulating places?

Learning is nothing more than becoming aware of something new or different.  Defined in this way, learning, on its own, is of marginal value.  It is the transition of learning to behavior that adds meaning and value and produces development that can affect our environments. 

This transition can be illustrated using the circular process of four primary phases outlined below.





Let’s pose and ponder some questions around each of these steps that hopefully will first cause us to pause, and in the space of that pause begin to rethink the process of training that we have become so accustomed to.

Awareness – Awareness is the first phase of the above model.  Can training of any type produce anything more than awareness?  In our training designs are we constrained in our thinking that the primary way to create awareness is to teach content?

Accountability – Accountability is the assignment of ownership for acting on new awareness.  In our training initiatives do we assume that organizational systems – such as performance management – actually support learning or is it left to individual accountability?  Can awareness – thus learning be initiated solely by changes in accountability without the need for formalized training events?

Choice – Delivering on accountabilities depends on individual choice to act or not to act.  In our training initiatives, what assumptions do we make regarding when or how the individual participant makes choices to deliver on these accountabilities? Do we consider our choices in how we design and deliver training in light of new awareness we have attained? 

Behavior – Awareness is actualized through behavior and behavior changes awareness. Do we believe that training should produce common standards of behavior?  Do our training designs have space for experimenting with changes in behavior that may result in outcomes different than the initial training intent? 

Pondering these questions in a serious way can begin to eat away at the very hard and sometimes petrified notions of how learning and its actualization occurs.  In the absence of solid and right answers to these questions we can easily just forget about the questions and continue delivering our day long content laden training sessions that people drift away in. 

Hanging in there with these types of questions is uncomfortable but may create new awareness and new perspectives needed to drag training out of its current state of ineffectiveness.

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