A short post, for an idea that is not really new in my (mind)world: Training is great. But it won’t give you the superpowers you were expecting…
Where do people get this idea from? Even in my close surrounding people believe training is the surest way to become someone else, and I see countless CVs that display a sometimes endless list of training courses like a proud badge of capacity. Like: Training transformed me into a superhero!
I don’t deny that training:
- Can bring critical new information and skills;
- Challenges your thinking about some theories and practices that you may not have been exposed to;
- (If done well) Puts you in concrete situations where you have to show and encourage new behaviours.
- … and probably a few more benefits…
But on the downside:
- How many training courses are actually designed around your context, your issues, your needs and opportunities?
- How many training courses pay attention to how you will apply the new information and skills in your work tomorrow, next week, next year?
- As a result, what is the likelihood that you apply new information and skills in your day-to-day work (unless you have the capacity/authority and discipline to enforce this? We already know how difficult it is to change.
- How likely is it that you change your behaviour as a result of training? Some psychological research argues it takes (a minimum of) 21 days to change a major behaviour. Well, how many 4-week (20 working days) training courses have you gone on?
- How likely are you to change that behaviour if you don’t have a practice of reflection about your ongoing work and naturally try to accommodate the new skills and information in your natural ecosystem and routines?
This is why in KM there is much more emphasis put on coaching, mentoring and communities of practice, on ‘learning on the job’ for continuous learning than on sheer training. And though that idea has been critiqued, if not criticised, I believe much more in the idea of 10000 hours of practice, and better still: 10000 hours of action learning.
So: training? Yes! But make sure it’s adapted to you, prepare yourself to putting the training insights into your context… and just don’t put all your eggs into the training basket…
I’m just sayin’…
And for whatever it’s worth, if you consider training, you might look at how to calculate return on investment. If anything, it just shows how complex it is to have training lead to value and impact.
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