Today and next Tuesday we are going to look at the two “fatal mistakes” corporate training departments and training vendors make. And, “fatal” is not an exaggeration when discussing the many otherwise technology-smart people who come up with exciting ideas but drown in their own ocean of misguided premises.

I cannot begin to enumerate the number of great concepts and brilliant adaptations of technology that I have seen fail. For example, someone discovers how to use state-of-the-art technology in new and exciting ways. Soon after, that initial excitement is quickly picked up by co-workers and friends.

“Isn’t this just the neatest thing ever!” “My idea is going to revolutionize training!” “Just wait ‘til they see this!”

With all this cheerleading reverberating everywhere — internally! — investments are made, time is expended, and the new product emerges. It seems that success is now only months away — because, of course, everyone who encounters this “latest and greatest” creation will want to buy it immediately!

But far, far too often success fades into the night — and the creations linger for awhile, burn up a lot of good-money-after-bad, and disappear.

Why ???

Because the more important questions were not asked –- and the more important answers were not found.

Within training departments, success or failure resides in the ability to understand, motivate, and adapt the learning initiatives to the workforce to-be-trained.

Who are these people? How do they best learn? What motivates them? Etc., etc.

To be successful, your training initiatives must fit inside the dominant learning culture of your intended audience. And, an enlightened management must tie promotions or pay increases to your training initiative.

The current example is E-Learning — “the latest and greatest” learning technology.

But if E-Learning is the “now” answer, why do more than 65% of learners never complete an E-Learning course?!?

Easy answer. Because most E-Learning courses are not designed with full motion video and optional word-for-word audio embedded within the content. Instead, far too often, those courses have been built around words, sentences and paragraphs. And that “wordy” E-Learning course, consequently, has been transformed into an “e-information” course — a course that is both boring and fails to accomplish the goal of enhanced skills acquisition. Plus, in the uninformed cases, the training was not attached to a “what’s in it for me” strategy (i.e., promotions, pay increases).

With training vendors, it’s even more pronounced. The number of well-intentioned training entrepreneurs who have shown me their revolutionary technology creations — and, then moved forward without fully understanding the wishes and limitations of their customers and prospects — is huge.

For example, I once knew an “education genius” who created, after seven years of most diligent labor, the slickest assessment tool for “learning style” I have ever seen. For the first time, trainers and educators would be able to adjust their teaching to the individual learning styles present within their student population. It was sound academics, sound technology, and addressed a very real problem. All who saw the prototype were impressed. At tradeshows people were enchanted with the product.

But, no one bought it! Why? Because, there was no pressing need for knowing the individual learning styles. There was no way to practically connect the results to an affordable prescription. Theoretically, everyone thought it was a revolutionary product but no one could figure out a practical use for it.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen — it’s the premises that ought to be thoroughly examined! The message is simple: “Thoroughly ‘know’ the needs and demographics of your learners or your customers before you decide to ‘walk the plank.’”

I’ll discuss the second “fatal mistake” on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com