Following up on this past Thursday’s blog, we’re now ready to address the second “killer” mistake. In many ways, the arguments are similar to the one’s we made last week — only this time the fatal mistake comes, initially, from a trusted employee or customer.

It often originates when an educator or a trainer listens to a respected colleague, who expresses some idea that — on the surface — has validity. Or, in the case of a vendor, an important customer proffers an idea that seems to make sense. And without sufficient cogitation, away they go!

It is important to remember that even the best intentioned and best informed people make huge mistakes in their lives. In fact, it is often the most knowledgeable individuals (those who even have your best interests in mind) who err in the sight of their own good ideas.

Because something seems to make sense doesn’t signal “go ahead full.” Because individuals you respect have a good idea, it doesn’t mean “run with the ball.”

The assumptions behind those good ideas must be thoroughly examined. A genuine need for those good ideas must be practically present. And, after you check all that out, you’d better also determine if the need is widespread enough to be educationally or commercially viable — and that there are no hidden limitations that the “good idea” did not recognize.

I’ll give you a personal example. Many years ago, when videotape was the only media training choice, our research indicated that there was a real need for “Maintenance Management” training. Many of our customers indicated both their need and their willingness to consider a purchase.

So we produced a six-part series.

What happened?!?

We sold two and took a financial bath.


The approving authorities in those interested facilities said, “NO!” — because of the very small numbers that needed the training. Lateral training methods were preferred because the cost/benefit analysis did not justify the expenditure in our more expensive videotapes.

Moving blindly ahead with a good idea — coming from anyone you might know or respect — is foolish, unless you’ve done your homework — and that should include a brutally honest assessment of the population or market that the good idea purports to serve.

Even your best friends — and your most respected customers — can unwittingly mislead you.

So, be wary of the well-intentioned colleague who tells you, “Our workforce needs E-Learning training in this new subject!” — or the brilliant programmer who exclaims, “No sweat, I can build that, easy!” — or, the customer who tells you, “If only you had it, I’d buy it.” Each of those individuals means well, but all they are offering you is a starting point for further objective research into the true needs and limitations. Just “because you can” doesn’t necessarily mean, “you should!”

There you have it! The two fatal mistakes that have destroyed more than their share of training initiatives and entrepreneurial companies.

More on Thursday – – –

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