March 25, 2014

Today and Wednesday we’re 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. It’s all too common for someone to think they have discovered how to use state-of-the-art technology in new and exciting ways. Then, like lemmings, that excitement is picked up by co-workers and friends.

“Isn’t this just the neatest thing ever!” “What learning challenges can be successfully addressed with my new idea!” “Just wait ‘til they see this!”

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

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


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 learning initiatives to the needs of the workforce.

Who makes up this workforce? How do they best learn? What motivates them?

To answer those questions, foremost in your thinking must be two overriding thoughts. Most importantly —-your training initiatives, if successful, must fit inside the dominant learning culture of your workforce. Plus, to successfully motivate your workforce, management must tie promotions or pay increases to the training initiative.

One current example can be found in e-Learning as it is, too often, currently practiced.

Question: Why do more than 65% of learners never complete an e-Learning course?

Answer: Because it was not designed around multiple-media (full motion video and animations accompanied by optional word-for-word audio) —- but, rather, was built around words, sentences and paragraphs in spite of the fact that today’s learners are most comfortable using television, tablets and smart phones as their primary information tools.

And on the motivation side of the equation, the training was, many times, unattached to a “what’s in it for me” strategy (i.e., promotions, pay increases).

Yes, “good ideas” are never in short supply — when it’s actually the premises that ought to be thoroughly questioned and examined!

We’ll look at the second big “training mistake” on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning