February 18, 2015

“Many business people think of training as something distracting or often a waste of time. And despite the fact that US business spends more than $60 billion a year in employee development (2013 Corporate Learning Factbook), many executives question its return on investment.

Well our research shows that one of the most important sources of competitive advantage is your entire corporate learning strategy. . . . “
(“How Corporate Learning Drives Competitive Advantage” by Josh Bersin, FORBES}

I would maintain that to accomplish Mr. Bersin’s aims, we must first get this nation to recognize the differences between the two dominant learning cultures that currently exist.

I am a big believer in the development of advanced reading skills for certain career paths and for certain professions.

I am also a big believer in multi-sensory based learning for the more-than-half of our population that does not assimilate reading material written beyond a 4th grade level.

We are sensory beings. The more of our senses that can be involved, the more completely and enjoyably we learn. Even better, the more of our senses which become involved with the learning experience, the greater our retention.

Nobody is trying to exclude the one-third of us who are comfortable in a reading-based learning environment. We’ll respond favorably to sensory-based media, too. But for the two-thirds in this nation who have no learning culture choice, multi-sensory training initiatives will be pivotal.

In order to make a difference with your training initiatives, you first have to solve the challenge of these two differing learning styles within your organization.

This may not be as difficult a task as one might initially think. For example, some jobs require advanced reading ability. If you know that skill to be required, then the networking technologies that place lots of words and graphics on the computer screen is an acceptable choice – as well as are books and manuals.

But, what about the vast number of jobs that do not require advanced reading skills for workplace success?

Are you going to throw the same books and reading-based media at those individuals?

If you do, you will be wasting the resources of your organization – for little learning will be the result – and, consequently, the necessary skills improvement will be minimal.

Most people are visual learners when it comes to skills acquisition. ‘Seeing’, ‘hearing’, and ‘doing’ – in combination – is still the best way. Stand-up instruction (with hands-on exercises); simulators, and multi-sensory media (with full motion video, animations and/or simulations, accompanied by optional word-for-word audio), are more effective choices for the large majority of people seeking to acquire, or improve, skills.

In short, you must address the learning style demographics of your trainees before you can even begin to regard your training as a corporate competitive advantage.

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)