Saturday, 25 October 2008

Education vs Training

In the past couple of weeks I have gone from watching the news eagerly each day to becoming quite nonchalent about the shrinking economy, the falling stock markets and the weakening currencies.

In the corporate arena I have noticed that each part of the company is having to work really hard to justify their existence. This is even more obvious about this time of the year when budgets for next year are being finalised.

If you work in L&D then you need to have your ducks lined up, your business case in hand and your sponsors well prepared.

You may find it helpful to read this article by Paul Kearns on the Training Zone site. Paul starts out by illustrating the difference between 'eduation' and 'training' and uses a really funny example of sex education.

"I'm happy for my teenage son (or daughter) to receive sex education but I don't want him (or her) having sex training!'

He discusses how sex education teachers might evaluate their work using the Kirkpatrick approach. Can you imagine the level 2 check - kids putting a condom on a banana..........and how about level 3 - the practical application...!!!

Of course being able to evaluate the ROI of any learning intervention requires you to focus on the practical application of the new skills, knowledge etc. If you can't show how it is having a postive impact on the business then it's a waste of time and money.

So remember the following items to make sure that your L&D voice is louder than everyone elses:
  • Always have crystal clear, measurable, organisational objectives right at the beginning of any training activity. Pick items that are in the language that the business understands - increased sales or reduced costs for example.
  • Despite being tempted to see all 'trainees' as homogeneous we should view everyone as a unique 'trainee'. It might sound bleeding obvious but not everyone is the same - you can't deliver training off the shelf and expect it to have the same impact on everyone.
  • There is little point running training programmes that are detached from all of the other extraneous factors that influence behaviour. You need to integrate it into the culture of your organisation and the way in which everyone works in the real world.
  • Some things will always happen by chance, or even by accident, but training should endeavour to make things happen by design.

Keeping focused on business impact should mean you get your fair share of the cake...

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