Re-engineering training

Reading the Wired “World in 2013” magazine, the opening article by inventor and businessman James Dyson got me thinking. He explains that real improvement (in this case, regarding “green innovations”) doesn’t come from obliging people to scrape the bottom of the usual barrel to save a few pennies. Real improvement comes from entirely rethinking our methods and tools to do things in ways that have not so far been done.


How can we apply this to training?

We hear a lot about how learning does not imply training (and how training does not even imply learning). We also hear about how social and informal learning is on the rise. But reading Dyson (with the assumption that training for the right reasons is still good) I’m wondering:

  • How do we currently deliver training?
  • Where have we been scraping the bottom of the usual barrel in vain attempts to get some improvement?
  • What are the main structural assumptions of how training is given and how can we re-engineer them?


My first thoughts…

  • Some of my clients try to add more people to training all the time or reduce costs by driving prices down.. barrel-scraping or actually trying to improve training ROI?
  • Most of the trainers I know pretty much do things in the same way, although some better than others and with varying degrees of interactivity, exercises, discussion etc…
  • There are definitely some kind of “rules” about what “good training” looks like and I suppose this view is quite consistent around the profession


Dyson gives the example of how we try to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging people to just do less of the same things they always do. His example is of how we ask people to use less plastic shopping bags. With all the effort we put into doing less of the same thing, we can save a little bit of cost or increase a little bit of efficiency. In the plastic bag example, if everyone reuses his bags, we can save the “bad emissions equivalent” of 300 flights from London to New York.

BUT if we reengineer other more important things and radically change the way we do them, we can have much more impact. Dyson gives several examples, including one from the world of aviation… check it out!


How can we re-engineer training to provide innovative change and major impact?

I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m going to be working on it on 2013. The first thing I will do is list all my assumptions about training and make an intellectual attempt to kill my sacred cows.

What follows is the beginning of the list of fundamental elements of my training sessions that are in principle open to reengineering:

  • The trainer is the one who comes with the majority of expertise (even if his style does not imply directly sharing this)
  • The trainer architects the learning solution, often without the participants
  • Training happens from 9 to 5 (more or less)
  • Participants are provided with training materials by the trainer
  • Group sizes are restricted based on some reasons
  • Within one group, all participants follow the same basic training contents and agenda
  • There tends to be 1 or 2 trainers for a “normal sized” group
  • Typical day plans include 4 sessions of +/- 90 to 100 minutes


What other assumptions are in play? How do you give your trainings? What seems to have always been done in the same way? What fundamental truths are open to re-engineering?

Please leave a comment and share your ideas. Maybe you already re-engineered the basics and have good ideas to share…?



Thanks for reading.
Follow me on Twitter.



About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in Learning Management and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: