Friday, July 28, 2006

Training: Dispensing the Useless Pill

I posted about David Maister earlier this week and he has a great followup in his blog because of the feedback he recieved about his article Why (Most) Training is Useless. His post Are You Dispencing Useless Pills? addresses much of the training professional's current frustrations. If you are in a corporation you dispense the pills because internal customers are your only customers, and if you are an independent consultant you need to keep food on the table.
David asks the ultimate question(s)...
"But how cynical can we allow ourselves to get? How much are we continuing to participate in things that we (ourselves) believe have no impact, that (in our own estimation) contribute no value and accomplish little?"
David even talks about "serving" the customer in his own podcasts. But he is also very clear that you only do what the customer wants AFTER effectively addressing the pros and cons of their choice vs. your alternative solutions. At the end of the day its all about the relationship you have with your customers anyway: if they trust you, they let you lead; if they don't, they tell you what they want. You must earn that trust, and that takes time and hard work.


Harold Jarche said...

I've learned a few things as a consultant. One is that the first rule of project management is to choose the right project.

I also follow a code of ethics which I share with my clients (it's based on the code of ethics for CPT's).

Base recommendations and actions on an objective needs assessment conducted in partnership with the client.

Define, justify empirically, and achieve useful results that can be aligned with both the client organisation’s mission, objectives, and positive contributions to society.

Focus on results and consequences of the results. Measure performance based on results, not on procedures performed for the client.

Set clear expectations about the process to be followed and about the expected outcomes.

Serve the client organization with integrity, competence, and objectivity.

Respect and contribute to the legitimate and ethical objectives of the client organisation.

Prevent problems from occurring rather than solve problems that could have been predicted and avoided.

* These help to set the agenda when discussing projects, especially ones that start with, "we've got a training problem". Not easy answers, but these kinds of guidelines may help to educate clients and trainers alike.

bschlenker said...

Absolutely, David! Thanks for the comment. Your comment reminds me of how cool the new web is: I can connect with Harvard professors without going to Harvard. How cool is that!
I do think this is a good topic (and I Harold has some great tips too), but what I have found consistently is that the training/learning specialist sees so much that is considered out of their realm of solutions. We have the opportunity to see the bigger picture, but because we are "the training" department any recommendations outside of training solutions are not taken seriously.
What do you think?