I'm sure that I'm not the only workplace learning professional (WLP) who has had the occasion to "lose the faith" about the value of training at some point or another. Ironically many of my own professional experiences with training haven't been all that inspirational when you get right down to it - altho Anne Storer, Chris Vellieux and the Learning and Development crew at Adobe certainly showed me a very positive side of training when I worked there.
(And parenthetically....yes, I have to say I am -obviously not-so secretly - pleased to see Donna Morris, Adobe's SVP of HR, giving a big shoutout for Adobe in the May 09 issue of T&D. And yes, it was nice to see Shantanu Narayan, Adobe System's CEO, on the cover.)
Nevertheless. Despite recent good experiences, the phrase "going to training" has never filled me with much excitement. Generally I went to training when it was required, or when I really, really, really had to know something for work. And then I would only generally learn enough to get by, given the rate of change in some of what I was working with. Sad, but true. Not because I didn't want to learn...but because I had just enough time to get "good enough", and then would need to head back to work.
A recent conversation with Michelle Klatt from Design Media has completely reset my views on training. Michelle has worked in technology services sales for a number of years, and I value her opinions on what line-of-business executives think about. I asked her if she thought execs still believed in the power of training. She seemed surprised by my question. "Of COURSE they believe in training. Good performers won't perform well if they don't know what to do, or don't have the stamina to do what is needed. You would never try to run a 10K race without preparing for it, would you? Or do the AIDS Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles without some practice? Well, you would NEVER send your best sales team out to work with customers if they weren't ready for prime time!"
It was a great insight, one that has stayed with me for several weeks now. I really like the idea that training is what contenders do when they are preparing to go forth and compete to the best of his or her ability.That training is there when we are working to be our best.
Any one of us whose work supports more effective training - or education, or performance support - also needs to model that same pursuit of excellence that we expect from those in training, those that we purport to serve and support. Well, we do if we want to be contenders. My .02, anyway.