If there is a “better way” and people’s preconception or lack of knowledge blinds them …. does a better way matter?
I now believe there is a better way … if done well. I have come to this conclusion “kicking and screaming”. I was very skeptical/ignorant about videoconferencing in 2009 when most of our customers had their training budgets cut to the bone. In response, we began to use videoconferencing in a new way and the results have far exceeded my expectations. Looking back, the fact that most videoconferencing is (still) done poorly blocked me and others from seeing what could be done.
Some of you know that we started Change Masters Academy to provide online video for sharing what we have been teaching in the coaching room for more than a quarter century. Our customers asked me to pilot a new approach to this material and I was very skeptical. We tried it and it far exceeded my expectations (there is a learning pattern here.) Being the owner of a small company, I can take risks like this and recover easily if I’m unsuccessful. When I was part of large companies, I know it would have been close to impossible to get done. By repeatedly getting results and feedback that exceeded my expectations in this area, I am finally believing that there is a much better way … particularly for large companies if forward-thinking leaders will take the lead.
Disturbing article in the WSJ
In a WSJ article, there were some disturbing study results. How Companies Are Putting Managers in a Bind; Businesses Are Giving Bosses New Responsibilities but Not Training Them for Those Roles by Hermina Ibarra, found the most commonly used traditional support for learning was least effective. Most companies have very strained training budgets at a time when the critical need for training is higher than ever, and on an strong upward slope.
One-shot promotion training was of limited value. Ongoing training (mostly externally sourced) and cross-functional connections were highlighted as most effective in meeting the critical needs.
A great seminar or workshop has a very short half-life because we soon forget what we learned and what we remember is only implemented by a few. My personal recollection is that IBM training was a fire hose of information. The goal was to have you remember where to go when you need to find information in the future, and not to actually teach the material. That is a realistic expectation for most one-shot training experiences … even by the very best presenters.
Over 25+ years we have found Drip Learning™ is what makes material useful over the longer term. We use it in both our individual coaching sessions and our workshops. Regular, helpful, short chunks of interesting information are remembered and used. We have used audio “podcasts” since 2000 and are building a library of videos for Drip Learning as well.
If you are more skeptical, like me, you might say, “Most training videos are mediocre to bad.” I agree – particularly for middle to top level leaders. I can only tell you that some of our premier customers have told us that our videos are the only videos they have seen that are suitable to use with middle and higher level executives. In other words, do not disparage all video just because so much is not up to the needed standard.
MOOC’s were the big rage a couple of years ago. Thousand signed up for free college classes. The storyline was that it will be the future of education for all. Now that bubble has burst (as it should). It was not a well thought out approach. Like the bust of the Internet in 2001, there was more hot air than substance. With the burst, there was gloom and doom by those who missed the real opportunity. Much was learned and it will come back in a more concrete approach. Ten years from now I see an “Amazon of College Education” in some form … but I digress.
Three important facts about online learning that have been missing from the popular press:
- Video based online learning and outcomes (in most cases) that were equal to or better than being in class with the professor.
- Private skill building training organizations, such as Lynda.com, are growing dramatically and are very profitable.
- Most people taking online classes have college a degree already, so they just want to learn.
What leaders feel they need
What the WSJ article identified that leaders need as ongoing skill development are:
96% Collaboration across organizational units and functions
93% Inspiring and motivating others
90% Getting but-in/support for ideas
86% Providing strategic direction
85% Making decisions under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity
85% Influence without authority
There is a new way
In the popular book, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, much of the world upheaval we have and will continue to have is due to technology. Your call to a local company for reservations or service may well be answered by a person in India or Mexico. You local accountant may be doing the backroom calculation of your taxes offshore … and you’d never know it. Flat World Execution™ requires us to at least try new tools and approaches that are significantly different. It will allow us personally, and our businesses, to increase our competitiveness.
The good news is that in many cases these new approaches work for those willing to give them a try. Twenty years ago it would have been hard to believe that faxes would be obsolete; that most of our time would be spent on email as opposed to phone conversations (and voice mail exchanges); and that we would routinely conference with our teams on a global scale.
WSJ: How Companies Are Putting Managers in a Bind