Thursday, July 16, 2015

Training Has a Problem


I read the other day where the Classroom Desk has become passé.

It’s finally bit the bullet.


The best training experience I ever in my life had was in 1993 when Intel hired me as a manufacturing technician (MT). Hundreds of people were hired to work in Fab 11 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It was the stuff of myth. You see, the state of the art Pentium factory existed mainly as a dream on blueprint. It was over a year away from going online.

In my experience before Intel, training happened piece meal. It seemed an after thought. It was all about skills for jobs that existed now.

To gain the skills I needed Intel sent me to work at an existing fab in New Mexico for a couple of weeks. Then I went to a fab in Santa Clara for three months. It wasn’t just me. The many hundreds of other new hires were sent to Intel factories throughout the world. Yes, the world. It was as much about learning Intel’s culture as well as process, operations, and problem solving skills. Like I said, the stuff of myth: developing critical thinking workers.

Some of the training happened at desks. Most of the training involved movement, collaboration with others, and making things like reports and job-aids.


I started writing this post in response to reading “Is This a Training Problem?” by Dr. Patti Shank. She was sharing her thoughts about a process for improving human performance. The hook in her post that grabbed me was whe she said “Training is expensive."

After I read her post I skimmed the Six Boxes document she referenced. I think it’s missing something. In the Analysis section the Six Boxes author describes a process for gathering information about environment and individual as they relate to a performance problem or opportunity. It’s similar to the process I’d learned for developing training. That is, up until I learned about Design Thinking at an EdCamp in 2013.

The bit I added to my workflow is Design Thinking. I do the same things the Six Boxes describe. But I do it with the learners I’m supporting instead of to. I think it’s an important distinction. It’s like being at a carnival and watching the action from the perspective of a parent. I like to get on the ride with the learners.


Is training expensive? In the grand scheme of things the cost of training pales compared to the cost of not training. It’s more than the cost to the organization though. What about the cost to individual learners? Are they a piece of a workflow leading towards a solution to a training problem? Or are they a contributing member of the learning and development team?

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