Monday, October 14, 2013

Training is for Cats & Dogs; People Learn

By Al Norval

This is a great saying that I heard the other day. I wish I knew who said it first as I would give them credit for it. It struck a chord in me since I've been at a couple of problem solving sessions lately where the countermeasure to the problem is “More Training” or “Re-train the people”.

I’ve come to realize that training never addresses the root cause of the problem.

If the original training people received didn’t have them operating in a standard way, why would training them over again give any different results and solve the problem? Now if we changed the training process, then yes, we would expect different results and could run the new training process as an experiment to see if it did produce different results.

Why then do people keep coming to training as a countermeasure to the root cause of problems?

I believe it’s because they aren't at root cause and it’s a popular countermeasure that gives the illusion that we’re actually doing something. Never mind that what we’re doing won’t solve the problem.

When we train dogs and cats – we teach them what to do; tricks like – roll-over, put their paw up, fetch a ball and bark on command. When they do these well, our pets get rewarded with a biscuit and the behavior gets reinforced.

People on the other hand, have a basic need to learn and to understand the “why” behind the “what” to do. By learning why things must be done in a certain way, people increase their basic capability and understanding resulting in a much higher likelihood that the standard will be followed.

What’s the best way for people to learn the why? – it’s through being engaged in problem solving. Simple problem solving engages people in such a way that they learn.

The result is people who are performing tasks not by rote waiting for their behavior to be reinforced but because they have a deep understanding of the situation and why things must be done this way. People who then can use this deep understanding to drive faster improvements within an organization.

Training or learning - which organization would you prefer to be part of?


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