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Crystal ball gazing: Looking into the training future


Annie Hayes quizzed training and development heavyweights Edward de Bono, Donald Kirkpatrick, Roger Schank, Adrian Moorhouse and Chuck Dymer for their predictions on what to expect this year.

Edward de Bono: The father of lateral thinking
Photo of Edward de Bono Photo credit: Mark Brumell:

"The need to think"

"At last there is a realisation that information is not enough. There is a real need for thinking, especially the creative thinking involved in looking at things in different ways and also the design thinking needed to turn problems into opportunities.

"Analysis and judgement are as important as ever but not enough. The rear left wheel of a car is excellent but not enough (note a new word 'ebne' meaning 'excellent but not enough'). Creative thinking is not a luxury but a real need in difficult times. This means serious creativity and not just messing around and hoping an idea will emerge. Just one tool of lateral thinking generated 21,000 new ideas for a workshop in South Africa, for example."

Donald Kirkpatrick: The father of evaluation
Photo of Donald Kirkpatrick

"Prepare for the day of reckoning"

"In one of my books on 'evaluation' I warned training departments that the 'day of reckoning' will come if it hasn't already done so. And that day will be when the jury - top management - will be asking for more and more evidence that the training budget is justified. This means that it (the jury) will no longer be satisfied with the number of training programmes, the number of participants, and even what those who attended had learned. It will be looking for evidence that the learners have returned to their jobs from training programs with practical ideas to implement to improve performance. Evidence that change in behaviour and positive results will be expected.

"So training departments who are not now evaluating Behaviour (Level three) and Results (Level four) better start doing it. In order to do it, they need to know how. The guidelines and suggestions in my books provide the basics for doing it. But even more valuable are the case studies that are included in each of the books that my son, Jim, and I have written. From them you can learn the concepts, techniques, forms and procedures that organisations have done to evaluate at all four levels. And you can 'borrow' them as written or modify them to fit your organisation.

"So, start now and begin or increase your efforts to evaluate at Levels three and four so you will be ready when the 'day of reckoning' comes. And don't look at the 'magic' answer of ROI to do it."

Roger Schank: Educational revolutionary and world authority on learning theory
Photo of Roger Schank

"Training students to do real jobs"

"Training is typically done by companies for their employees. Why is this the case? Simply put, the reason is that high schools and universities have simply failed to teach what needs to be taught. Under the misguided idea that education is somehow different (and more important) than training, schools have continued to promulgate a 19th Century model that says that training is for manual labour and education is for those who need to understand ideas. But, somewhere between manual labour and the realm of great ideas, is what people actually do every day.

"In the next year, we will begin to see universities change their tune. Their reasons may not include the recognition that the model they have been using for over 100 years has failed. But a ruined economy will demand trained workers, and college degrees will matter less than real abilities. Schools will begin to train students to do actual jobs, and they will do this online. The first two to step up to the plate to do this (that I know of) are ISIL in Lima, Peru and La Salle, in Barcelona, Spain. Others will follow. Real education, according to the second President of the United States, John Adams, "is about learning to live and learning to make a living" an idea that got lost between the late 1700s and today."

Adrian Moorhouse: Olympic gold medal winner 1988 and co-founder of Lane4, a leading international performance development consultancy
Photo of Adrian Moorhouse

"Maintaining the focus on training in 2009"

"Maintaining a focus on development when many businesses are thinking about survival will be the biggest challenge in the world of training next year. Taking lessons from organisations that have used difficult economic conditions as a chance to invigorate leaders and teams will be key. In the past, true recession survivors have continued to prioritise employee development when competitors were cutting training budgets. In that way, the opportunity to gain competitive advantage is better than ever.

"Crucially, training must be tailored so that it’s explicitly relevant to the current economic climate and designed to help people achieve in those conditions. Leadership development, including open and honest communication, will also be a priority so that managers have the right skills to lead teams in tough times. By doing this, organisations can begin to develop the resilience needed to survive, and even perform, in 2009 and beyond."

Chuck Dymer: The world's first master trainer for Edward de Bono's 'Six Thinking Hats'

Photo of Chuck Dymer

"Bucking the training trend in 2009"

"Due to the global financial crisis, 2009 will be a challenging year for organisations.
When pressed financially, many organisations cut back on training; they view training
as important but not necessary. But if there were ever a time to buck this trend, that
time is now.

"Downsizing staff, slashing all but essential expenditures and cutting back on services
to clients may be ways to 'make it through' a financial crisis but it certainly doesn’t do
much for staff morale or customer/client loyalty. Anyone who has flown on an airline
recently can testify to that. Training staff how to use creative thinking techniques for the betterment of the organisation and its clients could:

  • Help the organisation provide more value to its clients at reduced cost

  • Help differentiate between the organisation and competition

  • Enhance the self-confidence of staff members

"The financial crisis and business 'unusual' provide organisations with an excellent time to rethink what they do and how they do it. Creative thinking training are key to that necessary rethinking."

What do you think this year will hold for training, learning and development? Post your 2009 predictions below!


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