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Seb Anthony

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How far have we come?


I'm interested on the community's thoughts.

I'm concerned that little new or innovative is being created in certain areas of our profession's arena, and some training (in some sectors) is little more than 4 or 5 basic ingredients with a little added, a little taken away, folded differently, and then served up as something different.

Management development is an area that I feel this is rife, along with basic customer skills training.

Andrew Jacobs

4 Responses

  1. It depends
    It depends on the culture of the organization and the nature of the trainers. We’ve all met trainers who continue to churn out the same old stuff in the same old way. There are courses being run today which don’t differ much from an equivalent from 30 years ago! But there are other places where new research is constantly being brought in, delivered in new ways, using new technologies etc.

  2. what new?
    The answer to your question – how far have we come has many answers:
    1) Many of us have been in the HRD field for many years and generally speaking what is around now was around 10-20+ years ago. Yes its changed slightly but then we are dealing with people and people do not change (well intrinsically anyway) that much – i.e. psychological theory either works or it does not.

    2) Perhaps there is such a churn in the majority of HRD people a younger & younger profession with less training and background that the older people write books on whet they dis – change the name so they can publish without fear of litigation and there you are the new thingy wotsit.

    What has realistically changed is the requirements for speed and the blend of solutions – our managers and clients want it faster, cheaper and now. This means that there is not enough time for creative or innovative thought.

    One of the leading topics at the moment is innovation – interestingly one of the fastest growing ‘new areas’ and one of the few books on this topic that addressed the behavioural elements of innovation rather than the technology is based on a theory from the late 1960’s! (The Innovation Equation by Byrd)

    Yes things come and go in favour and the balance in which they are applied. I for instance was on a coaching programme ober the weekend and we were told about Transactional Analysis – now this was big in the late 70’s & early 80’s – so what goes around comes around. Its all about fashion. Many of us also like to read the ‘new’ book about abc – when in fact it is a ripoff from an origional publication some 15-20 years ago!

    A good example of this is the growing number of coaching books on the GROW model. Many lift the idea and loosly base their examples on the origional whitmore book – “performance coaching” – the fact that this book has stayed in print and is now on its 3rd edition means that people still see it as current – but I for one prefer much of the origional edition and the examples given.

    The very best trainers & developers keep their mind open and integrate the best of yesterday with proven current thinking. Its about seeking to learn new ‘stuff’ every day, and not just throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    An an engineer I used to enjoy reading the books from when technology was really new – as the books explained things from first principles – most modurn management books ignore the basics and strive to look sexy – do you want to use the contents or wear it?

    (but then just having the new toy is fun too!)

  3. Incrementalism
    I tend to agree that new ideas or breakthrough concepts seem fewer on the ground. Going back to the 80’s, 90’s I seem to remember new concepts appeared but when I delve deeper they just happened to be new to me at that time. So maybe there is a lot of new stuff for new people out there. New/innovative is relative .

    However, I think the mechanisms by which training is delivered have and will change primarily because of technology. The availability of new technology does require a rethink on the instructional design techniques to be used which don’t necesarily involve a human being. Think how easily we use the ATM outside the bank rather than interface with the bank clerk inside. Different experiences offering different levels of satisfaction but both have their place.

  4. Tweaks
    Let’s be fair here – mankind invented the wheel over 4000 years ago, and to be sure it’s been tweaked along the way but it’s still recognisably a wheel and it still does the same job very effectively.

    And that’s the point, some areas have been done to death – communication skills (yawn!), every company tries to train this and there are only so many ways to address active listening, questioning techniques etc. and the truth of the matter? I’m not sure you can train a lot of the things we attempt to train, without the proper attitude from the participants.

    So the real skill in our profession is no longer the material we deliver in many areas (the wheel is fine) but how we deliver it, how we get buy in and achieve a desire in our trainees to actually start doing things – that in a lot of cases, they already know how to do – they just don’t care enough.

    “Excellent Customer Service” – is a function of attitude, pure and simple – if you want to achieve great things for a customer you will and if you don’t then all the training in the world can’t help you.

    “Inspirational Leadership” – ever noticed that truly great leaders are often loners willing to swim against the tide of accepted wisdon? It’s attitude not skill.

    And so on. It takes courage to be the best, it takes determination, will power and none of these things can be trained, you can develop them for yourself but no-one can give them to you.

    So many areas of training have been trained to death, there’s nothing wrong with the wheel, but unless you apply some force to it – it won’t turn by itself.

    So I agree it’s rife, I’m just not sure that messing with the recipe in this case is the answer. A new approach is needed with a much stronger focus on succesful training delivery – which is much neglected in “train the trainer” environments. Plenty of focus on TNA and design, if you’re luck some good focus on evaluation but delivery after watching yourself on video and then being told what you’re doing wrong by someone who never seems that fit to make the judgement call, there’s pretty much nothing else.

    I’m not convinced that the environment, adding drama and humour are the key either. But I have honestly no idea what is, but some trainer’s have it in spades and many don’t. When you can isolate effectively that element of our behaviour and help instill it in those of is who don’t have it – then you’ll have a brand new recipe that really packs a punch.


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