The Recipe for Success: Formal education leads to better results
When I began my studies at RU, it was with many years of experience working in the training and development field under my belt. I was a competent training manager—serving as the liaison between the SMEs and developers, offering input on both design and execution. But there was something missing—the foundational knowledge as to why things needed to be done a certain way, and the foundational blueprint to craft programs that would be likely to succeed. It was similar to my knowledge of cooking—it is something I love, but have little formal training in the fundamentals and the science behind it. This year, I’ve come full circle on both my vocation and my avocation—training, and cooking. In addition to spending a week this summer in Italy immersed in a cooking class, I’ve worked on consolidating almost five years of study into my training philosophy and trying to understand the nuances of both the art and science of effective learning. Both experiences have been a revelation.
In my portfolio paper, I connect training to cooking—equal parts science and creativity. To be successful, one needs to understand the rationale of why things are done a certain way, and the outcomes that are likely to result. High-quality ingredients, preparation time, and careful measurement give you better odds that the final product will be edible. In the T & D field, using a clear methodology (Dick & Carey, anyone?) increases your chances of creating a program that will change behavior and result in organizational improvements. What could be simpler?
As with cooking, there are variables and unknowns. The key components to successful training are similar: goal, resources, audience, staff (Factors Impacting Employee Training, here). For a meal or dish, sustenance or celebration? Ground beef or filet? Sophisticated diners or kids? Home cook or budding chef? The similarities with training are remarkable: Compliance or career development? Flashy e-learning, or PowerPoint®? Gen X or Gen Y? In-house employee recruited to deliver content, or professional trainer? With any endeavor, the best-laid plans often go awry…as when I was in Italy studying cooking and the wild boar ate the parsley growing in the garden and we had to improvise with other like seasonings.
Even with all the training in the world, the best T & D professionals are often faced with circumstances beyond their control. The instructor misses his flight, or turns out to be less competent than anticipated. The classroom is cold, or the lunch is inedible. The e-learning program goes over budget, and cuts need to be made. This is where improvisation becomes the difference between success and failure. If we have done our homework (established attainable and rational goals, researched the audience, invested the time and resources necessary) and have done our best to design and deliver a program that will result in a meaningful change in behavior, trainers should have Plan B in their back pocket to adjust and adapt. Just as when the boar eats the parsley, there are other ways to get to the same place. And the results, though not perfect, are often just as satisfying.
Why do you think it’s important for seasoned trainers to have formed education in adult learning & training?
How does knowledge of theory help trainers ensure that their programs are successful?