Myopic Vision Limits Training Effectiveness

Once again, I find motivation flung upon me to grind out a new post based upon an awesome question asked this morning in one of my networking groups. The question, “Do we see a myopic view by training [L&D] limiting training’s impact?” And a second part, “What do we need to do to overcome it?” One response suggested it was not so much “myopic” as it was “funnel vision!” I heartily agree, and on either view [sorry…], if our vision does not peek through a more holistic lens to view the learning environment as a dynamic ecosystem, we will never progress beyond our current limits.

The profession of corporate training has been my field of choice for more than a few years, and I have watched the design, development, and delivery of training evolve, and the paradigm has shifted several times. I witnessed the head-long plunge into e-learning, and then a rapid retreat, though only partially, to a more blended approach. Budget restrictions have blossomed and have been the bane of many training organizations. In fact, that budget evolution hurled me right through the window of opportunity in the grips of an unexpected reduction in force. To this day, methinks my ultimate selection to participate in the RiF served a more important purpose – validation that the myopia really does exist.

I fear the L&D function…or Training…if you choose by another name, are locked into a paralysis of tradition. Tradition yields comfort and familiarity. Comfort and familiarity yield resistance to change…and in some cases even recognition that there could actually be a “change” that offers a viable alternative. There is no denying that some form of knowledge transfer is a requirement…no doubt about it, but the question I am so vocal about follows…and is outside of that field of vision, “Transfer to where?”

Unfortunately, the targets for successful knowledge transfer are the heads and hearts of those who consume the learning asset(s). That represents but one short “sprint” of a much longer race to competency. The “sprint” to which I refer is the basis for tradition, though not an unimportant contributor, yet by itself is not enough to sustain human performance in the downstream post-training work context. L&D, while not typically chartered, nor scoped, nor staffed with the right skill sets for effectively penetrating this post-training work environment, is being called to evolve the training paradigm. That evolution is demanding that learning be continuous, and to be continuous, it needs to satisfy learning moments of need that surface in the learning environment that includes the work context. I’ve written numerous blog posts over the last several years that address the “work context” as the “new classroom”.

This paradigm evolution often strikes fear in the hearts of traditionalists. Methinks part of that fear is a lack of comfort [and competency] [and methodology] that resides outside of the line of sight of the traditional “sprint” of transferring knowledge.

I truly believe that too much focus in L&D organizations is inwardly focused and applied toward building excellence in the end product and refining the processes of training. Adding the latest technology does not offer a fix; rather, it only makes the “sprint” quicker and more cost efficient. What it does NOT do is improve effectiveness in a sustainable way.

The myopia confronting L&D is not what is currently being accomplished so much as what they have not yet evolved to support and include as a rapidly growing area of responsibility – driving [enabling] business outcomes that render tangible business results and sustained capability. These outcomes happen not in the classroom, nor on-line, nor any exotic blend, but are manifested in the context of the workflow.

Being near-sighted, I can identify with clear vision of where I am at the moment, but clearly seeing a future destination, or even choosing the right path, I must see beyond my limited field of clear vision. With my new graduated lens, I can read clearly AND see Jupiter…when I can find that sweet spot focus angle. L&D needs a “new lens” too, and a “new angle” on embedded skills to affect an evolved vision. The first big step is there is a whole new downstream, post-training world that represents a dynamic learning ecosystem, and the majority of that new world lay outside their current field of vision. Another recent post, “Evolving Training Into the Perfect Hole”, drills much deeper into this evolved vision.

I welcome any discussion that this post may generate…pro or con.

Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker 
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning