“Check Box” Training, or Is It “Check Box” L&D?

It’s Saturday morning, and am fully caffeinated…sitting on the deck and nursing on the business end of a fairly decent cigar. It’s odd moments like these that a craving to rip out a blog post gets flung upon me. Out of the blue a question landed on my brain and I thought was significant enough to help make the point I seem to endlessly make on my previous posts. Training alone does NOT drive performance, it only contributes to potential. I know, I know, those of you who keep coming back here to read my rambling may tire of this, but it is a mission to me…a mission to promote a performance paradigm over the limits of the traditions of a training paradigm. Hey…it’s what I do…

Check Box

Going back to the title of this post…I must confess to being guilty of both grinding out “Check Box” training as well as being in and leading “Check Box” L&D teams in my career. What is “Check Box” L&D? In my not so humble opinion it’s what we become if all we do…if all we produce as end product are training courses. That might sound ridiculous to some when we consider how that describes the scope and charter of the mission of L&D.

We “check the box” when we complete the workflow to assess, design, develop/produce, and deliver training courses. And then…we go back and do it again to respond to the next training request. Rinse and repeat. And with agile design and development methods now the rage, we are pumping out training faster than ever before.


It’s not enough.

Don’t misunderstand…training courses delivered within any venue are important…it’s just not enough if we are truly seeking to sustain workforce performance at Point-of-Work. It’s enough to “check the box” in the scope of completing the production of another course, but the role of L&D should extend beyond checking the box.

As redundant as this next statement sounds, it represents the core of my position on this…

Performance support supports performance @ Point-of-Work…not training courses!

While  it’s tradition to consider that effective training transfers knowledge, skills and abilities, I have become radicalized to believe that the only thing that really gets transferred is knowledge…and then for the amount of time heads and hearts can retain it. Skills? Maybe, but they are not evidenced until consistently demonstrated at Point-of-Work. Ability? Same deal…not proven until demonstrated consistently at Point-of-Work. My argument is this…

If our L&D business model is to build training solutions to effectively transfer knowledge with limited shelf life…and then step away to move to the next project…are we not just “checking the box”?

Methinks we have…or at least should have…a scope and charter that promotes sustained capability…that means enabling our performers to perform…consistently…and…at the Point-of-Work. And that charter should include the integration of performance support…in the training course we produce as well at accessible at Point-of-Work. That enhancement only comes with the adoption of a performance paradigm.

In our defense, we DO have to produce “Check Box” training to satisfy compliance requirements. Legal liabilities will always exist, and I, for one, will always need refreshed on how to wash my hands…and how to use a fire extinguisher…and how to ethically conduct myself…and never give out my password. Those kinds of courses we will be slave to for time eternal, and we will build “Check Box” training to keep Legal at bay. No argument there. But…when we need to support producing solutions to drive and sustain business results through effective performance at Point-of-Work, I think we have a greater responsibility than courseware, in all its forms and venues, cannot deliver.

Business demand is continuous. Change is continuous. We all proclaim that learning needs to be continuous. Those attributes defining our respective learning and performance ecosystems combine to produce a continuous demand for a responsive business relationship with our workforce and the solutions we build. Yeah, that includes some “Check Box” training we can’t avoid, but sustaining that responsive business relationship demands more from us.

Maybe I’ve missed it, but I cannot find a box to check on that kind of relationship.

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