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Is Your Training Program Like a Museum of Procrastination?

A smiling tour guide greets museum visitors: “Welcome to the Museum of Procrastination!”

People meander through stacks of gym memberships and unfinished novels and musical instruments that have only played one song.

Museum of Procrastination     Museum of Procrastination2

I squirmed a bit when I first saw this commercial. I watched it again and I squirmed a lot. As an L&D professional constantly on the lookout to be sure skills are transferred to the job, this hit a bit too close to home. How do we avoid having our learning efforts from producing artifacts and action plans that simply end up in this museum?

Over the past several years, these are some action steps I’ve taken to adjust the design of my training programs and better position them to “revolutionize the way we live our daily lives…”, borrowing a phrase from the tour guide in the commercial:

  1. Send course objectives in advance. This will help potential participants know whether your session will be a good fit for them. If they’re not required to attend and if your session objectives won’t solve a problem for them, they can self-select out leaving you with only participants who have intrinsic motivation to absorb your content and test it out on the job.
  2. Send pre-work or goal-setting worksheets. This can help potential participants envision how they’ll use your content while they’re still at their desks. If they can have a conversation with their supervisor and set goals for which they’ll need support and/or be held accountable following your presentation, even better!
  3. Create a product. Last week I worked with a group of medical professionals to not only educate them on what competency-based assessment is, but we also created an 80-point rubric they can use when they return to their eye care institutes. The week before I worked with a group of community outreach specialists to discuss adult learning principles and then we created 15-minute presentations they can deliver immediately. Giving people time to create something they can use back home, on the job, seems to be a very good return on their investment of time or money.
  4. Don’t bother. Of course, training isn’t always the answer. Not sure what this means? Check out Cathy Moore’s “Is training really the answer” flowchart.

What are some of the things you’ve done to ensure your content and concepts don’t end up like the L&D equivalent of a gym membership?

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