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No More Train-the-Trainer....PLEASE!!!

No more train-the-trainer....please!!! What does this mean?  It means that based on industry experience this method of training is outdated, over-used, fails to deliver the necessary user adoption and is a lazy attempt to check the box on change management and training. 

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No more train-the-trainer....please!!! What does this mean?  It means that based on industry experience this method of training is outdated, over-used, fails to deliver the necessary user adoption and is a lazy attempt to check the box on change management and training. 

The train-the-trainer approach is used by those who view change management and training as unnecessary and of no value.  These people are only interested in installing a new technology and hoping and praying people will use it.  They will take a few system screen shots, drop them into a presentation deck, put a technical person in front of a room of so-called super users and spend a couple hours doing point and click walk-throughs of the screen shots. Then these super-users are supposed to do the same thing with the end-user communities across the globe.  Have you ever played the "telephone game"?  One person whispers into another person's ear, and that person whispers into a third person's ear and so on and so on. Then, the last person reveals what they heard and it was nothing like what the first person actual said.  That's the train-the-trainer approach with the same results.  This is a recipe for failure!  Still don't believe me?

Market research on successful and failed business transformation programs reveals that a lack of attention and focus on the people impacted by the change results in overall program failures:

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       ·         92% of transformation program failures are due to people, org and leadership shortfalls (Gartner)

·         7 of the top 9 problems experienced on major projects were people-related. (Infosys)

·         1500 businesses indicated only 30% of their transformational programs were successful (McKinsey)

So if not a train-the-trainer approach then what approach should you use?  I pondered this while sitting at the airport preparing to write this blog.  I found myself gazing out at the people in the terminal.  I began to wonder what professions they were in and how they were trained to do their jobs.  Take an airline pilot for example: Did he only sit in a classroom to learn to fly a plane or did he do other things like on-the-job-training and fly simulators, or work on what-if scenarios/games with other pilots?  As a frequent flier I can tell which model I would prefer my pilot using.  Which would you prefer your pilot use?  A train-the-trainer approach...I don't think so!!

Think about when you were didn't go to a training class to learn how to speak or eat.  You learned by example and the world was your classroom.  You were thrust into an everyday environment where you heard something, interacted with your family and friends, and eventually figured out what the word meant and when to use it via repetitive motions.  At first you would pronounce it strangely, but eventually with practice and feedback you would get it right. 

These examples support the reality that most people learn best by doing, not by sitting in a classroom and listening.  Remember, people retain only about 10% of what they hear, about 20-30% of what they see, about 30-40% of what they see and hear, and well over 50-70% when they are actively engaged in performing a task.  A train-the-trainer approach is based on people sitting in a classroom listening and watching a subject matter expert present.  Their engagement is on the lower end of this scale.  By incorporating other training techniques that provide real engagement opportunities for your learners you can drive up the potential for real knowledge retention.  Today's methods of training have evolved advancing with the new waves of technology and ways to train without sitting face-to-face.  These new evolutions in trainings allow us to create a more engaging training experience through blending different learning techniques.  Look at the learning method matrix below. 

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 In a train-the-trainer approach the assumption is that "one size fits all" this is simply not the case and more importantly people learn and retain more by doing and engaging all of their senses.  Using a blended learning approach ensures more engagement and retention.  Also these instructional design techniques and new learning technologies enable us to design newer, more sustainable training solutions that allow learners to learn when they want, how they want and as often as their schedule permits.  A blended solution offers the learner the opportunity to participate in a variety of training methods and is more engaging.

It is important in today's world of technological advances that we take advantage of the opportunity to empower individuals with the appropriate learning models, both formal and informal, so that they can learn effectively. 

Remember that airline pilot the next time you fly and think about how he learned to fly that plane.  Step outside the box when it comes to learning and remember - No More Train-the-Trainer....PLEASE!!!

What has been your experience with different types of training methods?  We would love to hear your stories. 



   - Michael Hendrix, Partner Organizational Transformation, Consulting & Systems Integration

   - Yolanda Sallie, Senior Consultant Organizational Transformation, Consulting & Systems Integration




Great POV. For user adoption & transformation to happen, Org Change Management, Stakeholder Communication and End-User Training are key to success and this blog brings out a very important point on what approach really works for training & ultimately adoption.

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