Help! Not again!
I was finally ready to do the old thing and now, here’s the new
thing right on its heels.
Something we’ve all felt. Newness. It seems to be the driving
force in this new economy. And it requires more innovative approaches
to learning than "training," as an extension of our formal
education. Why? Because it’s no longer a question of "What
did you learn in school today?" but "Are you ready to
do it, use it, sell it, make it happen?"
Let’s face it. In
most corporations, we are lifelong survivors NOT lifelong learners.
Performance is what counts. Short term memory wins. Defining strategies
for enabling short-term memory is the future of learning in the
If you want a glimpse
of that future, download Microsoft’s new online book reader. Welcome
to hypertext, the book that does the work for you. Want a definition
of a word? Highlight the word and click the mouse. Want to add a
note? Click the mouse and type it. No need to take the time to find
a post-it or get the dictionary. Certainly no need to remember the
Who remembers anything
any more anyway? Who needs to really remember with all the "remembering"
tools at our disposal? And who has the time?
As lifelong survivors,
we turn on our brains and learn when we need to get ready to do
something. The rest of the time we get by with what we know. Learning
is becoming synonymous with ‘being ready fast." Ready for your
next assignment? Your new job? That next sales call with a new customer?
Or servicing that new widget? Readiness has become the true test
In the new knowledge
economy, readiness stands alongside competitiveness. Readiness equals
success. Imagine intersecting lines of latitude and longitude. Latitude
is you, working every day. Longitude is your intersection with the
new. The new seems to happen more frequently. You need to be ready
or you'll be left behindnot just you, but your whole company.
So if readiness is
the key to success, here’s the question: Does any form of training
(from elearning to instructor-led classes) help you get ready to
perform? I suspect you know the answer.
If training worked
so well, why aren’t we all performing like top guns? After taking
all that costly and time-consuming training, why aren’t we all ready
to sell that new and exciting product, or deliver that value-adding
service, install and use that cool new upgrade? Why aren’t we ready?
Here’s the reason.
Training is not focused on getting us ready to reach that exalted
"State of Readiness." Instead, training treats us as if
we were still in school. The difference is that instead of a test
and a grade, it’s our performance being graded. Instead of moving
from grade school to high school, it’s our promotion or pay increase
that’s at stake. In the corporate world, especially in the new knowledge
economy, it’s all about Readiness: being ready to do something,
not just learning about doing. I’ve never yet had anyone come into
my office and ask me to "go learn something just to learn it."
Here’s a bold assertion:
Training does not make us ready to do anything. Here’s an interesting
chart that explains why.
Training in the corporate
world, where doing is everything, can only take you at best
25% of the way towards readiness. Usually you’re lucky if you get
to the 5% mark. The other 75% or more is up to you.
Take the game of
golf. You can go to a seminar or read a book about the History
and Etiquette of Golf, watch a videotape of Great Golfing Moments,
attend an Introduction to Golf seminar and you can say you know
something about golf. But are you ready to play? You can then buy
and enjoy a great computer eGolf game, find a golf pro, take lessons,
learn to simulate the swing, practice putting, slice and dice balls
at the driving range all weekend, and think you can do it,
but are you ready to play golf?
From your first tee
shot on your first hole, it takes hours of adopting and adapting
what you know and can do, swinging all the clubs, in all sorts of
weather and conditions, failing and succeeding, practicing and more
practicing, before you are ready to really play golf.
is the state of being able to creatively adopt and adapt what you
know and can do under a varying set of circumstances. You may not
win the game, but at least you’re ready to play.
Can you say as much
for your players? Is training making them ready? Are they
getting the right support to help them get ready? Are they really
discovering what they will need to be able to do and know in order
to get ready? Are they at least getting that 25% of knowing and
doing? Do they have enough time to practice, to fail and succeed,
to adopt and adapt, and really get ready? Or do you expect them
to do it on the job, fail at the customer’s expense, and practice
on the customer’s dime?
The best example
I’ve seen of a program that helps people get ready was recently
created by a company called SkillScape. They created The Readiness
Assessment Program (RAP)™ to help customers implement software
upgrades. The RAP first helps you see how ready you are, then points
you towards the learning you need as part of your Individual Learning
Plan. After you cover your learning plan, you can assess yourself
again and see where you stand. It’s focused, it’s targeted, and
it’s designed to do one thing only: Get you ready for a specific
Readiness? That is
the question that no one seems to be asking. Content. Tools. Technology.
Methodology. If it doesn’t help me or my organization get ready
the next time something new crosses my path, then who cares?
is founder of The Readiness Company based in Monterey, California.
He recently completed a two-year term as creator and Worldwide Director
of PeopleSoft’s Workforce Performance Solutions. His book, Intersections
with the New: The Dilemma of Performance in the Knowledge Economy
is slated for completion this fall. He’s ready for any questions
you might have at email@example.com.
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