Jay Cross has a fascinating take on corporate learning that is closely in tuned with where my thoughts have been going regarding the corporate learning world. Of course, Jay, being the master and I the poor grasshopper (apologies to Kung Fu fans everywhere), has distilled the essence of my thoughts much better than I could hope in an article titled Don't Call them Trainees in an article posted in the Dec. 2007 issue of Human Capital & Corporate Universities Newsletter. Money quote:
Instead of training, tell the worker what she needs to know how to accomplish the job. Offer a variety of ways to get up to speed, from treasure hunts to finding information on the company intranet. This makes the learner take responsibility. There's no longer an excuse for not learning.
He then proceeds to tell the story of Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic engineer who argues that the a big problem with motorists and the way they drive are the number of street signs telling them what to do. Monderman has discovered that if you remove street signs, especially speed limit signs, drivers take more responsibility for their actions. In communities in The Netherlands where Monderman practices his craft, traffic accidents are down 30% and the average motorist's speed has dropped to 50% of what it had been originally.
Monderman says that if you treat people like fools, they act like fools. Take off the training wheels; they drive like grownups.
Being told to take a training course is like driving on a road with signs, stripes, and bumps. If a worker takes a training course but doesn't learn, what's her reaction? "The training wasn't any good."
Given the way people drive here in the northeast, I'm a bit hesitant to do away with street signs right away, but I do think we are overly paternal/maternal in the way we approach providing the knowledge adults need to know to do their jobs.