I confess that today I’m having a bit of a professional crisis. Keystone Development is founded on the design of detailed, brain friendly, practical and complete training solutions. We’ve always felt that our job is to provide a seamless link between what is in the client’s head, and what actually get delivered in the training room regardless of who delivers that training, when or where.
To this end we provide detailed training materials. Not a script (I want to be clear about that!), but a session plan that gives the trainer clear direction about what they should be covering along with suggestions as to how they may do that. Our delegate materials can be referred to long after, and make sense outside of the training event itself. In essence we try to take away the risk: The risk of meanings getting lost between the briefing and the delivery, and the risk of meaning being lost between delivery and application.
However I have been increasingly made aware that many businesses and certainly many trainers don’t value this sort of service. Some businesses see this level of design as nothing more than a layer of extra cost whilst trainers and see it is downright interference, and even consider it insulting to be given a detailed session plan.
I’m trying to understand this point of view, but I’m finding it hard. Of course, for a small business where a one-off training session is all that is required, it may be sufficient for the client to brief the trainer directly and trust that the training delivered will meet all of their requirements. In these circumstances the critical path between idea and outcome is short and simple.
However in larger businesses, many people get involved with shaping the ideas. Many initiatives, principles and factors have to be taken into account as the training is shaped. It is often unclear who will actually be delivering the training three or six months down the line. It may be someone internal; it may be the designer; it may be an experienced trainer or someone who has been in the role the two weeks. Here the critical path between idea and outcomes is long and complicated. There are simply too many opportunities for things to drift and go wrong. For me it is madness to miss out the vital step of training design. Without it you are essentially playing a game of Chinese whispers and what gets delivered six months after the initial briefing will be far removed from the original idea. In addition what gets delivered by person A in location X may bear very little similarity to what is delivered by person B in location Y. Experienced trainers will of course be able to reduce the session plan from 16 pages to 6, and add their own style, ideas and flair, but the ‘skeleton’ of the training will be fixed.
So I still remain unconvinced that training design is an unnecessary luxury. If you value outcomes it can’t do anything other than add value. I suppose the question is not can you afford training design, but more can you afford not to invest in training design?