Wednesday 5 March 2014

Shotgun Training (Part 1)

by John Ryan Shaw

I think most of us have heard of a shotgun wedding, but how many of you have heard of the shotgun approach to training?

No, it’s not when a manager marches their team to a training course at gunpoint. Shotgun training describes a training program where a diverse audience is placed into a room and they all are trained on every possible skill they may need on a topic. You can typically identify when a training program is taking a shotgun approach because the following basic questions have not been answered and written down:

· Which students need which specific skills?

· When do they need to use the specific skills?

· What skills do they already have?

· How are skill development costs prioritised against the business’s needs?

In my experience, the shotgun approach is the default approach to enterprise software implementation. The reasons are quite logical too:

· Software vendors need to develop training materials on all of the features and functions of their tools. They are typically neatly packaged courses that can be delivered by an experienced instructor with little to no preparation. They cover the broadest and most common set of customer needs.

· The Client’s business needs to move quickly, and project managers are under tight timelines and controlled budgets. The prospect of creating a customised training program brings up immediate images of expensive development and extended timelines.

Add these two factors together and the easiest answer is to pull the course off the shelf and train everyone. The vendor happily delivers their standard training and the client trusts that the vendor’s generic course has met their specific needs. Over the next couple of months some of the following happens:

· Some students are successful in using the tool shortly after the training event.

· Others are overwhelmed by the amount of information that was covered and go back to the old process.

· Others simply forget because they were trained too soon and do not need to use the tool for months.

· Others call the support desk and essentially get retrained on the phone.

· Others rely heavily on their peers to get retrained.

Does this sound familiar to you? It’s not doomsday, the programme has not failed, but it is a sub-optimal solution and project’s ROI has been reduced. We can do better and its starts with the 4 questions.

In the next post in this series we’ll focus on a simple tool you can use to answer the first two questions “Which Students Need What Skills” and “When do they need each skill”

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