What happens when we stop talking face-to-face? Nothing and everything.
This has been my theme since I wrote a science fiction novel on the subject. When society gets lazy and decides the tough questions about running the world are best answered by a machine–an evolving artificial intelligence, a computer server I call “Makr,” the world is in a lot of deep do-do. No one communicates unless they are approved by a totally objective process that has everyone’s welfare to think of. Well, there are exceptions like the people who don’t have the direct line to contributing to the Perfect Society. Individuals, maybe not team players, have too much influence, and that can affect the way you run your life, which can in turn affect the way others run theirs, and so on.
You see my point: we are influenced by others we come into contact directly. What happens when we don’t allow that influence, and turn the process over to an automated-give-you-the-perfect answer every time. The perfect training solution. Or, is it?
What has this to do with training? Everything and nothing. Everything because training is about transferring information and skills to others. The best way to do it is via face-to-face. Not many would argue that; although much can be said for the variety of interactive methods deployed these days and in the future will be able to still convey the same information. With the same power? The same success rate? We’ll see, I guess.
People need interaction into their real lives beyond the training. You could automate the “what’s in it for me” I suppose, but would it be enough? What about that nagging question you won’t ask because you have to write it down, key it in, push a button? People are funny. They are willing to click to listen to a blog more so than just read it. They will click a video that may be further from their actual question because they are attracted to both the visual and audio stimuli, but they still can’t ask a question. So they stagnate. They stop learning unless they are a technology nut and must keep pushing buttons, clicking on links, and surf.
A person can say, “I know what you’re thinking,” elicit a smile and provide a question you may not have thought of and answer it as well. Now, is that so hard? No, but it costs more in the long run to hire trainers than to build an interactive computer system or use impersonal webinars, or even more primitive conference calls, but at least those are people talking to people.
What happens in my novel? What you would expect. The world rises up to destroy the machines so society can once more think for themselves and teach each other once. The reality is better. Not always perfect, but better. But wait! We started with “perfect.” What happened? The same thing that happens to training programs that stop face-to-face training. The program and managers depend on the “perfect” system to deliver the results and wonder why it doesn’t “in the long run.” Now, when you need a program that works, you have to start over. Not very cost effective, is it?
Thought I’d play a bit and hopefully, stimulate some thinking. As for my novel, I’m not plugging it yet. Obviously there are twists and turns in it, which make it more complicated than I have presented here.
Pretty much like training. We shouldn’t seek the one and only best training solution. Nothing is perfect. A trainer in front of an audience is always better than a machine. Maybe always is too strong. It depends. It always depends.
Remember, shutting down programs completely means you don’t need them anymore. Just one person thinking about the way training can improve what we do is worth it. That person is invaluable when you start the program up–and you will–unless you want to stay the size you are and maximized your output.
The best way to train others is to not seek the perfect training solution, but rather to keep people in the mix. Unless you bring in robots…but they need programming and maintaining. Another novel, perhaps. Before you go off thinking, one last offering: robots are efficient and will do as you tell them, but they do not have a mind of their own. That might be a good thing to some managers, but innovative thinking is what humans do best. Why not keep it flowing?
Keep thinking, trainers. Keep the training solutions coming.
Sometimes we just have to smile, and say with “The Terminator‘s” accent, “I’ll be back.”
These are my words and opinions. Please feel free to disagree and comment, or contact me. If you’re interested in more of my points of view–my Cave Man way of looking at things, I have a website where you can find other items I have written. For more information on my peculiar take on training, check out my best selling The Cave Man Guide To Training and Development, and for a look at a world that truly needs a reality check, see my novel about the near future, Harry’s Reality! Meanwhile, Happy Training.
For more resources about training, see the Training library.