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 new economy.
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 definition.
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 of learning.
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 behind—not 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.” You?
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 youcan 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.
Readiness, then, 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 new job.
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?