Two 20th century artists create a stark contrast to one another and provide a good analogy for how organizations address their training challenges.
Jackson Pollack was the inventor of abstract expressionism. The idea was that he let the moment, his emotions, and external forces like gravity dictate where the paint fell on the canvas. The results were images like this:
Piet Mondrian, on the other hand, developed the De Stijl style of painting. He boiled all objects down to their purest essence, the result of which was an organized depiction of the balance of natural forces. Like Pollock, his works, like this one, are instantly recognizable:
Many organizations take the Pollock approach to training. They have a need, so they create a course. Then, another need arises, and they react to that. After a while, they have a hodge-podge of courses, templates, and tools that maybe work together and maybe don’t.
The more effective organizations take the Mondrian approach. Before they begin, they carefully calculate their training needs. They think in advance about how all the pieces should work together and what is needed to give the training department a branded, professional image. In other words they create a training strategy.
A good training strategy should address more than just what courses will be offered and what topics should be included in each course. You know you have developed a good, holistic training strategy if it includes the following:
- Delivery method: Will the courses be taught in a classroom with an instructor, online with an instructor, self-paced, through mentoring or some combination of these?
- Curriculum: What courses will be taught to which audiences? What topics are included in each course? What are the learning goals of each course?
- Development process: Who will develop the courses? How many reviews will there be? What tools will the developers use? What templates will be used?
- Registration process: How will people learn what courses are available? How will they register for courses? When will registration occur? What type of database will be used to track enrollment and attendance? What reports will be needed?
- Evaluation: How will you know if the training is successful? What are the measurements of success? How will training be evaluated? How often will it happen? Who is responsible for evaluating effectiveness? To what depth will training be evaluated? What type of database will be used to track results? What reports will be needed?
- Ongoing support: How will learners be supported after training? Will there be an online performance support system? Will there be brown bag lunches? Will there be mentoring? What will be done to get managers to encourage the use of whatever was taught in the course?
- Maintenance: Who will be responsible for keeping the material current? How often will training materials be updated? Where will the training materials reside? Who will have access to what?
- Workplan: What is the timeframe for developing the courses? By when does training need to start and end? How many people are needed to hit these goals?
- Budget: How much will it cost to develop the training? How much will it cost to conduct training?
If you think about all these considerations right from the beginning, the cost, efficiency, and effectiveness of your entire training program will be enhanced and your training program will have the cool, efficient, balanced approach of a Mondrian