cerebyte-twitterI was recently on a call with a client discussing their initiative to transform the business in response to rapid market changes. The client’s view was that “training” was the primary, well, only way to make the change. When I asked them what they meant by training they said that all training had to be five- to 10-minute online courses, primarily looking at PowerPoints and taking multiple choice tests and that, because of intense time pressures, they could offer only two such courses. This client needs to change people’s attitudes, develop their skills, redefine business models and processes, reorganize the structure, and change how and what they sell and service… in short, it’s a tall order. And they think they can achieve all of that within two five- to 10-minute online courses? What crazy world are they living in? While everyone wants instant transformation, I am sorry to say that there is no effective Twitter version of training or transformation. We often hear the desire to “twitterize” everything from organizations. It isn’t something unique to this one organization, rather a pervasive trend in many organizations. There was recently a report in the Wall Street Journal that described how American productivity is flat or declining. This articles attributes the decline in part to a diminished investment in people’s capabilities. The “Twitterization” of learning is almost certainly one of the causes for the decline. So, why is this happening? I believe there is one underlying cause: bad prior training, which kicks off a reinforcing destructive cycle. What has happened in most organizations is that people go to a training class or go online for training and it’s simply dismal. The training is poorly designed and delivered and to make matters worse, it doesn’t motivate or teach much of anything. Not surprisingly, the participants feel like it’s a waste of time, so they tell the training departments to make the courses shorter. Participants don’t tell the training departments to make the training better, because most people, including the training departments, don’t realize that it can be better. Consequently, the training department makes the training shorter, less meaningful and impactful, which means that people are even more dissatisfied and it becomes shorter still. This vicious cycle got to the point where one of our clients didn’t have a leadership development program for eight years because past training was perceived as a waste of precious time. Other clients were similar to the one I began with for this story. They reduce training to meaningless five- to 10- minute sessions, enforced by a compliance system. This seems to make sense to everyone because it aligns with many organization’s intense focus on short-term, transactional work, where everything is “do, do, do” and there isn’t any time to think. It’s working harder, not smarter. Good training is about working smarter, which takes time. Ultimately, the twitterization of learning and change is destructive for everyone and the organization. People don’t grow, the organization doesn’t improve its productivity and critical transformations fail. However, the underlying premises that caused this situation are that bad training is the norm. This notion just does NOT have to be true. Time and time again, we get initial pushback on our programs that people just won’t take the time to do the exercises and discussions, but they always do and say it’s a great experience. People invest the time because it’s so obviously meaningful, valuable and fun that they tend to want to do more. Advances in neuroscience tell us a lot about how to create learning experiences that people want to do and will invest time in doing. However, the myth of short attention spans is so entrenched that any program has to accommodate the perceptions to get initiated. We will soon introduce a new product that uses neuroscience as the basis for self-directed learning. Our product is based on creating short, intensely meaningful growth experiences. Because the system uses self-directed learning, people begin using the system thinking that they have finally found the nirvana of twitterized learning, but quickly discover the joys and benefits of sustained meaningful learning. Once they discover how great meaningful learning is, they invest more than the expected time and energy because they can visibly see themselves becoming great at a role. There is a choice for organizations here: You can buy into the myth of Twitterizing training and change or transition into something that creates meaningful development, but still doesn’t require much time or effort.]]>

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