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August 13, 2013

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As a law firm employee who likes technology, I think incremental structured task-based training is they way to go, but that requires both expert trainers and an on-going committment from employers. Our firm implemented a complex docketing/docket managment system that has some document assembly functions. When purchased all employees and attorneys were hauled into the conference room over a couple of weeks for two hour long dog and pony shows about all the wonderful functions of this software. We were then sent back to our desks and expected to get work out. This attorney did not want this. Someone spent hours putting stuff in the system only to find that no one (including herself) ever looked at it. Someone tried that function and it didn't work--and by that time the company folks were miles away. Without taking time to enter data is one section of the program, another didn't function--and the old way of doing things was easier. In short, the firm ended up with a very expensive filing cabinet that didn't do much more than windows folders would do. If the programmer/IT department had sat down, figured out a logical sequence of training and brought folks in to teach them one fuctioin at a time, with instructions to go back to their desk and do it the new way and then been there to support any problems and correct any mistakes, the firm might have gotten its money's worth out of the program. As it is, I wonder

John,

As a former (high-school) teacher, and now someone who has been involved in adult education (specifically teaching adult users how to learn and then effectively use "office" and now practice management software) for 30 years, I have many, many times used the "I want to teach you how to fish" approach. But, I have many times had the client come back to me with - "But I just want the fish!" which is a sign that they don't see the value in learning how to understand the program. The immediate need to be able to "use" the program - as opposed to taking the time to learn the program (so that they can more fully use it without instructor-led time/cost later) overrides any concerns about cost and efficiency.

One of the key issues with the value of training (and why so many firms just want the "button" to do their work) is that it is hard to get firms to put a value on the efficiency that training offers. Time and time again I've been called into firms that ask "Why does it take so long? or "Can we do this? in this product?" Many times I've left after answering questions that would have (should have) been covered in basic training that the firm doesn't think is important enough to spend money on scheduling. When I leave those sessions I always prompt the client to start saving up questions for future training sessions. The firms that get it call me back...

The firms that don't get it, get a call from the KIA's of the world.

This issue identifies the key issue with all business-based education - the firms that can objectively identify the value of good training uses on-going training effectively. The firms that cannot are the ones that call when they become so ineffective that they finally realize they are wasting time (and money!) And trying to get the latter firms to put a value on proactive training is one of the most difficult tasks trainers/consultants ever do.

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