Have you been "trained" lately? Maybe you are a trainer? Seen a trainer? Sent people off to do training? Visited a "training centre? If any of these things apply: shame on you!! Training is the very last thing you, I, or we, need at this stage of our economic development.
Unless you work with lions in a cage, are a mime at a tourist site, aspire to be a professional dog-handler, or merely going out for a run, training is not for you. Training is for short-cycle, highly-repetitive, learnable skills that tend to be invariant in their application. You "train" someone to answer the phone, for example; or to fold a napkin. This is all about variance reduction; which is not to say that it is not important. We are all the beneficiaries of the Industrial Revolution; 200+ years of determined variance reduction. Not a bad track-record for "training", since much of what the Industrial Revolution was built upon were short-cycle, highly-repetitive tasks; think: assembly line work.
But, the world has changed. New ideas are the currency of the future, especially if you live in North America or Europe, where commodity manufacturing is dead (and with it the demand for highly repetitive tasks), and where high-wage knowledge industries depend more upon the quality of the ideas that you have, than upon your ability to reproduce the same behavior perfectly, and endlessly. Answering a phone, flawlessly, is no longer as valuable as creating unforeseen "apps" that change the very function of the phone.
New ideas require variance enlargement, and that means "education" rather than rote-training. Searching for conversational-narrowing "preferred solutions" is no longer as valuable as are generating conversational-enlarging "what-ifs?". This small definitional distinction changes everything else. You should be looking for "educators" rather than "trainers." Your development experiences should be at least as much about questions as they are about answers. The role of the people in the room should change from the traditional "training" model of "broadcaster to receiver" to a different model of "smart people facilitating smarter people." The rooms themselves, and everything in them, should change from "front-to-rear" (podium-centric) delivery (so reminiscent of our old school days), to becoming vibrant conversational spaces, where every good idea has a fair chance of being considered. This is no longer about cost-efficient training; it is now all about the choreography of the conversation.
Please, no more training!! I've had three wonderful canine companions in my life, and all of them resisted being trained -- part of the charm which made them so memorable. If we can't train our dogs, what makes you think that we should be able to "train" you?
This piece was originally posted in 2011, on my Disptaches from the Front Lines of Executive Education blog site, and I've always loved it. I think that it's as relevant today as it was when it first appeared .