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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Over Customizing Training

At ExeQserve, we've always taken pride in our ability to customize programs to meet the unique needs of our clients. It is an ability that I brought over from my experience as a freelance training consultant. As we continue to customize programs for our clients, I had to ask myself, where should we draw the line in customizing our programs? I'd like to share my answers with you in the hope that you may find some important lessons you can apply in your own practice as the one in charge of looking for trainers or as a training facilitator.

I have always said that I like demanding clients because they keep me on my toes and push me to be better. When I say demanding clients, I mean clients who like to know the nitty-gritty of the program before approving it. I like that. Where I now draw the line is when a client pushes for some activities that I do not feel comfortable with. I use to tell myself that I should be open minded enough to try and see things from my clients' point of view and try out some of the materials they insist for me to include in the program. There are times when this leads to undesirable result which led me to conclude that being open minded shouldn't mean trying out everything but being willing to consider everything and accept or reject them accordingly.

Some companies who are trying to save on training cost often request that a two or three-day workshop be compressed into a one-day program or sometimes a half-day course. While I fully understand the limitation of money allocated by companies for training, I am totally against compressing programs to fit the budget. Why, because compressed programs cost more in the end due to low return on investment. On many occasions, depth of learning is the first thing to go when programs are shortened. When time is limited some facilitators aim for appreciation of concept rather than facilitate real learning which is the application of skills. You might ask, how do I deal with this type of situation? I don't go for compressing, I go for reducing learning objectives to what is possible given the time frame. This means that if the client is aiming for the participants to learn Planning, Leading, Organizing and Controlling but can only spend a day for it, I'd ask them to choose which one or two topics are their priority so we can design a program that will allow application of learning. I feel that this is more cost effective vs cramming everything within a short time span.

Finally, my pet peeve is having a hodgepodge of in-cohesive learning objectives. Some training managers come out with training requirement as a result of a confused training needs analysis. Some think that this is hitting several birds with one stone but I disagree. I believe in having a learning theme that cohesively puts learning modules together. I believe in having a framework that learners can look at and see how learning goals are pieced together. I also believe that some framework or concepts should not be compromised for the sake of customization,. when that happens, that's when I say that customization has gone too far.

Training is an important investment. If done well, it could yield considerable returns for the company. Customizing the program to meet the unique needs of the learners is fine as long as it does not compromise the quality of the learning.

1 comment:

  1. Great post ED. You are truly educating people here.

    This morning, I told my training associate Carmen that I will start writing articles that will educate my future clients.

    A company requested for a training on business writing and presentation skills. They asked if it is possible to compress business writing into one day and presentation skills into one day also. Of course, I said it was possible if we will zero-in on the specific skills we can learn in one day. Business writing and presentation skills are best for workshops since these are skill-based subjects.

    This morning I learned that they got another training consultant. He promised to do business writing and presentation skills in one six hours. The company will surely save time.

    All they need is to listen. I think eventually, they'll forget his topic and his name.

    Training is never a one day or multi-day thing. It is a process. It does not have to be long, but it must be done on purpose.

    Thank you ED for your insightful blog entry.


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