In October 2007, I co-authored an article for Training Industry Inc. titled, “The Training Value Gap.”

My thesis included:

— delivering small nuggets of learning incrementally rather than waiting until the entire learning program was complete

— allowing learners to quickly absorb at least some of the required knowledge and skills

— rapidly translate those skills into incremental performance improvements.

This, in turn, helps the organization reap the benefits of its employees’ improved knowledge and skill-sets much earlier than if it would have delayed training.

I had never heard of agile at that time.

Even though we had our own theory regarding a new approach to designing learning solutions, we didn’t have a methodology to support it. Over the years, my teams had attempted to accomplish this fresh approach to learning solutions through a variety of waterfall development approaches, including Six Sigma.

It wasn’t until the organizations that I managed began using agile that we realized, “what if we leveraged this iterative, incremental approach to learning program design, development, and deployment—all in a sustained, proactive manner?”

For those not familiar with agile and how this approach to product development has changed our everyday lives, consider how you currently receive updates to your smartphone apps or your personal computer software.

Chances are you frequently receive small functionality updates to these applications, right? It’s a stark contrast to the mindset of just a few years ago when software applications underwent major rewrites every 18 to 24 months. Delivering incremental software fixes, and functionality now allows customers to receive value faster and more frequently (as opposed to waiting up to two years for all of the desired functionalities to be built into a new release).

Consider the impact to today’s customers if they had to wait two years to tweet the contents of a web page simply because the company that built the browser had delayed updates until they could also build a code that allowed users to post to Facebook and Google+. Agile not only provides software developers with a methodology that supports incremental releases, it also accommodates for the quick and nimble change of the high-tech world in which we live. As a result, we all glean the benefits of frequent fixes and increased functionality.

Applying this analogy to training allows the new manager, who needs to quickly develop leadership skills, the ability to master the skill of chairing a meeting even if the component of the curriculum that teaches how to navigate the company’s culture hasn’t yet been built.

The implications include, this new manager (and his or her company) can immediately benefit from one component of the training even though the entire learning program isn’t finished. This allows the company to receive incremental value from the training, therefore, reducing the training value gap. When training content is developed and delivered the agile way, companies and trainees can both realize the benefit of learning solutions sooner, not later.

So, if you want to close the training value gap, I encourage you to use agile.