Oh, the shiny things! We are all attracted by the latest, flashiest (no pun intended) tool or technique that will cure all the issues with our death by PowerPoint event. This edition of Training Industry Magazine is intended to bring us back to a discussion of what’s most important when we are developing and deploying training to the organizations we serve. At Training Industry, we believe strongly in the notion that any training investment must impact business outcomes. However, this is much easier said than done.

It is my belief that we must focus on four key attributes of the program. Does it support a business goal? Is the content relevant, current and consumable? Is it delivered in the best way at the time of need? And do we have a sustainment strategy in place to ensure the new skill or obtained knowledge gets applied on the job? Pretty simple, but in many ways often difficult to execute upon.

Training Industry has recently been conducting research around the nature of training programs in the corporate context, looking at modality preferences by the learner to understand the optimal blend of on-the-job training (O), social learning (S), and formal training (F). While the research is telling us a lot about the relationship between the learning and the methods employed, my biggest takeaway from the research is that context for learning matters. What I mean by that is access to learning is becoming more of a given. There are almost too many opportunities for employees to find sources to help them close a skills gap or find knowledge to a question.

But, the context for learning based on job role differs across organizations and industries. What does context mean in this line of thinking? I see it as a combination of need (when do I need to know something or how to do something), environment (can I even learn where I am performing my job), nature of the role (am I even allowed to practice on the job, is it perhaps too risky), and what I know and how that differs from peers also doing the role. This challenge of understanding the context within which learning takes place will change the structure of the learning we design to support the team.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the point of views shared in the magazine and any topics you would like us to tackle in future editions.