Applicability is the brick wall of formal training approaches. Not only do we first have to stop work to attend a training, but once the training is completed, the challenge is then to figure out how to apply what we learned to daily work. It is estimated that, on the average, applicability of a well-designed workshop using the best participatory methods (such as simulations, dialogue, problem-solving, etc.) is around ten percent.
Nevertheless, we apply new knowledge and skills from formal training, especially on managing teams or administration-related tasks such as finance or procurement, not directly related to our core technical skills.
Yet, many of us have fond memories of formal training – irrespective of whether or not we were able to apply any of our learning to our work. Despite difficulty in recalling both the content of formal training and how we were able to apply, we remain willfully optimistic about its relevance. In some cases, we even express satisfaction upon training for a skill we already have.
We recall days spent in training as enjoyable experiences, perhaps because they release stress related to task delivery, provide space for reflection, and facilitate new relationships and network formation. Most formal events may not be designed as social spaces, but contain them nonetheless. Implicitly, we are referring to benefits of formal training other than applicability to our work – those whose legitimacy may not be recognized by the organization.
Individual expectations around formal training are not necessarily around applicability, even though this is ostensibly its purpose and justification. Despite formal training’s intrinsic flaws, its social spaces give us room for specific kinds of continuous learning that is precious – and difficult to obtain in other ways.
Photo: Nails (Adam Rosenberg/flickr.com)