Having spent the better part of the last 15 years educating people from all over the world in topics like reliability, problem solving, software, and leadership, there is one thing that I have noticed. Many companies are buying a lot of expensive entertainment. Why? Ask yourself this simple question: Of the last three training sessions you attended, did you actually use what you learned to make a difference in the way your business performs? If you did not use what you learned then I can not see how that class was anything more than two... three.... or five days of entertainment.
How many Planner Schedulers have attended a class only to go back and function as a parts chaser and relief supervisor?
How many root cause analysis classes have been sold where the attendee never once performs and documents a root cause solution?
So here are three ways to help your organization create a return on your educational expenses.
Retention: To increase the amount of new knowledge your learner bring back to your facility make sure that the instructor is familiar with your process. Work to ensure the material is tailored for your processes, business situation and most importantly your audience. That off the shelf class may be part of your entertainment problem. If a person is attending software training don't send them through 5 days of training when they only need a day. This lead to a tuned out non-learner who will more than likely miss the parts that they need to know just out of sheer boredom. Take the time to map out the skills you need the person to have and the learning objectives associated with those skills. Then the training can be customized to only provide the points and topics they need to be successful. This will limit boredom and increase retention.
Application: Once a student has seen a new way to do something in the training environment they must apply the skills nearly immediately. This helps with the previous topic of retention but it also creates success and real world examples that can be used to continue the change process. We use project based learning where each student has a charter with goals and metrics that they drive by applying what they have learned and generating success and a return on our training effort. They also have a coach that works with them virtually to help with that tough transition from learner to practitioner.
Culture manipulation: As the student create success this will breed a desire to have more success. This is one way to help with cultural change. The second is to ensure the leadership both understand the goal of the training and what process and behaviors that the training should change. This allows them to ask the right questions of the student to propel the implementation forward. "What is important to my boss is important to me." We again use the learning project charter to facilitate the discussion with the manager and the student and their project coach who is helping them along the way. With a pull from leadership and the success of quick application you can begin to manipulate the culture into the the target state.
Here are my three ideas. What other things are you doing to make your education something more than entertainment.