Twelve years ago I Co-authored an article for Training Industry Inc. titled “The Training Value Gap.” My thesis was: The incremental delivery of small nuggets of learning adds more value to an organization than the one time delivery of large training programs. I believed that consistently providinglearners with small (sometimes incomplete) knowledge nuggets would cause learners to more quickly gain new skills. The quicker acquisition of those skills would cause incremental and consistent performance improvements that would help the organization reap the benefits much earlier than if the organizations waited and delivered one large training program.
“The incremental delivery of small nuggets of learning adds more value to an organization than the one time delivery of large training programs.”
When Bobbi Edwardsand I wrote that article back in 2007, we had never heard of Agile. We had our own theory regarding the design of learning solutions, but we didn’t have a method to support it. Over the years we attempted to accomplish this fresh approach to training design and development using a variety of waterfall development approaches, including ADDIE and Six Sigma. It wasn’t until we transitioned to Agile that we truly had an iterative, incremental training development technique that allowed us to develop and deploy small incremental learning content in a sustained and proactive manner.
“Agile not only provides software developers with a technique that supports incremental releases, it also accommodates for the quick and nimble change of the high-tech world in which we live.”
For those not familiar with Agile and how this approach to product development has changed our everyday lives, consider how you receive updates to your smartphone apps or your personal computer software. Chances are you frequently receive small functionality updates to these applications. Right? This is in stark contrast to the mindset of just a few years ago when software applications underwent major rewrites every eighteen to twenty-four months. Delivering incremental software fixes and functionality allows customers to receive value faster and more frequently.
Consider the impact to today’s customers if they had to wait two years to get the latest twitter app because the phone manufacturer would not release that update until the Facebook interface was complete? Agile not only provides software developers with a technique 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 a new manager (who needs to developleadership skills) the opportunity to learn how to deliver performance reviews even if the component of the curriculum that teaches how to navigate the company’s culture is incomplete. The implications are: the new manager (and his or her company) can immediately enjoy the benefits of one component of the training even though the entire program is incomplete. This allows the company to realize incremental improvements that reduce the training value gap. When training organizations develop content the Agile way, companies and trainees both realize the benefit of learning solutions sooner, not later.
If you want to close the training value gap, I encourage you to use Agile.