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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If Possible...Let's Eliminate Training

It doesn’t always make sense to teach or educate people. Sometimes it is better to automate the process and eliminate the need for training.

Training is time consuming, expensive and not always effective. As an example, many software and/or hardware training programs, classes and manuals are necessary because the designers of the software or hardware did not take the time to think through how those using the product would be interfacing with it. This is one of the reasons Apple has been so successful...they think through their designs...where something like the earlier so called smartphones...not so much.

Look at what is happening in airports, supermarkets, hotels and convenience stores, you will notice a shift toward customer-automation interfaces. At the airport, a kiosk is used for you to check into your flight, check your baggage and receive a claim ticket and boarding pass. The entire process of checking in at the airport is now done by the customer. The kiosk is so easy to use that you don’t require any training; you just follow the instructions on the screen. An expensive the need for expensive check-in personnel is reduced.

At the supermarket, you can check yourself out after you have gathered all of your groceries. No need to train someone on how to use the cash register, the customer is learning how to do it themselves…in half the time. At many convenience stores, you can order your own sandwich at a kiosk and the clerk behind the counter gets an automated printout of the order. No need for training on how to take an order or how to ensure accuracy.

What are we doing in the learning field to automate our processes?  Are we busy trying to teach someone how to do a complicated process? Or are we trying to simplify the process? Are we involved in the design to build the learning right into the hardware or software or are we just cleaning up after the mess made by research and development on a cool new technology that few people can intuitively understand?

Think about what can be done to automate the simple, error prone processes that require a high level of training? What can be done to automate complex processes that require intensive training? Too many times organizations spend time and money conducting training or providing e-learning events because the system is not “smart” enough to handle mundane, repetitive, non-value-added tasks. Look at your organization’s processes and identify opportunities to replace training with automation. It is being done all around you.


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Joe Mendrzycki said...

When I worked as a technical writer, I always pushed to ensure that the people writing the instructions got on board a new project at the design stage. I have had to write PAGES of documentation to help someone navigate through some very unintuitive software screens, which, if designed thoughtfully, would have required little, if any, instructions. Technical writers and instructional designers have the perspective and ability to recommend (and build into the design) logical, clearly displayed, organized interfaces. Just by looking at them, a user or operator can (should) understand what he/she needs to do.

EinarB said...

Have you thought about what implications this will have in school, where much of the action is training?