Shiny bright training solutions that don’t actually work but we think they do!


In “Thinking, Fast and Slow”  Daniel Kahneman says: “the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.”  Chartered Psychologist, Nigel Harrison uses the term “Solutioneering “to describe how organisations jump to training solutions too early.

Senior managers benefit from a number of “pay-offs” for choosing training as a shiny bright solution;
• I have been worried about this complex human problem for a while but now I have a simple solution
• I can tell my bosses that something is being done
• Someone else has to do it
• The spotlight will be taken off me and my performance
• The Training department are keen to help
• They have to deliver and I can point any blame at them

Therefore we get training requests such as “The Executive has agreed a budget for Leadership training for senior managers”.

This can result in a conspiracy of convenience when:
• Trainers enjoy running “Leadership” courses
• Participants’ enjoy going on them
• Reaction sheets are high
• The conspiracy is maintained and more courses are run

BUT there is actually no measurable benefit to the organisation.

How do we break out of this fast thinking, closed loop system?

Nigel Harrison has spent 30 years working with internal Business Partners in HR, L&D and I.T. helping them to break this cycle to work with clients and uncover the real business needs.  He says:
• We need to recognise the power of fast thinking and the benefits of the conspiracy of convenience
• Recognise that the training request is only to a clue to what the real need is
• Build trust and rapport with your client
• Do not challenge too early
• Help the client map out the complexity of where their problems are
• Make sure that they are on the diagram
• Identify the complex causes for the performance problem(including their accountability)
Create a joint set of performance solutions (including training)

It’s not easy but when we can do this L&D professional start to be perceived as trusted advisors and credible partner rather than “order takers”.
So next time a client approaches you with a shiny bright solution such as; “They need training”

Just slow down a bit
Think “training is a possible solution not the need?”
•  “Who is involved here?”
• “What are they doing now?
• “What do we want them to be able to do?”
• “How can we work together to close this performance gap?”

Nigel runs 2-day Masterclasses on Performance Consulting skills for the LPI every quarter.  Or you might be interested in his paperback “How to be a True Business Partner by Performance Consulting”. 

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