I’m not a big fan of “training” — it feels like something we do “unto” others. But something from this Fast Company article on training at Google caught my eye. I’ve highlighted the bit…
Once a quarter, the company tosses a larger training at the staff, called SalesPro, which takes a deep dive into one particular strategic issue, like display advertising or the mobile business. The soup-to-nuts program takes about six hours, but rather than delivering it all in one fell swoop, or even through a series of hour-long, do-it-yourself modules, Google breaks the information into bite-sized chunks lasting no more than seven minutes each, so agents can download and peruse them at their desks, on their commutes, even on their cell phones while watching Little League or waiting in line at airport security.Online games help agents dial in their knowledge. Leaderboards foster friendly competition. And quizzes following each training make sure the agents are absorbing the new information.“This is a new, complicated, and very fast-moving market,” Dennis Woodside, who took over as President, Americas, in 2009 when Tim Armstrong jumped ship to become CEO of AOL, tells Fast Company. “The challenge is: How do you get a comprehensive overview in a short period of time?”Google’s new tack is a far cry from the traditional methods of corporate training, that of corralling staffers into classrooms or having them click through tedious online modules.
I’ve been doing a lot of online events and I’ve been trying to break things down more or less in seven minute segments to try and alternate information delivery with more intentional group interaction (shared whiteboarding, polls, chat, etc) If nothing else, it is a good reminder for me to shut up for a bit! It seems to help quite a bit in my experience.
Now here is another interesting segment on the Google efforts that resonates
“People learn best from experts,” Newhouse says, “but they learn best from experts who are not droning on and on.” The secret to the Product Spotlights, she says, is that rather than relying on product managers to dream up a course, the moderator simply guides them to the aspects of the product most relevant to the sales staff. Woodside says the new training method probably costs about the same as the old approach. Its more investment, he says, than cost.
I’d replace the word “expert” with “practitioners.” And really work hard to help those practitioners know/see/feel/hear how important their knowledge is to others. One of the things that always amazes me is how often people think what they know isn’t valuable to others. Most often it is. (Funny, there are also a few who think they are the center of the universe. And they probably aren’t!)