Anyone who has been in the corporate training field for a while will undoubtedly be familiar with this request: “Great training session. Can we do a shorter version?”
The popular variations of this question include:
- I know it’s a 2-day session, can we do it in 1 day?
- I know it’s a 1-day session, can we do it in a half-day?
- I know it’s a half-day session, can we do it as a lunch and learn?
If you listen carefully, you can actually hear trainers shouting ‘NO!’ at their screens as they read this.
To those in a non-training field, let me explain why the answer is ‘no’ (for the most part). Let’s start by assuming that the trainer is not stubborn and intractable:
- The request usually comes at the end of the project. That is, the instructional designer has built the course to fit certain time constraints and now they are being asked to radically change the design at the last minute.
- When you cut out certain elements from a training session you jeopardize the objective of running the session in the first place.
Let’s use the example of a training session leadership development for a group of managers. Most courses of this type will teach a model for part of the session then spend a big chunk of time practicing and applying the model.
Now, imagine you need to cut the session length in half. Simple, just cut out the practice ‘stuff’ – people hate role play and case studies anyway. You might think that you’ve solved the problem by eliminating the fluff and sticking with the core content (after all, the participants will still learn the model).
There are two problems with this:
First, if participants only see the model, what exactly is their motivation for using it?
Second, if participants try the model unpracticed, the chances of it working perfectly are slim and the chance of them ever trying it again are nil.
You need to allow participants to test out new theories in a risk-free environment. To connect what they’re learning to their real-world experiences. If you cut in the wrong places, participants either fail or give up.
There are many techniques available to create a blended training program that satisfies time constraints while achieving the key objectives of the program. Myopically focusing on session length alone won’t achieve your objectives for the program.
GOING FORWARD: Identify all training-related constraints during the assessment phase (including time) and, if you have to make changes at the end, look to leverage blended learning solutions.