The word ‘training’ can mean many different things depending on the participants and situation.  For pet owners, it means teaching a puppy, kitten, and even goats (yes, you read that right) how to behave properly and perhaps some trickswith the reward typically a treat and the praise of their owner or trainer.  For athletes, the concept of training involves a well-designed plan that incorporates different exercises, as well as necessary ‘rest’ daysthe reward ideally is successfully participating in an event or achieving a desired level of fitness.  In many corporations, the concept of training is traditionally perceived by participants with reluctance, apathy, and even angstdespite the valiant efforts of those who are leading and sponsoring the training agendas to bolster enthusiasm and reward training completion.

It’s time to change that perception.  No longer should the word ‘training’ be in the lexicon or on calendars of companies who wish to truly augment their employees’ skills and advance their organizational prowess.  In The Parker Avery Group’s latest point of view, “Advancing Retail Through Sustainable Learning,” organizational change management (OCM) expert Kathi Toll outlines why and how companies must focus on sustainable learning and true proficiencyand scrap the word training forever.  Below is an excerpt of this publication.


Keep this phrase top of mind: training does not equal learning. After investing millions of dollars and thousands of hours in customizing a new technology or redesigning an organization or reengineering business processes, a slight 12 to 20 hours are typically dedicated to the education of the employees. Adult learners are hands-on creatures; listening to the most energetic facilitator or watching someone else do the new task does little to help an adult learn, let alone become proficient at the new skill, but that clashes with our instant-gratification society. We assume that as adults, we should figure it out and move on.

However, adults simply do not retain information after attending a training session without a well-crafted support plan in place. The entire concept of training must be re-framed—because someone attends a few three-hour training sessions for a new system does not equate to proficiency in using the new system. Instead, what if the training session was poised as the ‘opening act’ for a new learner? It is their first exposure to the information, but it cannot stop there.

Many people know of the ‘learning pyramid,’ which emphasizes the need for adults to engage in hands-on practice as well as teach others the new skill. To embed new knowledge in your organization, you need in-house experts who can guide and support others. It’s critical you own the expertise, because the road to proficiency is a long one, but it can be accelerated.

Several years ago, in his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell suggested it takes approximately 10,000 hours to become an expert at just about anything. This timeframe is a depressing thought for today’s fast-paced business environment: when you consider that one full-time equivalent (FTE) works approximately 1900 hours a year, Gladwell essentially says it takes five years for an employee to become skilled on a new business process or system. The good news is, while a catchy sound-bite, the 10,000-hour rule is decidedly flawed. However, it still takes more time than most think for team members to get up to speed. Much of this is due to how our memory and memory recall works.

Let’s take a moment to understand human recall because it informs how best to shape a training program:

Understanding how the human brain handles most information is critical in developing sustainable programs that foster true learning and result in long-term knowledge retention, skill maturity, and ultimately—expertise. In the next section, we will look at some key ways to do this.


To read the entire point of view, please click here.

For more Parker Avery thought leadership related to training and organizational change, we invite you to read the following:

If you have questions about enhancing your own organizational learning programs, please contact us.
Published On: July 18, 2019Categories: Change Management, Kathi Toll, Retail Strategy, Training