Monday, February 11, 2013

Training is a Bicycle

Which gets you where you're going faster and more stably - a unicycle or a bicycle? The one with two wheels, right? Of course.

With that in mind, think of the training programs you build - are they bicycles? 
  • The back wheel is the training you build to establish performance; the kind of training you'd give to newly hired employees who don't know what they're doing. 
  • The front wheel is the support you give to established employees to continually improve performance. 
  • The frame that holds the bike together is the training you give to supervisors so the front wheel doesn't fall off.
  • The handlebars are the stakeholders who use their vision to steer the bicycle toward business goals.
  • The speedometer is continuous evaluation of the training program and its parts; evaluation tells you how your training program is doing. If it's not going as well as you'd like, maybe you need to upgrade some of the parts of your bike, or maintain them better.
The beauty of this bicycle analogy is that it sets up an explanation of "blended learning" perfectly. A blended learning program might use a virtual classroom as the hub of the back wheel. From this hub come the spokes - you might have learners go off to complete some e-learning, watch videos, complete workbooks, or go through simulations before returning to the virtual classroom. 

Supervisor training - the frame - uses a variety of media to prepare supervisors to be great coaches, mentors, and technical experts.

The hub of the front wheel is overall performance support - anything that helps people do their jobs better. The spokes are on-the-job-training, coaching, knowledgebases, feedback, performance reviews, up-skilling, job aids, and so on: performance-enhancing "drugs" that are totally legal.

So the question is are you guilty of building just the back wheel or just the front wheel? If so, is it any wonder that your training program crashes; in other words, doesn't influence on-the-job performance in the long run? (Of course, you probably don't know whether the program has crashed - you've only built a wheel, you've ignored the speedometer.)

Check out my visual depiction of this bicycle concept at

Brian is the Practice Leader of Workforce Performance at virtualwirks. He applies the efficiencies of virtualization to training and human performance programs for global clients.

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