I’d love to take credit for this provocative title, but, sadly, I can’t. This phrase was first used 45 years ago when a study showing little or no relationship between training and work performance was published.

Most recently, it was used this past August for the title of a Harvard Business School working paper which demonstrated the same findings.

What a Haul!

Since 2012, U.S. companies have spent more than $150Bn every year on education and training. That’s a lotta dough! Incredibly, survey data collected from HR and training professionals peg the effectiveness of these programs at… are you sitting down?… between 10% and 50%.

That means between $75Bn and $135Bn has been wasted EVERY year; no results to show for it. INSANE!

How can this happen? Remember the many times you’ve told executives or managers their problem wasn’t a training problem and they said ‘Train ’em anyways.’ and you did?

Or someone mistakenly thought a situation could be improved by training when, in reality, it couldn’t and that big program that got rolled out with so much fanfare went nowhere.

All these add up and up and up.

It’s the System!

Countless studies and anecdotes show that business performance problems are the result of overall system deficiencies, not lack of individual knowledge. This means that factors like an organization’s roles, responsibilities, reporting structure, standards and work flow primarily drive performance. Even if people learn a better way to work, they generally can’t apply it to their situation, so teaching them a ‘better way’ is waste.

The factors above are the very definition of a ‘value stream’ which is what Lean aims to improve.

Stop Getting Robbed

Understand and fix the value stream BEFORE creating ANY training! Otherwise, you’re fighting the tide.

Training is in a perfect position to lead these efforts; people are coming to you with problems to solve. Applying Lean tools like PDCA, root cause analysis and good problem statements will keep you from jumping to conclusions and help you create genuinely effective training.

Read about UPS’s driver training program in a previous post on their Circle of Honor recognition program. It’s a work of art.

The Training Bottom Line

How much are you (inadvertently) contributing to the Great Training Robbery? How much money does your organization annually spend on education and training and how effective are these programs at changing behavior and improving performance on the job long term?

It could be a very scary number. Look it straight in the eye and vow to change your approach. My Lean Learning certification programs can help.

Let’s Ride!

Todd Hudson, Head Maverick