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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

How To Catch Fish and Starve To Death

ask why before you ask how

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

In Minnesota, fishing is nearly the state religion. In May, the walleye season opener falls on Mother's Day weekend, generally, and if Mom doesn't fish, she's probably taking second place.

We live in a state that, with all those lakes and rivers and streams, offers more coastline than California and Florida and Hawaii put together. There's one boat for every six people in Minnesota.

Fishing has always been associated with a lot of technique, a lot of tricks and skills. And these days, it comes with a lot of technology, if you want to use it.

Over the long span of history, the purpose of fishing has changed, for many people. After all, fishing developed as a way to feed yourself. And many people still eat what they catch (especially those walleye!).

But many now fish simply for recreation, for sport. They catch fish and release them back into the lake.

Why you fish will determine a lot about how you fish, what kind of fish you go after, where you look for them. And it certainly doesn't make sense to become really good at the techniques of fishing if you don't have a reason for fishing.

Sometimes when our clients come to us for help with training issues, we treat it as a matter of technique and technology. They want to see changes in employee behavior, and we will apply our skills and knowledge to make those changes come about.

Both training staff and their internal clients might be a little happier if they asked the "Why are you fishing?" question now and then. Understanding what matters to the client can help with effective design, powerful delivery, and lasting results.

For some clients, there's a line between quality and output, for others, safety and productivity are challenges. Some are pursuing behavior changes that they believe will further some more distant or abstract goal. But with the objectivity and wisdom you can bring to the conversation, you may be able to reveal gaps between the training they think they need and more effective solutions.

Training that isn't built around an understanding of the client's priorities, concerns, and trade-offs is probably doomed to be less successful than you would like. It's like teaching someone who is starving how to catch and release fish!

Make sure all your design and delivery decisions fit the underlying needs, even the philosophy, of the clients you serve.

Ask "Why?"

© 2013 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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