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Learning to play hockey in the club house

Wouldn’t that be utterly remarkable: learning to play a team sport in the club house? You wouldn’t want to inflict this punishment on any team: "Come Mark, let me coach you on your hockey skills, so you’re well equipped for next weeks’ match”. It is so absurd, so strange and at the same time it’s daily practice within our companies and institutions.


Are you, like me, one of those in Learning and Development who is so surprised that all those training venues are so popular and seemingly perpetually fully booked? Maybe it ’s a Dutch thing and this is due to the fact that our country is so small that face-to-face learning is a feasible option, whereas in countries like the United States this becomes a fundamentally different matter. Maybe.

Let’s step back for a bit. What happens when we take training, as Charles Jennings puts it so lovingly, out of the workflow? We’re creating all sorts of transfer related issues, since we have to remember knowledge and skills that were taught in locations that were fundamentally and geographically different from where we work. Due to this ‘location gap’, our brain has difficulty remembering, simply because of the absence of sensory cues from the training venue in our workplace. This issue is compounded by the lack of feedback and encouragement that may have been commonplace during training, but starkly absent from colleagues and managers. As a consequence, our embryonic skill suffers. And - last but not least - we’ve acquired our new ‘baby steps’ decoupled from our related day to day performance challenges.

Will we remember what to do and how, at the moment of need, at the moment of performance when we’ve learned outside of the workflow? Not likely. And yet, there is a deep need for us to remember, since we need to grow our skill to basic proficiency by repeated application. Our embryonic baby steps, become baby stumblings when we don’t practice a new skill at least 30 to 50 times. And even if we hit that number, we’re still novices, not masters in the newly acquired skill.

In sports this issue of training outside of the workflow, is a complete unknown. Have you ever participated in a mountainbike clinic, as I did this weekend, without a mountain bike? Without surroundings to mountain bike in? Have you ever been trained to play hockey, not on the field, but in the club house? I guess you haven’t, have you?

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Let’s play!
In the past few weeks we’ve looked at some of the absurd common practices within our field of learning and development. From learning to ride without a bike, via learning to play soccer without a team to, finally, learning to play hockey in the club house.
Let’s play for a bit within our lovely field of learning, shall we? What are your perspectives on my three little rants? I look forward to our dialogue!

Tags: talent management

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