A Law of Human Gravity and Training That Works

Tags training, implementation, management, people, people skills

Every month I get requests to bring back CAD PILOT JUMP SCHOOL.

People Want Training That Works

It's true that Training the Works is a priceless commodity that is devalued like the US dollar by the constant grinding of the printing press. There's a reason that past Jumpers keep asking for More. Once you EXPERIENCE something closer to the real deal nothing else comes close. Ask them. Don't ask me.

You might think I'm somewhat flattered by the attention, but I'm NOT really. You see I KNOW and they know that Training that Works is NOT about ME or the skills, knowledge, and experience of any particular instructor. Huh?
All that is the illusion of "the expert". Whether or not I've forgotten more about ACAD, Civil 3D, and other software than most people will ever know does NOT matter squat to the person (the Cadpilot) who needs to acquire real practical skill to do their job. Get 'er Done is the real deal.

Today, we train people in software and a lot of other important skills just like we train grade school kids. If you haven't noticed, THAT method doesn't apparently work for many kids either these days. It certainly doesn't work well for professional, skilled adults. What's really scary is it doesn't work for a lot of people in our institutions of higher learning either except in specific disciplines. There are KNOWN reasons for why this is so. 

Please forgive me. This became a LONG post to get to those reasons.

A Traditional Classroom Lab Environment is not Training That Works

Any training is a lot better than NO training.

God knows I'd spent more of my life being "trained" in the classroom way than most human beings. I could wall paper a large apartment with my "certificates". I figured out that I'd spent almost a month a year for a decade doing only that.
"See. You learned something." 
Of course I did. I'm a classroom wunderkid. The traditional classroom lab environment is a rigged game for people like me. I was professionally trained and mentored by the best in the business in how to "cheat". I read the manuals before installing. I do next week's reading and homework not this week's work. I'll read the entire training manual cover to cover on the first morning of class. If I can, I'll steal the instructor's book at lunch on the first day and read that too. I read the C3D help files every day. Cram and barf is a practiced discipline like a martial art.

Training That Doesn't Work Got Personal

I had a career crisis. This was like a mid-life crisis without the Corvette. If I'm going to spend my life doing something, it had better make some sort of productive difference to the people I was doing it for and doing it with or game over. This is crazy I know, but it's MY insanity.

What the heck was wrong with training? Was there ANYWHERE where training was working? What were they doing that was different? What made a difference and what didn't? How do individual human beings REALLY learn how to DO complex things?
When I started the hunt for Training That Works little did I know I'd have to get a PhD (or two) and learn entirely new languages and disciplines to answer these "simple" questions. God does have a way of doing things just like this to us.

To Know is Not the Capability to Do

Oooo...sounds like another bad line from a scene from another bad Karate Kid remake. However, the statement's true and we all know it. As St. Paul says, my behavior does not agree with what I know I want to do. I'm fat because I eat too much and I don't exercise enough. I choose not to lose. I'm responsible for that not Dunkin' Donuts, McDonalds, my genes, or anyone else. I don't like that anymore than anyone else either.

The Tipping Point of Contradiction

As adults we JUDGE everything we are taught and experience. This is both an unfortunate consequence of human brain development and a blessing since we can adjudicate experience and extrapolate from our perceived experience of others. This known fact makes adults DIFFERENT from both grade school kids and adolescents whether they or we think and act like it or not. 

A Theory of Human Relativity

Because of my science bent I call this part of the Theory of Human Relativity. It's one of the effects of the Laws of Human Gravity. 
We've only just discovered in the last few years the larger universe outside has Dark Matter producing Structure and Dark Energy producing expansive Force. These "things" exist. They are vital to life itself. We still cannot begin to explain them at all. We can see and measure what they do, but what they "are" is unfathomable.
The Laws of Human Gravity are somewhat like that too, but we learn more every day. I hope you're paying attention.

A Law of Human Gravity

This FACT (one of the Laws of Human Gravity) that adults judge the value of learning fundamentally changes how you must attack the "training" problem.
ALL adult education and TRAINING is reeducation and RETRAINING. To pretend that you can present things and they will be accepted by adults without serious preconceived expectations is a fallacy. The fact the people talk at us all the time doesn't make that useful.
Experienced adults don't naturally DO what they are told. Adults DO what they DO because they already "know" it. This is unfortunately true even if what we "know" doesn't apply at all to our current circumstance.

The Snake Pit

Adult human beings are an Indiana Jones' Snake Pit of pattern-based emotional contradiction backed up by the power of an individualized wisdom of Self. It's no wonder that most technical "adult" education and training systematically dodges the "people" bullet.
Educators, Teachers, Instructors and Trainers quickly learn they can die down there in the Snake Pit.
If we put our adult students back in a kindergarten class environment maybe they will behave long enough for me to barf it up and get out of Dodge City before they call the hangin' judge. I will not and cannot resist quoting one of my favorite lines from the opening scene of the movie "Blazing Saddles".

"Somebody help the poor boy."

As trainers faced with the Snake Pit, it is way too easy to hold yourself hostage pointing a gun to your head with your own hand. It is too easy to make the students feel good about being trained by you and somehow feel better off because of it. That's a Pyrrhic victory indeed.
Inspiration is important, but it is not the goal or the intended result. 

The Fundamentals of Training Solutions that Work

Someone asked me for the "Principals of Jump School" which is why I started this post so here goes. Because the Principals are processed based they appear in no particular or specific order of importance.

1) All adults will train themselves or they won't and don't. Training should be hard to get in and easy to get out. All of us have been in training where some people were there and some people just showed up every session. Training without attrition is not reality. Don't get me wrong here. Almost all people can be trained. Someone whose dad died the day before the training starts is pretty unlikely to be THERE. Emotional readiness is more important than brains, skill or anything else.

2) Adults must be an Active part of the training process itself. That means adult "students" must teach and mentor while they are taught. No exceptions and no excuses accepted. This definitely works to keep the attrition rate lower. It was actually true in Jump School that some of our "best" mentors were completely new to the software. Really.

3) Everything in the Training requires a direct response and/or a real result from every student. You participate and produce or you go home.

4) Performance under pressure is more important to real results than any human comfort or temporary inconvenience. Safe 'home" environments are destructive to active learning processes. In-house training is not only dangerous. It can be expensively wasteful.

5) "Learning at your own pace" always results in little or no progress except for a very small percentage of self-disciplined people - This group is the 3-5% of the population who would learn it anyway. From my perspective, these people should not be part of any reasonable measurement of training results either. For the most part and from most adult's perspective, a much higher percentage of people believe they fall into this self-disciplined group.

6) Multiple instructors backed by mentors are a must. Human beings DO learn differently. What works for Bob doesn't work at all for Roberta. High speed deep and effective delivery of complex subject matters is real instructor work. Instructor output is where the needed "content" pressure comes from in part. Instructors must own their content but THAT does NOT have to be all inclusive. Many people think you have to have a PhD and "understand everything" to train well. This is again the illusion of the expert. This sounds reasonable, but it is a narrative fallacy. The instructor just has to know more than the student. Training is more like coaching than graduate school which is actually more like coaching than you might think.

7) If the students aren't emotionally "disturbed" or "upset" during the training process something is seriously wrong with what you are doing. All 10's means people are lying to you or you missed them completely. Those results will not be Training That Works. No one likes to accept this fact, which is really why most training doesn't work. The emotional Snake Pit is real. Both staff and participants deal with those human realities or avoid them. The People work is a serious part of the real deal.

8) Fundamental Pattern Construction is More Important than explicit "How to" instruction and/or student Understanding. However, "How to" makes the Pattern Construction and rebulding possible that eventually produces student Understanding.
I am sorry to again sound so psuedo Zen. 
What does that mean?
More Simply put: human beings are able to do things because we build up repetitively learned patterns in our heads. We know from hard science our bodies are actually the major "way" we do this. We forget this as adults because we have layered so much knowledge and "symbolized" stuff on top of the physical and kinetic framework. 
We THINK and BELIEVE it is the knowing and understanding that must come first. But this is obviously NOT true. We can learn to drive a car without any understanding at all about how and why the wheels go round and round. Our need to know How and Why gets in the way. If you are even a bit of a musician, you get this. Doing your "scales" always leads to more than just the ability to perform them. Learning to shoot hoops leads to more than basketball skill.

If we learn the "wrong" pattern, unlearning a pattern makes creating a different pattern a bit more difficult unless we "get" what is really going on. Our brains are optimized to conserve energy and avoid unnecessary work at all costs. In practical terms, the human adaptive unconscious (this unconscious has nothing to do with Freud) is smarter than we are. That's why the "patterns" we are talking about are there in the first place. The patterns allow us to cheat death and not think and decide all the time. Cool.
But the patterns are also directly hooked up to our sense of self and our emotions. This is why you cannot avoid the Snake Pit and anyone who disagrees is lying to you. 

9) Therefore, an act of conscious will is necessary to overcome our inertia - the human Autopilot. Adults will instinctively avoid the repetition work that kids "have to do" unless there are demonstrable rewards available.

This is a bit off topic but kids aren't so stupid either. They too learn what patterns they have to learn to get by. Kids are people too. No kid could learn the first act of Hamlet word for word by the age of five. Think again. I know him. He is NOT my kid. He taught himself to do it. He liked the "To Be or Not to Be" speech because he saw Lawrence Olivier do it in the old movie. He thought it was fun. He also was proud to annouce that he could do it all without throwing up as the famous actor did every time he performed it live. If you are a parent, you already know to beware of old "safe" DVD collections.

Training That Works is hard to find because it is hard to do.

Spring Training is the Professional Thing to Do

10) There's a reason that all professional sports all train and continue to practice the "basics" each and every year. To not do so is not only unprofessional it directly leads to poor results. In the white collar world we seem to prefer to believe something else. For reasons I understand all to well, doing anything "basic" has less precieved value than pretending to deliver something more "advanced".

11) If you think the Navy Seals and Army Rangers are tough and pretty amazing, you need to consider how and who are the people training them? I did. Like I said. God takes you to interesting places. You also get to meet some really interesting people if you really want to know. That is really why I think Jump School worked so well.

12) Training that Works is an engineered experience like the best rides at Disneyland or the best roller coasters on earth.

Let's Jump. I'm game if you are?