Monday, October 22, 2007

The Training and KM Conundrum

I am reading a book ... Beyond Training and Development, by William J. Rothwell. The book is dedicated to the subject of Human Performance Enhancement. To be honest, I had never heard of the subject before I picked up the book. Or, rather, was gifted the book, and decided to read it. I just began reading, so I am yet to figure out how the book is, and what I think about the subject.

But, I get the feeling I am going to thoroughly relate to this. Let me explain. A lot of this doesnt seem like its all Greek to me. Two reasons ... One, I come from a training background, and have spent a large part of my working life in the training industry (a la Oracle University). So the entire lifecycle of training is not new to me. But, and this is interesting ... I read a Case Study in the book ... which is introducing the way the training department should evolve to more than simply training, the old fashioned way (something on those lines. Bear with me, I will surely write more). And, as I read this Case Study, i was thinking how this Case Study could be one which could be used to explain and illustrate the requirement and the applicability of concepts like Communities of Practice to students who may be completely new to the subject. True, the author comes up with a solution which is training oriented, but the fact is, I could see a solution to the problem more in the realm of KM rather than Training.

Which brings me to the question ... Where does Training end, and KM begin? The way I see it, the line can be quite imaginary at times. If the point of both is skills enhancement, then they are essentially two parts of the same machine. But, if the point of Training is to run as per a calendar, rather than developing skills (which, by definition, has to be in accordance with the larger organizational context), then the two cannot be part of a single sub-system. Or, one could develop a working distinction ... Acquisition of new skills ... Training, dissemination of existing skills ... KM. But, this definition doesnt quite hold true, either. Remember T3?

I have written about this conundrum before. Though, I am no closer to finding the answer to the question I raised than I was then. But, the fact is, that unless the two work in synchronization, you might end up having a scenario where you have a train, with two locomotives at the two ends, pulling the train in two different directions. Bottomline, make sure Training supplements the KM need, or you could look at it the other way round, depending on whether you work in KM, or Training.

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