Time to end the factory model of training

Derek Robertson.jpg

Derek Robertson , CEO

(Chartered FCIPD, MCMI, MInstLM, NLP Practitioner and Coach) 

4 min read


“There is nothing new under the sun”. Humanity already knows how people learn best, so organisations should get meaningful training 100% of the time.



The problem is that too many people don’t get the most out of their training because too much of the delivery is stuck in the past.

Your business needs confident, capable and agile learners; able to learn new things fast and apply them straight away.

Unfortunately, many who commission training settle for out-dated factory models of delivery instead of working with providers who understand how adults learn most effectively.

However, a clear call to action will better guarantee your organisation’s training delivers its intended benefits.


The Gutenberg effect


As a 13th century aristocrat, you’d do anything to get storytellers to your castle. They’d share their tales, songs and news in colourful, entertaining and vivid ways. They’d hold people’s attention, helping them learn, memorise and remember. Those minstrels were middle-ages superstars.

In 1450 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and changed the nature of learning. Knowledge in books was accessible and permanent. The result? People good with words and logic became the stars – and that created learning discrimination.


The factory model of education


Fast forward to the UK’s Industrial Revolution where schooling of the masses followed a factory model. Rows of varied and unique minds were ‘taught’ by an authority figure standing over them. The focus was reading, writing and arithmetic. The tools were books, physical punishment and unwavering uniformity.

Trouble is that system is not how everyone learns best.


Today’s ‘pour and snore’


The factory model’s inheritance is today’s ‘pour and snore’ training. It’s the expert droning on: content, content, content, content. The results are:

  • Experienced, creative adults bored out their wits
  • People opting out of training (learners simply logging off and disappearing from virtual sessions)
  • Most worrying for organisations - people feeling less confident about their ability to learn


We know what to do

Question. Would you ever consider sitting down a two-year old to give them a lecture on grammar? Of course not. You engage them in conversation, laugh off their mistakes and make it stress-free play. Their brilliant brains can work out grammar without consciously realising it.

And today’s heroic learning leaders like Knowles, Rose, Jenson, Meier and Lozonov have reconnected us to what makes great business training.



I’ve seen trainings full of lights, colours, props, elaborate themes leading to participants having a great time and . . . well that’s it: a great time.

If the intention was to have a great time, go 10-pin bowling.

If the intention was improved business results you need sizzle and substance.


When you next commission training


Demand an approach that:

  1. Focuses participants on what’s in it for them
  2. Delivers an engaging multisensory experience with the training ball in their court for at least 70% of the time
  3. Helps them ‘show they know’ in confidence-building ways
  4. Supports them afterwards by keeping up the momentum for workplace action


Your trainers should

  • See themselves as the ‘guide on the side not the sage on the stage’
  • Create an environment of high challenge and high support
  • Be the catalyst for sparking learning in others and not hog the spotlight
  • Be excellent coaches with a deep knowledge of how the brain works

Ask of your training people, “Show me you are helping us build confident, capable and agile learners in our business.”

And check out our free ‘Five traps to avoid wasting your training’.