Teaching the Job, not the Tool

You can’t just provide someone the ingredients and hope that they will bake a good cake.

No one wakes up in the middle of the night with a burning desire to use a decision support system, but they sure as heck would like to make better business decisions.

We use computers to get things done.

When you simply teach someone how to use a software application divorced from the job itself, you are relying upon the users to transform that knowledge into better job performance and it usually doesn’t work.

Here’s why.

  • Most people don’t do their job all that well in the first place.
  • Few can agree upon the best ways to perform their duties.
  • Even fewer possess the mental magic to determine how to redesign their jobs when their tools change.
  • Chances are also that none of them has a crystal ball to determine what management had in mind in the first place.

I recommend observing a few “experts.” Watch them closely. Take good notes and ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to slow them down and ask them what they are doing and why they are doing it. Be sure to determine if they always do it the same way, how and when they do it differently, and how they know when it’s done well.

If you are training people to use a new computer application, your job is a little tougher. You probably need to team an expert in the application with an expert in the job and allow them plenty of time to work together.

Good luck and I hope this helps!