8 months from now on we will have enough vaccinated people so we can open the training rooms. People want to experience again the classroom training, for their needs of human connection, but virtual training is cheaper. What will be the best solution for training and development in 2021?
One of the most bizarre ideas that gained a lot of popularity lately, is that the world is flat. You know, flat as in … if you sail too far away from the center of the Earth, you might fall into space. This idea was a real deal until the 17th century when the world got new evidence. First, Magellan circumnavigated the world in a 3-year long voyage. Facing torture, Galileo Galilei was forced to reconsider his theory in 1633, that the Earth is spinning around the sun, while Nicolaus Copernicus waited until his deathbed to publish “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” in 1543. In his book, he stated the idea that the Earth is spherical, it spins around his axis and around the Sun. It took 200 years for the Catholic Church to withdraw the ban of Copernicus’ book and 350 years to make peace with Galileo Galilei. And yet, in 2005 Thomas L. Friedman claimed again: “The world is flat” – and this time, I had to agree with him.
What made me change my mind? Simply, Friedman doesn’t consider a physical world, but he is more concerned about the globalization trend. Shipping call center jobs from the U.S. to India, moving production companies into China and companies keeping its money in fiscal paradises, outside USA, was enough evidence for him.
Today, based on our 2020’s experience, we have even more evidence of a flattening world: we communicate, we have meetings, we learn, we develop projects, we team up and we work with people that are physically thousand km away. Sometimes they are not people… but AI, smoothly embedded into our reality. This reality makes the ‘90s Sci-Fi stories become obsolete, so if this is how present looks like, how about the future? Even more specific, how does the future of training & development look like in the year of 2021?
“Who controls the past, controls the future. And who controls the future, controls the present.” said George Orwell in “1984”. With that in mind, what is our perspective about learning and training that we grew up with? What is the past of the training? I remember my first professional training, in 1997: 12 up to 20 people gathered together in the same room, sharing the same air and reading, working individually, in pairs or small groups, with one trainer in front of us. The trainer was the main source of information, but she was also questioning, facilitating, providing feedback, challenging us. And the training was quite relevant to us, being directly connected with our jobs.
What about the future? I’ll take the risk and make a huge jump, many years from now on. Guess what? You know it too as you might have already seen the future of training. In 1999 was released the first part of the Matrix series. There was a scene, where the heroes need to escape from the top of a building, but neither of them is able to fly the helicopter stationed on the roof. At that moment, one of the main characters – Trinity makes a phone call and asks: “I need the pilot program for B-212 helicopter. Hurry!” And in seconds, the operator downloads it to her memory, while she instantly becomes highly skilled at flying that helicopter. My conclusion? The training reached its objective.
You’re right: it’s hard to believe that very soon we will be able to download knowledge and skills into our brains. However, it took us less than a year to embrace the virtual way of working at global scale. Whenever we stay more than 10 seconds on a web page, suddenly there is a pop-up, with “Mike”, “Eve” or whatever trust inspiring name you want, that’s asking you: “may I help you?” in so many forms, trying to convince you to become their customer. And I know and you know that Mike or Eve are a program, designed to answer specific simple, predictable answers. You know you’re talking to AI, right? If it’s not enough evidence for you, is Google AI, talking to a woman and making a reservation at a beauty salon.
While AI becomes more and more busy, taking off the burden of such mundane activities, what’s next? If a highly evolved computer can change or fix our daily routine, can we limit its interference with our lifes? Shall we talk about the progress of VR – Virtual Reality? And what’s more puzzling or interesting, are doctors’ findings, that scanning people’s brain while using VR, they found out that a human being is not able to make any difference between reality or Virtual Reality.
Can you see now, any closer, the idea of “operator, download my next level skills into my brain?” Then let’s get back to our key question: what’s going to look like training and development in 2021? Before making any assumptions, here are few key facts that may guide our thoughts.
- Last year’s Brand Minds event – streamed online for the first time, had 15 guests, 15.000 online users and it was a 3-day long event. In the first day there were technical problems due to limited network capacity, but they were fixed soon. It went in very good conditions on 26th and 27th of September. It included even live Q & A sessions! Conclusion: we have the recipe for mass, online trainings, and they can be effective.
- We see an inflation of e-learning trainings, simply huge shelves of books, stacked in a virtual environment, with almost no impact on people’s performance. At the same time, top universities developed excellent interactive programs, effectively upgrading participants knowledge and expertise.
- Last, but not the least: we, as human beings, have an inner need of connection, of face-to-face interaction, to communicate with other people using all our senses, if possible. While virtual communication is cost effective, is taking away from us a lot of emotions, feelings, concerns – exactly those elements that are the most difficult to be simulated by AI. Shaking hands, seeing a genuine smile in the eyes of your colleague, observing the dropped shoulders of your teammate, listening and understanding the various notes of a simple “hello” – all of these are giving us humanity. Instead, virtual communication is putting us a picture or a black square with our name written on it, and we transform ourselves in “professionals”, while we die inside bit by bit.
In 2021 we will continue to have virtual training, but everybody will have higher standards. Customers will ask for proven results that the virtual program works. The HR managers will start to measure the level of competencies of participants, before the training begins and 3-6 months after the program is completed. At the same time participants will ask for human interaction and in classroom training. In about 6 months we will have enough people immunized as a consequence of the vaccination campaign and we will open the training rooms again. That will be the challenge. What is the best solution if you want to train & develop a team of 16 people, 8 working in Bucharest, 5 in Timisoara and 3 in Iasi? Will you use classroom training? Virtual training? Or the hybrid one – having live people and virtual presence in the same physical room? We have tested and experienced all of them. We have developed High Performance Learning Journeys for all these 3 situations, and we are ready to share the results with you.
What about you? What is your perspective about training and development for 2021?
You know, just for reading this article, you’ve stayed long enough on our webpage, just to be asked by Alex or Ana “would you like to find out more about our programs?” This is a simple teaser or an invitation to meet us (virtually or in the flesh) and to discover how effective we are. Or you can have the initiative and call us. It’s your choice.
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