Dear Jo: “I’ve Just Been Handed the Training Department!” - Part Two

Corporate Training Insights from an Industry Veteran: Dear Jo

Last time, I had a terrific question from Chris, a reader with great skills in problem solving and process improvement, but minimal experience in corporate training and learning and development (L&D)—and she’d just been handed the training department! Our first issue to tackle was how to get the information she needed to identify the challenges within the department. Take a look at “Dear Jo: ‘I’ve Just Been Handed the Training Department’—Part One.

With that information gathered, another question quickly followed…

Dear Jo,
How Much Training Industry Knowledge Do I Need?

It’s a common question from someone in Chris’s position.

Dear Chris,
Let’s Start with the Basics.

The most important attribute you need is strong leadership, of which you have already demonstrated your past success.

So what you need now is enough training industry knowledge to make and communicate strategic decisions on priorities and resources and earn the respect of your team.

The question of “enough knowledge” will drive varied answers from L&D professionals—and I hope my colleagues will add to the discussion. Like any discipline, we all have our views on this topic, and here is mine.

I caution you to not fall too deeply into the weeds—it’s very easy to do. You need to have a basic understand of the following, however:

  • The role of knowledge and skill-building in human performance.
    While significant, it is only one of the factors. The most effective L&D departments (regardless of where they report in the organization) understand this, and know how to leverage learning and align it with other performance factors, such as compensation, processes, tools, and resources.
  • How courses are created and delivered.
    The time and amount of effort it takes to create a course is often a shock to someone new to the industry. A basic industry standard model, and a good place to start, is ADDIE: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. While I caution you not to get too far into the details, it will serve you well to understand this process at a high level. Once you have this basic understanding, it is easier to explore some of the newer, rapid development models as well.
  • The financials.
    Understand the full cost of creating and delivering courses. This is especially important in resource decisions (internal and external) and in making recommendations to your clients.
  • The technology of learning.
    This has become more critical in recent years and encompasses both PC and mobile technology.

Teaching—or how adults learn and behavior is affected—is both an art and a science. Fortunately there are those with great expertise in the field who can guide you along the way.

I highly recommend you look into two organizations—ATD (Association for Talent Development, formerly known as American Society for Training & Development) and ISPI (International Society for Performance Improvement)—for training industry knowledge. And I highly recommend that you read The Learning Rush, real-time news from the top industry thought leaders.

I wish you the best of luck with your new team, and feel free to send along other questions as they arise!



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Learn more about Jo Coulson and read her blog at

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