Is The Traditional Training Organization Over?
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Is The Traditional Training Organization Over?

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, we saw a multitude of businesses bring people home to work remotely in order to curb the outbreak. In other cases, businesses that depended on live in-person patronage had to scramble and get creative in the online space or fade away into a collateral of furloughs, pink slips, and unemployment.

As we now look back upon that “adapt out of necessity” riddled year, we are discovering that maybe we can do things remotely in the corporate world. Maybe there is strength and empowerment in trusting the remote worker to get their work done. And maybe, just maybe, there are creative, out-of-the-box ways to conduct business that we weren’t previously open to.

In this new era of embraced remote working and learning, is it possible to go too far to the other extreme? Will the technology and virtual work situation remain for the long term? A deeper, more thought-provoking question to ponder is will this be the end of the traditional brick-n-mortar training organization? As a learning leader, I do turn this over inside my mind and wonder if the likes of Fiverr will steal my training team for good.

The Research May Support This

According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, companies have accelerated their digitization of internal operations by three to four years due to the COVID-19 crisis. The executives studied even went as far as to state that most of these changes will be long-lasting and the budgeting structures almost ensure this. The funding for digital measures has increased more than anything else, “more than increases in cost, the number of people in technology roles, and the number of customers.” According to the survey, remote working is the likeliest to remain the longer the crisis lasts, stated 70% of the respondents.

The idea of a tipping point for technology adoption or digital disruption, although not new, suggests that the COVID-19 crisis is a tipping point of “historic proportions” and that more changes will be needed as the economic and human situation evolves. This leads me to my question and hypothesis…

The Organizational Models Of The Training Function Are Shifting

Typically in the corporate setting, training teams either take on the centralized, federated, or decentralized organizational model that are defined below:

  • Centralized: all resources and processes are managed within a single entity, reporting to one senior executive or leadership team. The advantage of this model is providing consistency.
  • Federated: centralizes certain processes of the training function within the enterprise and decentralizes others. In other words, training administration would be centralized, and content development and delivery are decentralized, combining the advantages offered by these two models and is why this model has become more popular among large companies.
  • Decentralized: (a hybrid of sorts) the training function is operated independently by certain entities throughout an enterprise; resources that are distributed across multiple lines of business or geographic areas. For example, the IT, sales, and HR departments each have their own training team.

In light of the changing structure to remote working and the survey findings, it’s logical to conclude that companies will lean more toward a federated model and further reduce the use of a centralized model. Possibly going as far as to merely have a centralized “coordinator” role that orchestrates the use of various needed modalities to piece together the needed training project, such as coordinating with a copywriter, graphic designer, curriculum designer, and IT as each specific project dictates. Taking on a more project approach that has the coordinator outlining the course and/or material, and then pulling together needed components from each vendor. This particular model lends itself to a more demand-based learning strategy and less of a business-centric strategy.

Another Concerning Hypothesis Appears

With the survey discovering that corporate focus and funds have shifted more toward technology to meet the demand of various speed-to-light initiatives, another logical hypothesis is that we are turning backward in our training approach to being more concerned with tasks at hand. The shiny object syndrome, if you will, and less focused on thinking through how the business needs are being met long term by the various training programs.

Does that mean that working remotely and keeping the training function more decentralized in light of the quick change needed due to the pandemic is resulting in companies forgetting how far they’ve come in being more business-centric in their training approaches, and once again watering down the training function to a more “order taker” approach? This author fears this may become the case, but it’s another deep question to consider for another time.

Conclusion

With 2021 upon us and the pandemic starting to diminish due to the distributed vaccines, the current training function and key stakeholders will need to make a concerted effort to remain diligent to the never-changing foundation of quality and planned out training solutions that meet the long-term needs of the business.

Close