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Why Does Most Training Not Work?

Oct 11, 2007
This may come as a shock to a lot of business owners but it is true! Most training does not work! Some companies spend hundreds, thousands and even millions of pounds or dollars on training programs that simply don't produce a consistent return on investment.


Well, it's not that the training courses or seminars themselves are not any good. In 30 years of being involved in sales and marketing in one way or another I have seen "the good" "the bad" and the downright "ugly". However, in most cases, what it really boils down to is the way in which the training is delivered. More to the point, what happens after initial delivery.

If you have ever been on a training course or seminar before, I am certain you will know what I am talking about. You turn up at the venue and the course may even extend to 2 or 3 days. During that time you are mixing and mingling with either colleagues in the same large corporate company or a mixture of people from different companies and backgrounds. There is usually a buzz about the place as the course progresses and in some instances it can be quite entertaining.

What happens next? Still slightly high on the euphoria of all the new tools and techniques you have picked up you go out with a renewed kind of vigour desperate to try them out. Then after a few days, at best, maybe a few weeks the lift has almost gone completely and you find yourself slipping back into that fabulous recognisable comfort zone. Is this starting to sound familiar?

So what is it that happens and why, in most cases, does the training not deliver the return on investment that you would expect?

A huge part of this challenge is down to something called the Ebbinghaus Effect.

Please allow me to explain.

Hermann Ebbinghaus carried out the first experimental investigations of memory in Germany from 1879 to 1895. He discovered that our ability to recall information shows a rapid decrease over a very short space of time. After just a few hours, more than 60% of information is lost. A frightening thought!

The decline in recall then eases slightly but, even so, within a month, more than 80% can no longer be recalled. His now famous results are known as the Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting. So you see, it's not necessarily the training itself, it's just the natural human trait of forgetting.

A cause for concern maybe? Let's look at the possible implications. On a course spanning 3 days, more that 50% of the information given on days 1 and 2 will be lost before the training has ended. A further 50% of day 3 could be lost on the drive or flight home.

This is something that does not just concern training either. It can affect an entire marketing program if not done correctly. For more insight into this phenomenon go to one of the search engines, type in Ebbinghaus Effect and see for yourself.

There is a solution!

This challenge can be resolved with a regular review of the material and ongoing training in any areas of weakness. Unfortunately this is not something that is always on offer or implemented.

So before you book your next sales training course, marketing seminar or marketing meeting ask yourself this key question.

Will the investment I am making be worthwhile or will the Ebbinghaus Effect take its toll?
About the Author
Paul Sutherland is an Accelerated Business Growth Coach. His company - Daniel Thomas International - www.dti.eu.com helps SMEs to grow their businesses with tried, tested and proven techniques and strategies. Also increasing their bottom line profits at the same time.
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