Unknown…and unknowable

so much more than a bagSo it’s the beginning of an ‘Improvement through Systems Thinking’ course that I facilitate and I am asked a question from one of the attendees:

“What is the value, as in ‘return on investment’ (ROI), in me attending this training?”

Now, that’s a (sadly) all too common a question when someone working within a command-and-control environment has to guarantee a short term payback BEFORE they are authorised to spend time towards studying and improving their system.

Here’s my response:

1) It isn’t a training course. It is education, aimed at making you curious. No more and no less; and

2) The ‘value’ is unknown….and unknowable!!!

Sure, I can (and will) do my best in designing and delivering this course against its purpose but:

  • I cannot know (let alone dictate) which of you will speak to who during and afterwards, and about which bits. I cannot know when such conversation(s) will occur (tomorrow, next week, next month…or even after someone leaves for another organisation!) and I cannot know how the system will enable (or constrain) as and when these conversations eventuate;ย 
  • and perhaps the nub of it is that the ‘value’ is in YOUR hands to decide, not mine! YOU decide whether you will explore or ignore. YOU decide whether you are too comfortable in your current state or whether you desire growth. Not I.

…BUT that doesn’t make this a problem. It’s just ‘how it is’, whether you like it or not.

There is massive ‘organisation-changing’ value to be had…but it is for you to decide whether you pursue it.

The ‘ROI as permission to act’ view of the world is such a poor way to seek, and achieve, improvement.

I am reminded of a fabulous scene in the classic ‘Love Actually’ film between Rowan Atkinson and the late Alan Rickman: How much is that necklace there? (It’s only 3 mins. long and well worth watching ๐Ÿ™‚ )

A course can be ‘so much more than a bag’…but that depends on you.

The difference between…

tree+bookA short and, hopefully, light hearted post for you:

For those of you who have been on an improvement course with me you will know that I start off by saying that itย isn’t a training course, it is about education (with the same being true about this blog).

I use Deming’s quote of:

“We’re not here to learn skills; we’re here for education โ€“ to learn theory.”

If you are uncertain about the difference between training (learning skills) and education then I think Alfie Kohn (leading education psychologist) makes the distinction ย really clear with the following:

“Would you want your kids to be provided with Sex Training or Sex Education?”

…I don’t think I need to say anymore to explain that!