Recently, I came across this story that I found to be especially relevant to how training and other educational programs are viewed. In addition to being rather humorous, I think it fittingly describes the actions and attitudes that often cause our biggest training difficulties.
Common advice from knowledgeable horse trainers include the adage, “if the horse you’re riding dies, get off.” Seems simple enough, yet, in the education business we don’t always follow that advice. Instead, we often choose from an array of other alternatives which include:
- Buying a stronger whip.
- Moving the horse to a new location.
- Riding the horse for longer periods of time.
- Appointing a committee to study the horse.
- Increase the standards for riding dead horses.
- Arranging to visit other sites where they ride dead horses more effectively.
- Saying things like, ” This is the way we’ve always ridden this horse.”
- Complaining about the state of horses these days.
- Comparing how we’re riding now with how we did ten or twenty years ago.
- Slamming the horse’s parents. The problem is often in the breeding.
Why is it so difficult for us to recognize when our training initiatives have stopped working. Not every idea will work, and very few ideas will work forever. Trying to maximize return on investment through a training program that isn’t functional is an exercise in futility and will really only serve to minimize participant engagement and buy-in.