Time is money.
After seeing the movie Interstellar, I was intrigued by the concept of time and the powerful role it plays in astrophysics, not that I understand much of it. While not as mind-blowing as the influence of time on the nature of the cosmos, in our little universe, time plays a huge role in what we do. If we don’t put time in the right perspective, we may soon be out of time to make an impact. Time for 10 timely ideas!
1. It’s not about how much information is out there; it’s about how fast it’s changing.
If it was just the overall growth of knowledge, we might be able to handle it—maybe. But the bigger issue is that the “half-life” of knowledge, the time it takes for half the knowledge to become unusable, is shrinking. Increasing amounts of information that may have been valuable for several years may now only be useful for a few months. Managing information shelf life is the challenge.
2. It’s not about how much time it takes to create and publish good content; it’s about how much time it takes to find it.
There is no question that it takes time to create and make content available to all who need it. But if it takes too long to find it, the value of that knowledge takes a big hit. Studies show that it can take knowledge workers as much as 25% of their day just finding information. We don’t have to decrease that time very much to have a considerable impact on productivity.
3. It’s not about how much time it takes to learn; it’s about how much time it takes to unlearn and relearn.
Alvin Toffler, of Future Shock fame, noted that success comes not just from learning, but also from unlearning and relearning. How much time does it take you, or your organization to change direction, reject old ways, and learn new things? This is speed of adaptability, and in a successful enterprise it applies as much to learning as it does to anything else.
4. It’s not about training time; it’s about time to proficiency.
Forget how much time it takes to train someone and think more about how long it takes someone to become proficient. This would include real work experience, informal learning, and other approaches that are—unfortunately—not generally calculated into “training time.” It may take three weeks to train a new worker, but many more months for that worker to really perform.
5. It’s not about development time; it’s about delivery time.
Sure it takes time to develop a good learning program, and even more time to develop solid eLearning. But these costs pale in comparison to delivery costs. By shortening delivery time, not only are costs (including costs of being away from the job) reduced, but also needed knowledge gets to all who need it quicker. This is the real business case for eLearning.
6. It’s not about how much time you present content; it’s about how much time you exercise and evaluate the learner.
We are learning more and more that exercise and evaluation, with good corrective feedback along the way both during and after a learning program, may have more learning value than the original instruction. Building more exercise and evaluation time into training pays off in greater training efficiency and a reduction of the need to “retrain.”
7. It’s not about how much time training takes; it’s about how much time training saves.
A no-brainer here. Would you rather have a too-short training program that costs less but results in little or no increase in performance, or a longer program that has better results in the field? Shorter training programs make sense only if they still get the job done. Keep in mind the significant consequences of sending unprepared people to jobs, having them make mistakes, and then bringing them back to do it all over again. That’s costly.
8. It’s not about spending more time in training; it’s about spending less time.
Pioneering performance engineer Tom Gilbert once said, “There is a superstitious belief that if a little training is good, more must be better.” Training costs lots of time and money to create and deliver, but the time allocated for employees to be away from the job (lost productivity) costs even more. If there are better, more efficient workplace solutions to augment or reduce some training, use them.
9. It’s not about how much time you get to sit at “the table;” it’s how much time others at the table listen to you.
We all want a seat at the table. A noble desire, and the more time we spend with those who make key decisions, the better. But a better measure is how much time those executives listen to you, how engaged they are in the discussion, and how much they look to you to lead them to a solution. Being there means little if you are not engaged with them, and they with you.
10. It’s not about how much time you spend pitching your ideas to executives; it’s how much time they spend pitching your ideas to others.
Even a better test with executives is not just that they listened to you; that’s a good start. But if they now go out and evangelize your proposal; if they use their considerable influence to help you get going, that’s the prize. Don’t worry about your time in the spotlight. Instead, delight that they are taking time to spotlight your ideas.
Some of these shifts are strategic while others are tactical. Some are important to the business, while others are important just to you and your organization. But none can be ignored. If you are looking for a way to make a compelling business case for any training or performance improvement initiative, there are few better arguments you can make than effectively leveraging time. The eLearning Guild’s DevLearn 2014 keynoter, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson would be proud.