Imagine that you’re new in town and about to walk into a recommended doctor’s office for a checkup. You’re inclined to trust the doctor; after all, their coat is white and their stethoscope is shiny. You casually inquire about the scope, and they proudly reveal that it was a graduation present after medical school – 25 years ago. The doctor adds that there’s no need to keep up with “modern“ medicine or attend “time-wasting” conferences. Rather, the focus has been on meeting patients for 25 years. “Isn’t there some sort of continuing education requirement?” you ask sheepishly. “Not in this state” they reply with relief, as you slowly back out of the tiny exam room to bolt.
Fortunately, there ARE continuing education requirements for medical doctors, since “The medical field is constantly changing and evolving with new technologies, practices, and innovations.”
Why is it that many businesses act as if education is nice to have but optional?
Why do they invest so little time and resources?
In the 1990s’ General Electric followed Motorola in adopting Six Sigma practices and education. Eventually, GE invested over $1 billion in training, and expected all employees to be green belt certified while senior members became black belt certified. As a former GE employee, I can attest that Six Sigma certification was both a badge of honor and a topic which elicited groans. Making time to study as well as allocate project-based learning time was a challenge not universally appreciated.
Fast forward over a decade to 2008, the financial crisis, when GE has already reduced focus on training after Jack Welch’s tenure ended. Jeff Immelt changed GE’s focus from learning Six Sigma to “Simplification.”
We can’t blame this change in focus alone for the fall from glory, removal from the Dow Jones and being split into smaller units. But, we can say with certainty that the culture of learning created under Jack Welch was much more financially successful than the culture of simplification under Jeff Immelt.
I see training as an investment in the future of your organization, and your organization’s long-term success will directly hinge on your investment.