I became aware recently of a trend that appears to be the growing norm in corporate training. Most training these days seems to involve gifted, intelligent leaders putting their best thoughts into some sort of presentation and communicating how to do something to the audience. After a skilled trainer masters the basics of the content (s)he delivers, they are likely also to innovate and come up with new and sticky ways to communicate their target principles. The message gets better and better.
Or does it?
If the purpose of training is to bring another individual to a level of competence in any area, how can a trainer be sure that their content is actually being transferred? For training to bounce back and forth between instruction and innovation misses a key point in the process-imitation.
How can anyone be sure that the content is truly being transferred into a skill without a process of observed behaviors and feedback. A more productive model involves boots on the ground exercises using live ammunition in real life. This allows the one seeking to grow in competence by hearing the instruction, watching it applied, trying it out, and receiving valuable feedback and coaching. The best innovation occurs in this model, because the student and the leader can both engage in the dynamic of exploring better ways or methods in the context of a real situation. This can guard a culture from becoming eloquent in ineffective practices that sound great but do not truly build a competent leader.