Are You Accountable for Your Learning?

“I don't care if you create the best training in the world.  If it doesn't change behavior, it doesn't do me any good.”

These words were spoken to me by an executive vice president at an undisclosed company.  I wanted to argue that if the training was the “best in the world,” it would actually be designed to change behavior and would undoubtedly cost more to create and evaluate than he was willing to fund (which, by the way, was $0).

The comment got me thinking, though.  How many of us expect to have a learning path handed to us and be told “This is what you need to do and how you need to do it?"  If you check off the boxes, will you be successful?  I doubt it.

On the other hand, how many of us spend time researching topics that interest us, engaging in communities at work or on the web around those topics, and explore options that will allow us to continually expand our knowledge.  What is it that makes this person completely different from the person who wants the checklist?  And, perhaps more importantly, how can we encourage or enable the checklist person to be more of an explorer?  Further, are there characteristics of each that should be emulated?

I am convinced that learning does not have to take place in a classroom.  There are a variety of sources – free seminars (or webinars), social networking sites, interest groups at work, programs through professional organizations, blogs, etc. - that will allow us to learn and develop as individuals, co-workers and general human beings.  We as individuals, though, need to be responsible and accountable for our learning.  Yes, a classroom may be appropriate for some things.  Heck, even a checklist is appropriate at times.

Challenge yourself to be responsible for your learning and accountable to yourself for expanding your knowledge.  My bet is that you'll be more engaged in what you're doing and more valuable to your employer.  Yes, we may be able to create the best training in the world, but it's up to each individual to consume and internalize what's out there.


Nice post, I could not agree more with this.

From personal experience, I have learned more from reading books, following folks in social networking, talking to folks, clicking around on the web, than in any training course that I was told to attend.

There is only one person responsible for your development, and that is yourself. Even if your manager is not supportive, you can still be commited to self learning, all it takes is a bit of your time, maybe away from the sitcoms you are watching (

Posted by Marc Dierens on August 27, 2008 at 01:55 AM MDT #

I totally agree too. No matter how we struggle, as 'developers of great learnings', it is the individual who chooses to learn from their own circumstances and surroundings that moves ahead most quickly. I LOVE the attitudes from those who believe they are 'entitled' to classes, and then are passive participants too!

Great posts Sandy!!! I'm enjoying the read...and getting all fired up again about my training development days...and for my colleagues still working in training development.

Posted by Ashley Rice on September 03, 2008 at 03:08 PM MDT #

Marc, thanks so much. I tend to learn better in the ways you describe as well. The part I find difficult is motivating others to care about their development, sometimes in spite of their managers! I guess that's another post! :)

Ashley, good to see you here! Hopefully I can keep you coming back for more!!

Posted by Sandra Elvington on September 05, 2008 at 09:18 AM MDT #

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Sandy's ideas about learning, organizational & personal improvement and other stuff.

I work on Oracle's Leadership Development team, but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own!


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