HP Training Manager: How to Turn Training Seen as “Cost” into Training Seen as “Investment” (Interview)

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    VS Girish Kumar is the Center Training Manager in Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Training and Knowledge Management department. He is responsible for being a change catalyst by managing new hire on-boarding and training, managing content from knowledge transfer to business-as-usual, and developing a road-map for knowledge management towards maturity. You can contact Kumar directly via Linkedin.

    Q. Kumar, from your perspective, could you describe some of the common challenges that you and other training organizations face today?

    There are a couple of challenges that every training organization faces:

    • Ensuring that training organizations are looked upon as COE (Center of Excellence) or strategic & investment centers rather than mere support/cost centers.
    • Aligning with operational teams and working with them to bridge the gap between short-term and long-term objectives. Although training people always think in the long term, business leaders typically—not to stereotype—focus on today and give less important to the future.

    Q. How can a training organization that is perceived as a “cost” begin to be perceived as an “investment?”

    Earlier the challenge was limited to the perception of “value-adds.” In other words, training organizations were created to enable operations, to add value to operations. Now—slowly and steadily—the expectations are to ensure that training creates process capability and becomes a COE from the perspective of learning innovation. With this approach, knowledge can be used as a single and deadly weapon to achieve market competitiveness.

    Q. How is this shift from value-adds to market competitiveness happening?

    Tools like Camtasia, Captivate, and Epiplex would remove the requirement of SME intervention in delivering training. Quite soon, training organizations need to understand the important of managing their biggest asset: knowledge. Organizations will need to move into the knowledge management arena.

    Q. With such trends, what might 21st-century training and development look like?

    Learning 2.0 will definitely bring significant changes in the way we look at training delivery and knowledge transfer today. It would be interesting to see how these tools impact behavior-related training. This is yet to be seen.

    Ten years from now, organizational learning would be driven primarily by a country’s education system. There are a lot of reforms, and new studies are being recognized by educational institutions worldwide. I believe that apart from Learning 2.0—which is here to stay—a lot would depend on the fundamental learning process which happens during high school and graduation. This will set the course for organizational learning.

    Q. Very interesting—perhaps educational institutions will function as models for training organizations. Speaking of Learning 2.0, could you share some thoughts on collaborative learning and social learning?

    Collaborative learning is possible for like-minded people and is useful for results-driven learning. It is possible only when there is trust among group members. Also, this kind of learning can be well planned in advance by creating interdependence.

    Social learning is more towards behavioral and perceptional change. Having role models and imitating strong leaders comes to my mind when I think about social learning. Also, this type of learning is more real-time and ongoing.

    Q, Another big buzzword related to Learning 2.0 seems to be “informal learning.” What is it, and who is responsible for the informal learning process?

    Informal learning starts from the very beginning, when we start learning manners at home, in our communities, and so on. This helps you to become a much better social person. Informal learning is a very natural process and it happens all the time until you become closed to new things in life.

    You yourself would be responsible for informal learning.

    Q. Thanks for making the time to share with our readers, Kumar. I think this would be a good place to wrap up. My last question: could you recommend some literature for our readers?

    APQC website, ASTD website and magazine, and some forums on Linkedin and Yahoo. Books, I’d recommend Gagne’s book on Instructional Design, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Quick and Effective Way to Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie.

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