Opinions Posted by David McDermott

“Mirror, mirror on the wall….”. The Wicked Queen in Snow White consulted her magic mirror when she wanted to know a truth.

Professor Marvel used a crystal ball to answer Dorothy’s questions in The Wizard of Oz.

Quite how reliable either of these methods is in establishing truths is somewhat debatable!

This month’s article explores what you should consider when making a key business decision.

With the football World Cup, Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and all the usual annual highlights, it’s going to be a bumper sporting year. Pubs, clubs, shops and offices will ring to a crescendo of opinion and argument.

Of course, almost all of it will be inaccurate. Expect the usual cocktail of uninformed conjecture and faulty analysis, topped off with some recycled punditry from the media’s self-appointed gurus. It’s just as well that our sports heroes and their management don’t rely on any of it.

But, sadly, something like this cocktail does underpin much of the training that industry and commerce commissions. For many buyers of skills training, it’s a leap of faith supported by anecdote and rumour. The number of providers, who claim to base their content on ‘research’, even though this could just be the designer reading a book or two about the topic, complicates the problem.

So, if you are going to hire a skills training provider, here’s a three-part question to ask: Are these ‘researched’ skills proven to improve performance; do they work in situations similar to ours; and who says so?

Are they proven? Effective content is derived from robust research conducted under a strict statistical regime that compares successful and unsuccessful outcomes to isolate the differences. Get this wrong or make easy conclusions based on anecdote and perceived wisdom and the training will not just fail, it risks being counter-productive.

Are they similar situations to ours? An easy short cut for the lazy developer of training is to transpose what might work in one market or organisational scenario to another. This has resulted, for example, in people in major account, B2B, business development being exhorted to use wholly ineffective ‘close the sale’ techniques that are only appropriate in ‘small ticket’ transactional markets.

Says who? If ‘research’ is quoted, did they conduct it or was it someone else? If the provider doesn’t own it, how can it be examined, challenged and validated? Worse still is the risk that clients buying training based on it are complicit in its unauthorised use and thus placing themselves in copyright jeopardy.

At edoMidas we are proud of the fact that our solutions are based on our own extensive research. For example, we derived our ‘5As of Management’ from a research base comprising a total of 5000 respondents. Our ‘Presenting to Win’ methodology has won client’s business from as far back as the early 90’s and, yes, we can prove it. We’ll happily talk you through it, especially if you’re hoping to develop your people’s skills this year.

So, don’t simply rely on what people down the pub or along the corridor have to say. As with their views on sport, they are likely to be passionate in their opinions, but a little short on evidence to back them up.

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