By Jeff Scott
One of our processes here at LexisNexis, for both me and my manager is to complete yearly evaluations of my performance and assign new challenges for the upcoming year. As I have been with Lexis for more years than I have fingers on my hands (and I am beginning to run out of toes as well), I like to believe that I have been successful more times than not at meeting these new challenges.
This year, I was asked to come up with some new ideas where to take training into the future.
In terms of predicting future training needs, there is no shortage of tools. In the past year, I have participated in courses put on by ASTD® and Pragmatic Marketing® among others, monitored trade forums and publications, and shared discussions with my colleagues and contemporaries. Lexis is pretty good at keeping their employees on top of the game.
But with regards to taking training into the future, these sources tend to do what most people do….they disagree. It is not as if everybody is right or everybody is wrong, it is more like a court of law, where there is a bit of truth in everything that is said. It becomes a matter of interpretation.
Our training has morphed as the years gone by. In my early days with PCLaw, training was a single person at legal trade shows. We have since grown to offer recorded OnDemand Training accessible anytime and needing only an Internet connection. We have Virtual training, delivered online with a live instructor, classroom based training, certifications, and one on one sessions with instructors. We have LexisNexis University, where our clients can access training for all the products their law firms may use, such as Time Matters, Juris, and InterAction. And we have a far larger quantity of training offerings than we ever had. But as everyone knows, if you are not moving forward, you are moving back, and our accomplishments yesterday, however substantial, does not solve tomorrow’s quest.
So at the end of a Wednesday workday, as I stared out at the dreary grey sky, wondering if the temperature would ever rise about -17 C again (It is wonderful living in Canada), I pondered this question and sketched out some ideas. Some of these ideas, I may revisit and develop, others may never get past the contemptuous smile stage. Anyhow, this is what I came up with:
This is perhaps the safest and most conservative approach. Do our current training offerings have all the content they need, should PCLaw delve more into Template Editor, or Juris into billing techniques? There can always be more training, and each year as I create lessons for new product features, I always try to sneak additional topics into the mix. But there is a saturation point, and each new lesson added to a suite of lessons has diminishing returns. So yes, continue identifying and filling in possible gaps, but content by itself is not the vehicle for meeting training’s future needs.
Technology for many seems to be the answer whatever the question is, and for the majority, it is no longer a desktop world. People want to access training from anywhere, including on their tablet or smart phone. Admittedly, I was a late comer to the mobile phone world, though I can’t imagine life without it now, but when it comes to watching online training, I am still old fashioned. I want my big ol’ 24” monitor, the high back desk chair that reclines, putting my feet on my desk, an imaginary bowl of popcorn on my lap, giant headphones on my ears, and just go to town.
Most of our training offerings are 3-5 minutes long. Would I want to stare at a smart phone for that long? Or when it comes to mobile training, are we talking about something completely different?
I am slowly slipping into the older generation. Many in our target audience were raised with MTV, video games, and tightly edited TV ads. They don’t know where Gilligan’s Island is located, or listened to a song on an 8 track tape player. They are looking for a quick fix, a Wiki synopsis of events. This is the problem, here’s the solution. Type this here, click that, select from the menu, and whatever you do, NEVER CLICK THE RED BUTTON. 15 to 30 seconds bursts, with the next solution arising only when the next problem occurs. Needless to say, an approach like this requires a total restructuring of training as we know it. Is the demand large enough to justify the investment?
There is an old wisdom, the easier something is to get at, the more it will be get at. OK, so I just made that up, but the question remains, can we get training closer to our client’s fingertips? Within BLSS training, we already toyed with placing training links inside help files, but what about on the data entry screen itself, placing a training icon adjacent the question mark that opens help. The first impediment here is the number of stakeholders, developers, product managers, QA, and they are different for the different products. But in a perfect world…..
The question of how training is delivered is not new, and for certain some clients prefer live instructors, some can travel to training, others cannot leave their office. Some can only seek training in their spare time, so convenience is a prime factor. Some of our training already has multiple delivery methods, PCLaw and Time Matters for instance. CounselLink for the longest time, was instructor only, but a major effort has been in place in 2013 and 2014 to put together a comprehensive and detailed series of OnDemand training for both the corporation and the law firm. And the same must be asked for our other supported products.
When one of our clients undertakes a training course, we naturally want to know the impetus behind it. Is it the need to know; is it an imperative from the boss? Are there clients out there who can use our training to better their job situation, be it improving their position within their firm, or secure employment with a new firm? Would some sort of certification program be of use, be it instructor led, or OnDemand, for PCLaw, Time Matters, Juris, that verifies the client as a power user, adept at manipulating the software to its full advantage? Would such a certification be of use to a potential employer?