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Push or Pull? I'm talking about training


Push or Pull Training.


“Push or Pull?”


I’m not talking about flow. I am talking about the training.


Typically, when we talk about training, we think about “push” training. The teacher delivers the contents. It is mandatory. It happens at a fixed time. To some degree, traditional education is designed in such a way.


What about “pull” training? The trainee searches for a solution. It could happen at any time. There are some freedom and choices for the students. To some degree, “progressive education” is designed in such a way.


I am not an educator to discuss which is better. But as I design training programs, it is necessary to balance both to gain the most benefits.


And are we considering options?


I was sitting in corporate training on day three. The training was boring as hell. Why? Because this was the third consecutive day of exactly the same lecture. Day one was for the rookies. Day two was by product groups. Day three was by functionalities. So I was a rookie in a product group doing a function and was forced to take this training for three consecutive days. I complained to the organizers that I was taking the same lecture. They told me that repeating should deepen my understanding. Did I understand more by repeating the lecture? I learned how to ignore the lecture.


My experience was the worst. But in many ways, the traditional lectures have some fundamental problems similar to the push system.

  • The information provided might not be what the student wants. Without the interest of the student, the information will be ignored.

  • The information provided might be too much to process or understand.

  • There will be a gap between the information and the reality. Therefore, it might not connect.


To bridge the gap in the “Push” training, some thoughts in education respect “pull.” Progressive education aims to nourish the curiosity of the child. In high education, we have electives to choose from. Most people develop extensive knowledge of things they like, such as a hobby.


In TPS, there is a terminology called “Jishu-ken (自主研).” Jishuken can be translated as “Independent or self-motivated study group, ” meaning it was designed as a “Pull” activity. Some companies offer training programs that employees can sign up for.


So, in theory, “Pull” is better for training and development than “Push.” Then why we don’t see more “Pull” training? There are several reasons;

  • Most of us don’t know what we don’t know. When you know you need to learn some things, you will take some action. But there are things we don’t know. The “Pull” will not be created unless you know you need to learn. Today, we have the internet that has access to many things. But the algorithm of search engines and social media will skew towards specific topics.

  • What we want to learn and what we need to learn is different.

  • You might not look "Cool" to show that you are trying to learn something new. Fear of making a mistake prevents someone from learning new things.


To bridge this gap and balance the two, we must consider the third option, the “Fake pull.” In this “Fake pull” option, the coach will first show that new thinking exists. This is not by words but by action. As the coach performs the new thinking, the students are interested in that activity. When they are interested, the coach provides coaching on the subject. In such an environment, the coach is typically the direct boss who cautiously observes the students' behaviors, especially the sign of interest which could happen at any moment. The contents of training are pre-planned, yet no need to be a lot. Instead, one-point advice is better. It could be that the coach suggests attending some courses. But the final choice to attend belongs to the student. By creating such a “Fake pull” condition, we can reduce the negative aspects of a push while respecting the positive aspects of a pull.


Of course, the “Fake pull” is not perfect. “Fake pull” works best when there is a trusted relationship between the coach and the student. A “coach” can’t cover so many students. A coach could provide the wrong content.


In the end, to design a successful training system, we need to develop a system that balances all the dynamics of “Push,” “Pull,” and “Fake Pull.” At least today, it is dominated by “Push,” and we must depart from that.

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