Perishable Learning

You can’t change process without changing people…

 Stan was excited about the new software upgrade that promised to cut his processing time by 20%!  He purchased the programs and the training package that was included.

  • Week one the materials arrived, the software was loaded and the leader with training background began to learn the new system.
  • Week two the employees went through several days of demonstration to learn the new processes.  Their response was positive, and they were eager to see if their results really improved.
  • On weeks three and four an unexpected competitor-offer required a marketing and campaign response that took all resources off the software project for two weeks.
  • During week six the software testing was finally finished, and on week seven the employees began using the software

The software worked as promised, and at first, employees were excited to finally start using it.  But user-errors stalled productivity and leaders were quickly overwhelmed by employee questions and the escalated customer complaints.  Eventually most employees overcame the learning curve and the errors reduced, but for a few months leaders found discouraged employees trying to use the old system because they were afraid of repeating the mess that was made during the first weeks of the new program. 

Several months later Stan realized his positive results, but he questioned how he could have avoided some of the cost and pain involved in getting those results.

 Reality: Complex learning perishes quickly unless it is applied immediately and repeatedly.


  • Include practice time with feedback in the training sessions when possible
  • Include three types of learning experiences in the training: audio, visual and hands-on
  • Train the leaders so they can coach as employees begin to apply learning with real customers
  • Create training materials that can be used for refresher or reference if application opportunities are sporadic or seasonal