Edele Gormley

The Hidden Costs of Training

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Let’s talk a little about progress. You’ve probably heard the famous quote from the 1970s:

There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home. – Ken Olsen, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) 1977

Now we all know how wrong this quote now is, but let’s actually look at the progress that has been made over the last 50 years.

Back in 1970, an IBM mainframe computer cost $4.6 million, ran at a speed of 2.5MHz, and had a whopping 500 KB of RAM. It was also the size of a decent room, and to use it for computation, you’d have to book time on it in advance, then make sure everyone makes it to the appointment on time. Want to make any adjustments to your calculations? Sorry! You’ll need to book another slot and come back in a couple of weeks.

Right now I’m holding an Apple iPad Pro, which set me back less than €400 and runs at about 2.38GHz (that’s 864 times faster than IBM’s System/370 Model 145 mainframe from 1970) with 4GB of RAM. With this little, handheld slate, I’m empowered to do so much more, including productive work on my business and my career, without needing to leave my sofa.

But it’s not just computers that have seen progress over the years. The Scrum Alliance was only founded in 2001 - so the popular Agile certifications like CSM® (Certified ScrumMaster®) and CSPO® (Certified Scrum Product Owner®) didn’t even exist 20 years ago! These courses are extremely popular today - each costing between €1,100 to €2,000 per person for a two-day course. On top of that, participants may also have travel, accommodation and sustenance costs, making a two-day course quickly become quite expensive and inaccessible to private persons and small businesses. In addition, public training courses don’t tend to allow you to personalise the course for your context, which can often result in participants returning to the workplace with no idea where to start applying their new-found knowledge.

Of course, the hidden cost on top of this is personal time - and I can’t imagine anything more important than that. For some, taking a few days away from kids, pets, or ailing elderly relatives isn’t an option, especially if someone must be found or hired to take on the task of looking after said parties for the duration of the trip. How many employers will cover that cost? I’ve worked for employers who expected me to travel during the weekend so I’d be “onsite” first thing on a Monday. Of course, I knew travel was part of the job when I accepted the offer, and I was excited to travel, but I soon realised that only being in a new city for 2-3 days, with the majority of that time spent working or training, I didn’t get to experience much outside of work. Plus, not many tourist attractions or museums open late during the week! And who really sleeps well in a budget hotel, anyway?

Consider, then applying the iPad - or Netflix - treatment to your career development. With Netflix, you can watch a film, on demand, without leaving the house or waiting for a DVD to be delivered, in your pyjamas. If your child wakes up, or you need to answer a phonecall, you can pause the film and pick it back up later. You certainly won’t get that in a cinema! I’ve even seen people on the train here in Berlin watching Stranger Things on their phone. And why not? Fit in what you want to watch, when you have time to watch it.

So why, then, wait for your manager to approve your request to attend a training course, when the training can come to you through the great technology we already have? Why miss out on family time to travel to a training course, staying in an unfamiliar hotel bed, when that information is so much easier to transport to you? And if you have some downtime, such as a 15-minute train ride on your morning commute, why not fit some learning in to help prepare you for the challenges that today will bring? With Agile with Edele, I want to give the opportunity to take control of your own career development. The learning fits around your lifestyle, at your own pace, leaving more time free for you to do the real important things in life.

If you watched a video last night but were feeling a little tired, simply go back and watch it again. If that important phone call comes in, you’re not missing valuable course content while you deal with it. And then there’s knowledge sharing: when someone returns from a training course, are they sharing their new knowledge with the rest of the team, or is it business-as-usual? Wouldn’t the return on investment be much higher if everyone could have done the same course, with no concerns about costs (hidden or otherwise)? Being in control of which lessons you choose to take lets you personalise your learning to your own situation.

And the cost? If management reject your request to go on a training course for several thousand Euros, you’re kind of out of luck. Very few of us can afford to throw that kind of change around. One of our guiding principles at Agile with Edele is to make sure a subscription is affordable to you, personally. Because your own personal career development should be in your control, not at the whims of some budget. And for that, I’ve got your back.