The twenty-something trainer with the exuberant and bubbly personality bounces at the podium. He is spouting the latest framework and management buzzwords to a rapt audience. The materials are flawless and the theory makes a ton of sense. From the back of the room comes the killer question: “So I get the framework, but how does it actually apply to the work I do every day?”
The trainer struggles to articulate a single instance of how he’s used the framework in day to day work environments. Why? Because he never has—his entire career to date has been spent behind that podium.
Enter “The Practitioner”
There is a rare breed of instructor out there known as “the practitioner.” She has been classically trained on fundamental frameworks, methodologies, theories and tools. She’s applied those concepts and tools in real world business situations. Her resume is a testaments to the impact she’s had: bottom line savings; reorganizations; strategic plans and step-change business improvement.
She drives change in her companies. She is so valuable to the team she leads that she spends her career moving into positions of increasing responsibility. Unfortunately, she is one of a just a few who are given a chance to train the next generation of leaders because the rest of the practitioners are too busy “doing their day jobs.”
One organization that clearly “gets it” when it comes to using practitioners as trainers is the U.S. Army. Almost every Army service school is staffed by experienced soldiers who not only know the theory but have applied it in actual field situations. They can vividly articulate how theory applies to the real world, which aids student comprehension and retention of the materials (not to mention making it more interesting to listen to in class).
Practitioners exist in business as well. Arguably, these individuals are the best source of training cadre a company could ask for. Their combination of deep understanding of frameworks, practices and theories and how they apply in the real world is an untapped resource that many companies fail to utilize. The challenge is how to free them up from their daily responsibilities to enable them to train people. This leaves companies with three options: Read more