Anyone else kind of dreading the amount of “stuff” that will move into our living spaces this holiday season? Giving and receiving gifts is lovely and joyful, but for me personally, the idea of owning more stuff is genuinely stressful. For the past six months I’ve been pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle because I’m tired of feeling owned by all my stuff. After recently reading Francine Jay’s book, The Joy of Less, and freeing up my own personal space and time, I started wondering how these minimalist principles might apply to corporate training environments, because this is the fun kind of stuff I think about in my free time, apparently.
In Jay’s The Joy of Less, she offers up a long acronym to help you reduce your stuff and reclaim your space: STREAMLINE. Catchy, right? Here’s a closer look at the steps involved in STREAMLINE: Start over, Trash/Treasure/Transfer, Reason for each item, Everything in its place, All surfaces clear, Modules, Limits, If one comes in—one goes out, Narrow it down, and Everyday maintenance.
In the interest of time and space and personal sanity, let’s also be minimalists in our approach to achieving a minimalist training lifestyle. The most valuable tips in STREAMLINE are S, T, R, and I. Ignore M, even though Modules are such a classic training word it kind of hurts to leave it behind. So how can we apply these principles to your training environment?
It’s fairly shocking that anyone would actually do what Jay recommends in her book: remove every single item from a room in your house, so that the room is entirely empty. The idea here is that you are starting over and your empty living room is now a blank canvas, and you have to sort through every book and DVD and pen cap and actively choose to put it back in the room.
As daunting as this first step may seem, let’s do it. Are you fully aware of all the training your company has out there? Pull out all the dusty binders, legacy e-learning modules, and ILT syllabi and gather them in one place so you can accurately assess the lay of the land. This doesn’t just involve you gathering stuff you know about. Put the call out to your colleagues to turn out their drawers and drives and locate all the training that might be out there, somewhere, asking a learner to die a slow death by waiting for audio to complete before clicking next to continue.
But really, just trash stuff. This step is all about reduction. Pull out every single piece of training that is outdated, never used, gets terrible learner feedback, or smells like an old library. I don't care how much you spent on it when it was new, or if you think someone might need it two years from now. Get rid of any training that isn’t currently used and well-received by your learners. Also, get rid of contracts and licenses that are pigeon-holing you into one type of training. Are you stuck building in a rapid development tool because someone decided three years ago to buy licenses, even though nobody likes the courses it produces? Trash it.
REASON FOR EACH ITEM
Now, you’re left with all the training you think is worth keeping. But your gut feeling isn’t enough reason to hold on to training; we need real reasons. Real reasons why every single item is being kept in the curriculum or LMS. And here’s the kicker: your reason cannot be “because this is how it’s always been done.” Legacy training kept around because of historical decisions and processes isn’t just cluttering up your training environment—it can negatively influence the development of new, fresh training ideas and methodologies. Legacy training haunts us, and ghosts hate creativity and progress.
IF ONE COMES IN, ONE GOES OUT
You’ve reduced your training to only the best, most impactful learning experiences. This likely has produced noticeable holes or gaps in your training, spaces where you’ll need some new stuff. That’s cool, that’s good, that’s where we come in! But you need to be mindful of repopulating your training environment with a bunch of shiny new training without constantly curating your collection. More isn’t always better.
Crack down on all of your junk training. Take the month of December to reduce the amount of bad and legacy training you have, establish a base of training you love, and then begin to build on that base to ensure you are curating an environment of impactful, effective training that will help you and your learners focus on the important things.