People Don’t Just Want Tools

drill photo
Photo by Samuel M. Livingston

Saw an article the other day that reminded me of something I rediscover with every training class.

“I teach my people on day one…’People don’t want drills, they want holes.’”

There’s something very profound in that statement. The reality that “most” people don’t buy tools, or technology, just because they want the technology. They buy it to help them accomplish something. Technology training, then, becomes much less about what the tool does and more about getting the hole you wanted in the first place.

It can be tempting in a training class to make sure you cover all of the options. If you’re teaching someone Word, for example, it can be tempting to go through each menu and talk about what each item on the menu does, and move on to the next menu and do the same, all while losing the point of why someone wants to use Word in the first place.

Frankly, a training class that simple went through the features of a tool, in order, would bore the heck out of me.

Don’t teach me everything the tool does, understand what I am trying to accomplish with it and show me how to do that! Take the time to be in my shoes, and understand my pain points, and then teach me how this new tool can be used to eliminate those pain points and get me to my end result.

When I’m doing a custom training class with a new customer, one of the first things I do is get in touch with them and ask about what they do now, and what they are trying to accomplish. With that information, I can create a class that fits with what they need, that teaches them to get where they are trying to go using that tool. Sure, I might run out of time and not explain every single feature, but that’s OK. It’s highly likely they aren’t at a point where they would use that feature anyway, and I leave them with plenty of documentation to help them understand anything that we didn’t specifically cover when the time comes that they want to start looking at some of those other options. The important thing, is that they know how to get where they are headed.

Now if they bought a tool and don’t know what they are trying to accomplish with it, that presents a whole lot of other problems, but that’s a post for another day. I’m sure some of you have seen projects like that, right? 😉


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