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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive

October 18, 2006

How Many Licks Get You Through Corporate Training?


“Pay attention, everyone! This is a very important part of your training.”


I was taking notes. “Why training is really, really dumb. By D.F. Krause.”


“All right,” intoned the trainer. “Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to get their eyes off their computers and on the screen where my training presentation is being shown. It’s training! It’s very important!”


I looked around to see which of the other corporate schleps had been caught with their computers open. Oh. None. Just me. So everyone, and he meant everyone, actually meant your humble columnist.


The trainer gave me an additional glare for good measure. I gave him a big thumbs-up. He appeared to have no idea what this meant. That made two of us. It just seemed less likely to land me in the corporate woodshed than the finger I wanted to use.


The training session continued:


“You will note that the information contained in Field C relates to the scenarios referenced in Scenario 39 in your handbook,” the trainer said. Or maybe he said, “Never explain how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.”


He said something. Don’t ask me what. I wasn’t paying that much attention. He could have told us to press the 7 key to electrocute customers and I would have merely blacked in the little circle indicating, yes, I heard that part. On to Mod 7.


I have a theory about corporate training. Would you like to hear it? Of course you would.


In the corporate world, “training” is a euphemism for “Don’t blame me if these dweebs don’t know what they’re doing. I had them looking at Power Points for days on end.”


At my first journalism job, I arrived on my first day and was told to contact six top officials in a community I had never even visited and ask them very tough questions. My editor said, “This is baptism by fire.”


Beautiful. Those who can’t be taught, do. I called the people. I asked the questions. I wrote the stories. Did I have the slightest idea what I was doing? Probably not, although I felt my way through it OK. Baptism by fire was awesome training. If my stories had been crap, no one would have cared when I said, “But I successfully completed training!


Corporate training is the opposite of baptism by fire. It’s more like a tumble in the spin cycle with water and bleach. It’s everything we can possibly think of to tell you – more than you’ll ever need. More than you can possibly remember. More than you can possibly stay awake through.


In corporatese, they call this a “brain dump.” There are actually middle-management types who think they sound cool when they use that expression. When I inflict a brain dump on you, I am at my most cruel. It means that I am going to tell you everything I know. But that is only the start. I am also going to tell you some stuff I only think is true. Then we will do a quick bathroom break.


When we return, I am going to tell you a bunch of stuff that I know is not true, but it’s widely accepted as plausible in corporate circles. You are not fully trained unless you think it’s fact as well. If you leave your company-issued computer on during the night, tiny insects get inside your hard drive and install files that send porn e-mails to the director of corporate security. IT swears it’s true. Now you know. You’re trained.


Finally, I am just going to make a bunch of stuff up, and expect you to remember it. Keep in mind, because I am just making this stuff up, I myself will not remember it for the purpose of reminding you if you forget.


“Peckinspaugh! What did I tell you during the afternoon session?”


“Our distributors in Micronesia are hermaphrodites, Sir!”


Very good, Peckinspaugh. Sounds like something I probably might have said. Especially in the afternoon session. By that time, I’m pretty punchy.

While all this is going on, some dork who figured out a way to avoid the big corporate training session is horning in on all the trainees’ accounts. How will he service them without having gone through Mod 7, reviewed Scenario 39 or read the information in Field C?


I guess he’ll just have to give all the clients Tootsie Pops. Baptism by fire. Not for the meek. Nor for the trained.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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