Why training may not always be the right course of action – part 3

Why training may not always be the right course of action

In part 2 we questioned why people do not get things right first time, every time, and examined 6 prime factors that prevent them from performing to the necessary standard. Now we’re going to see how human error is explained by humans.

Human error as explained by humans

We don’t get things right first time every time because we are human beings, and prone to error.

If we look more closely at the human behaviours that result in errors, we can try to further classify them. We might conclude that certain types of behaviour result in certain types of error. Then we can take the most effective counter-measures to make those errors less frequent or less damaging.

If we could listen in to the things people typically say when things have gone wrong, we’d get a strong clue as to the type of behaviour we might be dealing with. Here are 2 dozen “explanations” we’ve come across. As you read them, ask yourself of each one, “Can it be rectified through training alone?”

Do you think this can be resolved through training alone?




1)      There’s never been a problem in the past    
2)      If I had to put that amount of care and effort into it every time…    
3)      We always used to…    
4)      I’ve not done it very much    
5)      So I went and…    
6)      I just didn’t notice…    
7)      That’s not how I was taught…    
8)      I forgot    
9)      They gave me the wrong information    
10)   I’ve never been any good with numbers    
11)   I only looked away for a moment or two    
12)   I’ve never done it that way before    
13)   It was too heavy    
14)   I thought…    
15)   Something got in my way    
16)   It was too big    
17)   It was too fast    
18)   But it’s never caused any problems in the past    
19)   I’ve always done it this way    
20)   There were just too many of them    
21)   Who could have predicted that?    
22)   It just didn’t feel right    
23)   I’ve always been OK up to now    
24)   What’s the likelihood of that ever happening to me?    

One reason for mistakes is when sticking to the familiar plan results in an unintended outcome. Either the original plan was wrong, or it was followed in the wrong circumstances. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer buys a new Alpine Mill with which to grind materials to powder. An operator is off sick when the training is done. She returns to work and operates the system using an old start-up procedure that she learned on a previous system. As a result, a batch of drugs is contaminated and a whole shift is lost followed by time spent in stripping, cleaning and restoring the machinery.

That is the end of Part 3. In Part 4 we’ll look at some contrasting aids to memory.

About Phil Green

Phil Green has written 84 post in this blog.

Phil identifies himself as a perfomance consultant and teacher who helps people and organisations to do the best they can at work. He has strong skills in designing learning materials and workflow support, and draws from a wide spectrum of methods and technology. Co-designer of a certificated qualification in blended learning, he has trained hundreds of others from many industry sectors in how to create effective learning solutions, both online and offline.

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