Today’s post is a chapter called “Train! Train! Train!” from Tom Peters’ book Essentials: Leadership. This is a fabulous little book, absolutely stuffed full of wisdom and insight (and creative usage of fonts/punctuation) on how the world of work is changing. If you have any desire to future-proof your career, I hope you will go buy it and read it. Like, now.
In preparation for a speech to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), I discovered data that pegged the average annual hours in the classroom for the average American worker. The number: 26.3.
THAT IS THE MOST OBSCENE NUMBER I HAVE COME ACROSS IN A LONG, LONG, LONG TIME.
We live in an age of “intellectual capital” — and 75 percent to 90 percent of what we college-trained white-collar workers do will be usurped by a $239.00 microprocessor in the course of the next ten or so years. What are we doing to become … better and better … more valuable … and more valuable still? It sounds to me, based on the ASTD data, that we are spending a … full … six minutes a day working on improvement!
As I prepared for that ASTD speech, I turned lawyerly and kept a record of my own activities for three weeks in May 2001. I performed 41 hours of “work” — seminars ranging from an hour-anda-a-half to seven hours in length. Life being life, I devoted 17 hours to what can only be classified as “other” (mostly petty bullshit, which dogs us all). And my “training” (which is to say, preparation) time ran … 187 hours.
That is, the ratio of “training” to “work” for the average worker is 0.01. For me it was 4.67. Almost a 500-fold difference.
I’m not bragging. Not at all.
To the contrary, I believe that I am increasingly “normal” for a “creative-intensification worker.” For a group of people who we typically call “Talent.”
Think of “that word.” TALENT. Think of its exemplars. Think about … TRAINING. Can you imagine 26.3 hours … per year … for a … diva … violinist … sprinter … golfer … pilot … soldier … surgeon … astronaut?
OF COURSE YOU CAN’T.
Why is it?
Why is it … that divas do it, violinists do it, sprinters do it, golfers do it, pilots do it, soldiers do it, surgeons do it, astronauts do it … and only “businesspeople” don’t seem to think it’s necessary?
I think it’s a disgrace, which is one thing. (ONE BIG THING.) I think it is going to catch up with us — as individuals and enterprises — which is far more important.
P.S. Of course, Tom doesn’t mention Tiger Woods here, but I thought it personalized our topic in a clear way. I can’t think of many things more ludicrous than picturing Tiger on the greens for six minutes a day and then expecting to win the Masters. So why do we do this in business? Particularly with our senior leaders?
Please pick up this book. You’ll be glad you did.