For many, this word has become a negative. For those who must go through it as well as those who must develop it, training is something more to be dreaded rather than something to be looked forward to. The goal of training is to acquire or develop the skill, knowledge, or experience of one who trains. If that is true, and I believe it is, then each training session should be a further development of the individual or team, shouldn’t it? So how does the trainer ensure that result? I believe the answer lies in what is called progression training. It’s also the answer to what your people will respond consistently and enthusiastically to and that is the development of their critical thinking skills. I’m assuming that continuous improvement is the goal and the pursuit of excellence should be the rule, so with that in mind let’s look at the training process and how to keep it fresh, fun, yet serious about growth at the same time. With any new employee, there is usually some kind of training program in effect that helps to initiate them into the workplace: what their job description is, what is expected of them, what will happen if they don’t reach those expectations, what the rules and regulations of the organization are, etc. It should be designed to provide a level of comfort to the employee, allow them to “see” their place in the organization and outline the boundaries in which they can grow. Now what? How do we achieve continued growth so we can realize the potential of all our employees? Can you utilize your training program to keep excellence as the standard for the organization? You can, through progression training, with critical thinking as its base. Excellence in any organization requires that the people in that organization are problem solvers, and the more problem solvers you have, the better chance you have to continually improve. We teach a critical thinking class and it is by far the most popular class we have. Engaging human beings brains to solve problems excites them. Playing games, doing puzzles, overcoming obstacles are all ways to get the brain engaged and training should also be one of those ways. So approach your training from a problem solving aspect. Write a procedure and the way you want your organization to handle that procedure then layer it, that is add problems to it. As an example, say you’re a fire department and you’re training on connecting to a hydrant so you can put water on a fire. Some of the problems that you could layer are a burst hose, a dry hydrant, a radio that doesn’t work, an engine that doesn’t pump, etc. Or you’re a hospital training on communications with the public, you can role play and add a hostile patient, an absent supervisor, a crowd of family members, etc. It is the layering, or what we call progression, that adds the excellence to it. If you want the entire organization to be engaged in training, layer it. From the newest to the most experienced, you can find ways to have them solve the problems associated with new and old procedures, and with dealing with each other. Most of all you can keep them engaged and pushing for what all organizations want to be known for -- excellence.