Monday, February 26, 2007

Too much training

Scotland were heavily defeated by Italy in the six nations rugby union on Saturday. Scotland had a disastrous start with Italy intercepting three times (a chip-over kick, pop-pass and long pass) in the first 7 minutes, scoring tries each time.

I'm no expert on rugby, but it looked to me that Scotland had been practicing the maneuvers, but in training had no opposition. This was later said by one of the commentators at the BBC.

I think parallels can be made with industrial settings. We know training is important, but often fail to provide the right training. This case highlights that whilst skills are important, the training programme can back fire if people are not able to make the correct decisions about which skills to use and when. In at least two of the three cases (chip kick and long pass) it is an obvious risk that an interception is possible. What Scotland failed to do was consider whether the risk was worthwhile. If they were close to Italy's try, it probably would be as they had a good chance of scoring points and would have more chance of recovering from an interception before Italy scored. As they were close to their own, the benefit was much less and risk much higher.

This is one area where companies get it wrong with simulators. They ask for 'high fidelity' versions that allow people to gain skills in operating the plant. Unfortunately the complexity and cost of these simulators means that more time is spent gaining skill, leaving relatively little time to practice decision making. Conversely 'low fidelity' simulators do not provide the opportunity to gain skills in operating plant, but this leaves a lot more time on practicing decision making, problem solving etc.

Andy Brazier

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