The US Navy has been in the news a lot lately, and not for a good reason. There have now been four major incidents in the last six months. This is a very high number and has caused a lot of concern. I would be willing to bet, among all of the conclusions that are drawn from the ensuing investigation, the primary root cause will be the fact that there has been very little training for the sailors deployed in the 7th fleet.
Now, I know from experience that the US Navy is a fine organization with some of the best trained sailors in the world. But the training can't end once they get on board ship. Even those most important skills need to be practiced daily. Shipboard drills happen constantly, so that these skills never become stale, and so that if something new has been learned, it can be applied. Yes even those skills they went to a special school for, and even those officers and men who are considered to be at the top of their game need additional training all the time.
Take a look at the chart below. This shows how much time the organization plans to set aside for training, and how much really gets set aside due to operational needs. This should start to feel familiar for project and dev managers. We know we *want* to provide time for training(and maintenance by the way) but we just have too much to do. The end result is that our people get stale, they miss out on new technologies, and eventually their morale sinks to the point that mistakes are made, and good people leave.
It is the same thing with software developers. Granted, people don't generally get hurt or killed if we aren't at the top of our game, but livelihoods can be ruined. Even if the stakes are lower, if we are truly craftsman, then we care enough to always want to be at the top of our game. So even if you are very busy, and you need a lot of important things done, you need to take time for training. In the long run, you will end up hurting the team, the company and yourself. If you are a leader, and you truly want a highly functioning team, then you need to set aside time for training. It might feel like "lost productivity" but it will really pay off in a safer environment, and a more productive and a happier one, as well.
So yes, training matters. It is not an add on, or a frivolous extra to indulge in whenever we can get to it, but a major part of how we stay successful.
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Its not too late to sign up for our workshops coming in September! We have workshops for programmers, and for testers.
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