Training content outline has almost zero value.

Recently, there have been a lot of chatter about content outline in the local learning & development (L&D) social media. This is nothing new. This topic is like the recession; it comes back once every so often. It never dies, just like the issue of trainer’s rates, unfair treatment of or by training providers, HRDC not taking care of trainers etc.

As usual, I have my own point of view on this, and it is derived from the little experience I have being involved in the local L&D scene as well as my social work around building community of practice in one form or the other. One other potential benefit that I might have is the fact that I have been fortunate to be playing or has played various roles in L&D from being a trainer, to a training provider, to a consultant etc.

Let’s weigh in on this topic by first recognizing what is a content online?

Even though, there are numerous definitions of what a content outline is, however each one of them do have one distinction in common which is “a general description about the content; it is not detailed.” Therefore, we can equate a content outline as a picture of a dish. This means, it is not the dish itself. It has not been cooked but a visual representation of a finished dish.

If the picture of a dish can never be the dish itself, therefore a training content outline is not the training itself. And here lies the value of the content outline – almost nothing. As much as a picture is not the dish so is the content outline is not the training.

Now, let’s take this analogy further. Do you pay for the picture, or do you pay for the dish? Of course, the dish. Now, do you pay the photographer of the picture of the dish, or do you pay the chef that cooked the dish? Ofd course the chef. This means, a client doesn’t pay for the content outline, they pay for the training, the skill of the chef, the ingredients in the dish etc. This diminishes even further the value of the content outline.

Now, can a content outline be of use? Of course. Just like a photo of a dish can be useful. Yet, the fact still stands that the picture is not the dish.

The picture can entice the diner, give an expectation of how the dish looks like, and provide a benchmark of the dish. However, it is still unable to give an indication of the taste, the freshness of the ingredients, how it is truly cooked and served. Just like a training outline provides indicators of what a training will look like, what it entails etc yet the content outline is still unable to represent how the training will be conducted, is learning really going to happen, the value of the experience and usefulness of the training to the learners.

The faster trainers realise the value and use of the content outline, the more assured the trainers will be in marketing themselves.

So, what is the real use of the content outline to a trainer? Well, the content outline is the means of increasing the potential of getting a job. That is it.

Think about it. If, the trainer profile is what truly sells the trainer, why bother to provide the content outline? Why do clients want the content outline? Think of your client as a diner that would like to see a picture of the dish to provide some sort of insight whether to order or not.

Also think about this. If a training provider can do their own training content outline, why do they need to ask it from the trainer? Won’t it be easier and cheaper if they can do it themselves? Well, the simple answer why they ask from the trainer is because they can’t do it themselves. They are not a trainer. They are a training provider. This situation is good news for trainers because the training providers are relying heavily on us for content outlines. So, help them to help us.

These two thoughts will lead us to the inevitable conclusion that the content outline is what will open doors for the trainer… through the training provider.

This also means that if a trainer is reluctant to give their training content outline, therefore, the chances of work will be less because the training provider can’t submit anything on our behalf. However, if the trainer provides their content outline to training providers, then the training provider will be able to submit more jobs and the probability of the trainer getting a job is so much higher. It is not a guarantee, but the probability is definitely higher than not giving out their content outline. It is a numbers game pure and simple.

Let us now address this so-called problem of training providers taking a trainer’s content outline and once they get the job, they pass it to someone else to do it. Usually to a trainer who is much cheaper. Many trainers cry foul over this. I can understand where they are coming from. Trainers feel their effort is not recognised. For this reason, my heart goes to them. But if the reason is about intellectual property (one of its kind… my training is special. I am special. No one do what I do), it is illegal, or my ego is slighted because I am a great trainer and I feel used etc, I have a few wake-up calls for you.

Number one.
It is not illegal. Is it unethical? I would say yes but it is not illegal. So, live with it. It is part of the game.

Number two.
Training provider is using me. Well, when we don’t get it, we say that. But when we get it what do we say? We say nothing right? The simple truth is that we are also using them to get us jobs. Grow up for goodness sake. Be fair. It is a win win. You need them as much as they need you.

Number three.
My content outline is unique, special, and one of a kind. It is my intellectual property. Let me ask you this. If it is so special and unique how come the training provider is confident enough to give it to someone else to deliver? I am sure the training provider will not give it to some other trainer to deliver and risk the job being a shambles if he truly finds it unique and special and that you are the only one that can do it. The reality is that, based on result, it is not special and unique. The training provider is experienced enough in seeing so many training content outline, even more than you, to know if it is unique to not give it to someone else. Please get off your high horse. Anyway, if you don’t get the job, just be ok that the job is not meant for you. Learn from it and move on. You can even treat this as a filter. If you encounter any training provider that does that, great news. One more training provider you don’t have to bother to work with. Isn’t that great, reducing the numbers.

Number four.
As long you decide to play this game as a freelance trainer and to rely on training providers to market you, live with the rules of the game. Please don’t bitch and whine. It is part of the game that you have chosen. Stop being a victim. If you feel strongly about it, be a training provider too and market yourself so that you can do your own content outline, you can then submit your own content outline, you will then get the job yourself, you can then hire yourself and you don’t have to give it to others. Along the way, be ok to pay for marketing cost, administration cost, other operating cost etc. If you are not willing to pay the price, don’t buy the dish. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t be a chef. Pure and simple. The choice is in your hands. You know very well the consequences.

As for me, I do not put stock to the photo of a dish. The proof is in the dish itself. Just like my mum’s asam pedas.

My mum’s asam pedas is not good looking. It is full of daun kesum (Chinese Knotweed) – all over the gravy with the stalk still attached, chili oil floating, dark red gravy with chili seeds floating, daun kantan (Torch Ginger Flower) cut haphazardly, there is cabbage in it, brinjal, sayur asin, iununiformed fish sizes etc. My word, a total havoc. It is nothing like the pictures of asam pedas in hotel coffee houses, with carved tomato decoration, chili cut into shape of flowers, clean sidewall etc. Guess which one is the best I have tasted?


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