Training isn’t a substitute for good design

Training isn't a band-aid for bad design

Training isn’t the only—and often isn’t the best—risk mitigation strategy.

I teach Human-Systems Integration for Modeling and Simulation (HSI for M&S) at the local university. In one of the assignments, students are asked to identify five risks in a hypothetical system development project. After identifying the risks, they have to plan prevention and minimization strategies for each.

This is a pretty straightforward risk management assignment; the only somewhat unique feature is that all of the risks must involve humans in some way. Examples might include operator errors due to poor usability or lack of sufficient staff due to unsupportable manpower requirements.

Despite the wide array of “human-centric” risks that the students might select—and correspondingly broad range of prevention and mitigation strategies—I keep seeing the same risk management solution appear: Training.

Bad usability? We’ll train the operators to be more careful.

Cybersecurity concerns? We’ll provide training to make the users more aware.

Manpower issues? We’ll train our workforce to make them more productive.

I may be seeing these plans from my graduate students, but I’m sure that similar thoughts have gone through real-world system designers’ minds. It seems commonplace to see training used as a band-aid to fix system design issues that should have been prevented sometime earlier in the system’s lifecycle.

Why isn’t training the (only) answer?

Training is good, but it shouldn’t be the whole risk management strategy, and it certainly shouldn’t be listed as the main risk mitigation approach for most system design issues. Too often, I’ve seen groups adopt the idea that “training is a solution for all problems,” which is an issue for several reasons:

First, training is (essentially) the last opportunity for solving systems-level problems/risks. Before reaching the training stage, system developers have the opportunity to build many other safeguards or improved design features into the system. More often than not, these built-in, designed components more effectively and efficiently address system issues (versus trying to train the personnel to work around system issues). For example, if a computer interface has a poorly human-factored Graphical User Interface (GUI), the system developers could spend money upfront to improve the design, or they could implement training (downstream) to help operators learn to use the non-intuitive interface—and incur repeated training costs, achieve lower effectiveness, and probably frustrate the operators in the process.

Second, another caution about focusing too myopically on training is that this can reinforce the “blame the operator” culture. Although most errors require some incident at the “acute” (or “tactical” or “on-the-ground”) operator/system interface, that doesn’t mean that operator errors are the primary cause of most system failures. As James Reason’s well-known “Swiss Cheese” model of system failure shows, system failures require multiple “holes” to line-up, and both acute and latent issues are needed to cause a failure. Training generally only affects the acute errors; additional strategies are needed to mitigate the other latent “holes” within the system.

Third and finally, training is not a magic bullet. Think about all of the training courses you’ve experienced. How effective were most of them? And did they help you have consistently perfect performance once you completed them? It’s difficult and expensive to reliably and effectively train a workforce, and it’s unreasonable to expect humans to consistently perform without any error. So, while training is important, it shouldn’t be the sole defense against risks—particularly if system design features, implemented earlier in the system lifecycle, could more effectively and affordably manage those risks.


  1. 2 May 2020    

    Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

  2. 4 May 2020    

    Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

  3. 19 June 2020    

    Hello there, There’s no doubt that your site might be having browser compatibility problems.
    Whenever I look at your site in Safari, it looks
    fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues.
    I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up!
    Aside from that, great blog!

  4. 20 June 2020    

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some
    time and actual effort to produce a top notch article… but what
    can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done.

  5. 21 June 2020    

    If some one wants to be updated with most recent technologies
    then he must be pay a visit this website and be up to date all the time.

  6. Jerrymiz's Gravatar Jerrymiz
    21 June 2020    

    Знаете ли вы?
    Не удержавшись от писательства, Амалия Кахана-Кармон создала одну из важнейших книг в истории Израиля.
    Первый футбольный трофей после начала пандемии коронавируса был разыгран в Таджикистане.
    Врач на карантине спел созданную для фильма песню Высоцкого «Давно смолкли залпы орудий».
    Член Зала хоккейной славы готов был играть где угодно, лишь бы не переходить в тренеры.
    100-летний ветеран внёс уникальный вклад в борьбу со смертельной угрозой.


  7. Jerrymiz's Gravatar Jerrymiz
    21 June 2020    

    Знаете ли вы?
    Копенгагенский собор пришлось выстроить заново после визита англичан в 1807 году.
    Первый в мире короткоствольный револьвер (англ.)русск. с откидным барабаном стал символом кинонуара.
    Американский лейтенант из конвоя PQ-17 был спасён советским танкером и наладил его оборону от авианалётов.
    Хотя ареал белизского геккона состоит из нескольких крохотных островов, IUCN не считает его раздробленным.
    Один из старейших музеев Амстердама находится в церкви на чердаке.

  8. 21 June 2020    

    Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it very difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I
    can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but
    I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or
    suggestions? Many thanks

  9. 25 June 2020    

    Very good write-up. I definitely appreciate this website.

    Stick with it!

  10. 26 June 2020    

    If you want to increase your know-how simply keep
    visiting this site and be updated with the hottest information posted here.

  11. 26 June 2020    

    whoah this weblog is excellent i like reading your articles.
    Keep up the great work! You know, lots of persons are looking around for this
    information, you could aid them greatly.

  12. 26 June 2020    

    Hello There. I found your blog the use of msn. This is
    an extremely smartly written article. I will make sure to bookmark
    it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for
    the post. I’ll definitely return.

  13. 26 June 2020    

    Hello mates, how is everything, and what you would like to say about this paragraph, in my view its genuinely awesome in support of me.

  14. 27 June 2020    

    There’s definately a great deal to know about this topic.

    I love all of the points you made.

  15. 27 June 2020    

    Hello to every body, it’s my first pay a visit of this blog; this website
    consists of remarkable and genuinely good material in support of readers.

  16. 27 June 2020    

    I think that is one of the such a lot significant information for me.
    And i am happy reading your article. However should observation on some normal things, The web site style
    is wonderful, the articles is really excellent : D.
    Excellent task, cheers

  17. 27 June 2020    

    Hello, I enjoy reading all of your post. I wanted to write a little comment to
    support you.

  18. 28 June 2020    

    I could not refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

  19. 28 June 2020    

    Great weblog here! Also your web site so much up fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink
    in your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  20. 9 July 2020    

    Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

  21. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.

  22. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  23. SMS's Gravatar SMS
    9 July 2020    

    Very good article! We are linking to this particularly great content on our site. Keep up the great writing.

  24. 16 July 2020    

    This article will help the internet viewers for building up new weblog
    or even a weblog from start to end.

  25. 17 July 2020    

    There’s definately a great deal to know about this topic.
    I like all of the points you’ve made.

  26. 17 July 2020    

    Asking questions are actually good thing if you are not understanding something fully,
    however this article gives pleasant understanding

  27. 21 July 2020    

    Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the information you provide here and can’t wait to
    take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, good site!

  28. 22 July 2020    

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for
    me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire
    out a designer to create your theme? Great work!

  29. 25 July 2020    

    I got this site from my pal who told me concerning this web
    page and at the moment this time I am browsing this site and
    reading very informative articles at this place.

  30. 26 July 2020    

    Hi, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Opera, it
    looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, superb blog!

  31. 27 July 2020    

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog.

    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  32. 27 July 2020    

    It’s very effortless to find out any matter on web as compared to textbooks,
    as I found this paragraph at this site.

  33. 30 July 2020    

    Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help
    from an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog?
    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start.
    Do you have any points or suggestions? Thank you adreamoftrains
    web hosting services

  34. 30 July 2020    

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is truly good.

    Here is my web site – 오피

  35. 31 July 2020    

    What’s up mates, good piece of writing and fastidious arguments commented at
    this place, I am in fact enjoying by these.

  36. 5 August 2020    

    Incredible points. Sound arguments. Keep up
    the amazing spirit.

  37. 5 August 2020    

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!
    Extremely useful information specially the last
    part :) I care for such info much. I was seeking this certain info for a very long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  38. 6 August 2020    

    Very rapidly this site will be famous among all blog people, due
    to it’s nice posts

  39. 6 August 2020    

    Hey there this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have
    to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how
    so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would
    be enormously appreciated!

  40. 7 August 2020    

    Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look
    forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

  41. 7 August 2020    

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve
    found something which helped me. Thank you!

  42. 9 August 2020    

    I抦 impressed, I need to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that抯 each educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you’ve got hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the problem is something that not sufficient persons are talking intelligently about. I’m very pleased that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for something regarding this.

  43. 10 August 2020    

    This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post.

    Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

  44. 10 August 2020    

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally,
    it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your
    weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  45. 11 August 2020    

    I as well as my pals were found to be checking the great tips and tricks located on your website and all of a sudden I got a terrible suspicion I had not expressed respect to you for those strategies. Most of the young men appeared to be certainly warmed to read through them and have honestly been loving them. Thanks for really being very helpful and then for settling on varieties of really good themes millions of individuals are really eager to be informed on. My personal sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

  46. 13 August 2020    

    If you are going for best contents like I do, only pay a quick visit this
    web site all the time as it gives feature contents, thanks

  47. 13 August 2020    

    I must show thanks to this writer just for rescuing me from such a situation. After researching through the internet and finding views which were not helpful, I believed my life was well over. Living minus the strategies to the issues you have solved as a result of your entire article content is a crucial case, and those that might have negatively affected my entire career if I hadn’t come across your web page. Your personal expertise and kindness in playing with the whole lot was precious. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t discovered such a solution like this. I can at this moment look ahead to my future. Thanks so much for this high quality and result oriented guide. I won’t hesitate to propose the sites to anybody who would like guidance on this problem.

  48. 14 August 2020    

    fantastic submit, very informative. I wonder why
    the opposite specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
    You must continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *