Logo: TUG TORONTO USERS GROUP for Midrange Systems
e -server magazine

March 1997: Volume 12, Number 4

TUG's Technical Education Conference

By Ken Sadler

n both our personal and professional lives what has developed us most has been time spent with a mentor, a boss, or a supervisor who took an interest in us - teachers, friends, and parents who gave us feedback and direction to improve and develop ourselves. All of that was training, and we benefited greatly from it. We even appreciated it.

Now we are in these "super swift careers" where technology replaces itself about every three weeks, and we ponder how we can be the one with the right information. (Because the one with the right information wins the race, solves the problem, takes the right steps, and allows the trucks to roll today or the branch to open on time or the inventory part delivered.) These actions in turn, provide the kind of customer service that even exceeds the customers' expectations once in a while.

What inspires us, what develops us now?

Training does!

Recently I spoke with an I/T person who has had no training in the past 2 years. I stared at the floor in astonishment and then looked up and said, "You, in this technical culture, are 2 years behind!" It's true; we have had 3 changes in technology in the past 6 weeks! No one ever envisaged that we would see a product like Lotus Notes (and its equivalent competing products) be used to read an HTML document on an Internet Web page. Or try this one - where Lotus Notes (and its competitors) documents are being viewed with a Web browser on the same Internet. Nine months ago thoughts like this did not even stimulate our vision; but now in Toronto, people are doing it at home and at work everyday!

One of the things that I respect is the Toronto Users' Group's commitment to helping us member companies with relevant education for ourselves and our staff. The TUG volunteers are putting together 1 day and 2 day (Conference '97) training courses on cutting edge education topics. Even though one cannot send everyone, one can look seriously at sending someone to these education days every time.

Back in the 80's in I/S management, the theory was that you send only your best people and your leaders on training courses and they would be expected to pull the team forward with skills transfer and mentoring. Now the paradigm has changed. Just to get their jobs done effectively, every I/T role depends on training to improve their skills and thereby improve their productivity. In the past, one went to a conference and hoped to get 1 or 2 ideas for their company. Now we go to conferences and come back with 5 or 10, most of which cannot be implemented but we are glad we have them anyway - and the pay-back is in the 2 or 3 that can be.

It is not often that you can have the privilege of spending one day with the person from Rochester who wrote and developed PC Support and Client Access/400. TUG allowed me and several of my team members to do just that recently for $199 each for the day. Now, that is leveraging your training dollars!

In the midst of this technology that you and I are supporting every day in our roles, we have to make sure that our people are current. And this TUG training is the best training money can purchase. Of COMMON's recent top 20 speakers, several of them will be in Toronto at the next TUG Conference. I would encourage you to send your people or give this article to your boss so he/she sends them and you.

If you are in the same boat as the fellow I mentioned, I'm sorry you are 2 years behind; but here's a chance to do something about it. I often have said that the answers are not as important as the questions. But there is a certain level of background answers you need, or you will never think about the questions. Peter Drucker once said, "If you don't train the people in your company, then as time passes, what you end up with is a company of untrained people."

As obvious as it sounds; do you want your I/T to be run by a team of untrained people? Please join me and the members of my team at The next TUG TEC in Toronto. Check with TUG for information on how to register. T < G