All About Training

There I was … knee-deep in planning offset training. Part of this blog is a shameless plug for the GOCA conference in San Diego in November. But part of it reflects on the challenges of presenting a concise training course in offsets.

I work in the training team for the Global Offsets and Countertrade Organization (www.globaloffset.org). GOCA hosts a conference twice a year, so twice a year I and my fellow teammates revise old training or propose new courses based on past conference critiques. As anyone in industry peer training knows, this is quite the challenge for any topic, but when that topic is offsets, it is both harder and more interesting.

It is harder, as imagine trying to boil down decades of experience and dozens of different offset policy permutations into just a day. Time is of the essence. The old hands quickly nod and want the pace to increase or they will nod off; the new hands stare at you like a deer in the headlights and ask you the same question three different ways hoping to catch you in a falsehood. As with all professions, basic words or phrases are twisted into new meanings and shapes when spoken in an offset context. Add to that a repeated desire to have ‘hands on’ training. In our classes this coming conference, we are working on scenarios to be role-played by the cast of students attending. Unlike a real offset proposal, however, we have to be done in a few hours. So, the team has to carefully review the facts of the scenario to eliminate as many contradictions as possible, make sure the scenario is solvable with given facts, and guide the student (teams in this case) to negotiate a successful program … while still playing the grumbly offset office wanting to maximize the offset values.

On the other hand, it is interesting. Many of the ‘students’ have more experience than any two instructors combined. We allow – nay encourage – plenty of interruptions for examples and experiences for the benefit of all the attendees. This makes the instructor’s job easier in the classroom – I always go in with the agenda worried I have filled the day and given everyone the bang for their buck that they expected, and I always leave having to kick folks out the door as the lights are being turned out, telling them to continue these discussions at the reception in a few minutes.

So much information, so many experiences, so little time.

That is why, if you are in this business – even tangentially – you should make the GOCA Fall Conference 11-14 November in lovely San Diego … and particularly sign up for the training. An industry-only day on Monday kicks off the event. And a combined industry-government representative day on Thursday concludes the event. It is fitting that Training buttresses both sides of the main two-day conference of experts from around the world.

Moral: Training done well is hard, regardless of the topic, and offsets are no exception. Hope to see you there!

Moral P.S.: I always blog what I learned at the conference a few weeks afterwards, so even if you don’t make it, you can read a CliffNotes version here.