Foie gras-like training

Nov 04 2012, 03:47 IST
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SummaryDelicious foie gras, the sophisticated, upper crust goose or duck liver is savoured as a rare delicacy in France.

Delicious foie gras, the sophisticated, upper crust goose or duck liver is savoured as a rare delicacy in France. It’s the country’s “protected cultural and gastronomical heritage”. But little do people realise that it’s an inhuman making process. Californian animal rights activists have managed to ban foie gras sale from July 2012. Several European countries allow only “humane” methods for foie gras production. In France, geese or ducks are unnaturally force-fed (gavage) oil and corn through a pipe to grow an enlarged fatty liver within a short time. When paralysed with excessive weight, their buttery flavoured liver is extracted. Through complex processes this famous liver is prepared for sale either whole or as mousse, parfait or pate.

Drawing an analogy, I’m always shocked how Indian industry gives mandatory training to employees. They force-feed them, gavage style, to fulfill the training calendar. In executive education, does anyone care that participants from multiple cultures are not identical; they have diverse ways of knowledge absorption? Training can be akin to the goose liver-making process; “knowledge” forced down their gullets. But do participants become perfect on deployment, the way the goose liver gets differentiated as rich, soft and melting on the tongue? Is anybody checking to extract relevant results from trained personnel?

Employees happily go for executive education as the training tag adds value to their curriculum vitae. So enterprises routinely satisfy employees as well as fulfill good human resources development norms followed by international companies. Much of this, however, comprise rote learning, a carry-over from an education system that’s quite irrelevant to industry requirements.

At the executive education desk I’ve experienced employees listening attentively, but their understanding and expressive flair is yet to develop. Oftentimes what’s learnt is never applied at work for lack of opportunity or initiative on the trainee’s part. On returning to work, a note on the takeaway from the HRD session is circulated; very soon that’s brushed under the carpet. For hands-on types of training sessions, companies expect trainees to apply the knowledge gained immediately training’s over. Such deployment doesn’t really measure up as no absorption time is given to practice and hone the skills just picked up.

Here’s an example of good absorption. When arrived in Paris with no money and got a sweeper’s job in a lithography print-shop in 1974, another 20-year-old, a Japanese called Fukuda, came to learn lithography. Our office hours were eight but he’d spend 12 hours learning

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