Dolph: Discover Valuable Training Treasures and Tips

Security Sales & Integration columnist Bob Dolph discusses the value of hands-on training.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

This is one of my all-time favorite training expressions. It comes from ancient Confucian philosophers. Its meaning is every bit as important today as back then.

What makes hands-on training so valuable? It is the best way that most learn in various technical venues. Just think about it: Many of us learned certain product skills by doing them on the job and often in a trial-and-error method. Wouldn’t it be better to do the install and learn from manufacturing experts? Many of us have learned over the years that no matter how good the documentation and remote tech support, one can only truly learn the ins and outs of a product by physically working with it.

In August’s print edition of Tech Talk, I commented on a new series of hands-on training sessions that Napco is conducting around the country. Dealers had the option to purchase an equipment package at a discount before the sessions. They were then invited to have tech(s) attend with their tools. (I was impressed that one dealer brought his whole fire install crew.) Doing and learning from the experts. It does not get any better than that.

Don’t Forget, Always RTFM

I’d like to continue with a few more observations and comments about the training session. First let’s start with an old acronym that is especially popular with tech support and training personnel: RTFM, which stands for “Read the Freakin’ Manual” (well that’s the PG version, anyway).

I have known tech support staff that will insist that a technician have the manual with them when they call in. “Don’t have a manual? Then get one and call me back.” Some may call this tough love. Warn your techs ahead of time.

As a former tech support and training manager, I had a good chuckle when someone commented during the Napco session that many technicians think the enclosed manual that comes with a product is nothing more than packing material. Not only does the manual get tossed out right away with the packing material, any special small items that come with the manual, like circuit board jumpers and EOL resistors, go in the trash as well.

I have known tech support staff that will insist that a technician have the manual with them when they call in. “Don’t have a manual? Then get one and call me back.” Some may call this tough love. Warn your techs ahead of time.

Another favorite story from tech support that was expressed by the Napco National Training Manager, Ziad Ghossaini, who noted, “Have all your tools with you before you call tech support.” Nothing ticks off tech support people more than a tech on the phone saying, “Just wait a moment while I go to my truck.”

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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