The Excel VLOOKUP figured prominently in daily life when I was a software support consultant-in-training. Our managers warned us about the formula, how it was daunting and seemingly impossible to learn. But once you got it, they promised, you got it. You never had to worry about a VLOOKUP again.

After composing about a dozen VLOOKUPs on actual support calls, it did get easier. It was fun, even. Creating them was a challenge I looked forward to. Over time, as was promised, the VLOOKUP had become second nature.

How to create a VLOOKUP in Excel 2010

This idea – that training is ineffective without practice – figures prominently in a recent Wall Street Journal article about Google’s approach to corporate learning. In the piece, writer Joseph Walker looks at GoogleEDU, the company’s learning and leadership development program that was created in 2010.

The program is notable, Walker writes, because of its untraditional, data-centric approach to learning. For example, new managers are trained on the Google performance evaluation process not when they are hired, but right before review time.

Corporate learning is hardly new. Walker cites a few dollar amounts: U.S. businesses spent $171.5 billion on learning and development in 2010, according to the American Society for Training and Development. And General Electric spends $1 billion every year on training and education for employees.

The budgets are there, but the challenge, writes Walker, is getting the information to sink in.

“Getting these programs to work, though, is tricky. Management experts say it is all well and good to send employees to classes, but to get the lessons to stick, employees need to apply them to their daily work lives.”

At Google, this seeping in is a science.

“Google thinks it has found a way to make its learning stick,” writes Walker. “It has become more exacting about when it offers classes and to whom. It uses employee reviews of managers — similar to the instructor reviews that college students fill out at the end of a semester — to suggest courses to managers.”

Google has also begun offering specific classes based on an employee’s work area and career stage, Walker writes. This targeted learning is specific and actionable.

Click here to read the full article.

And for a video on how to create a proper VLOOKUP, click here. Don’t worry; if you don’t get it the first time, keep trying. Or just call us.

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