What you can learn from the failures of the pharos

learning from the pharos

If you want to walk the shortest path to frustration and failure, short-change training.

No one in the world today, even the Egyptians themselves, really know how to build a pyramid like they did during the glory days of the Egyptian pharos.


Because they had a lousy training program. The pharos:

  • Didn’t document their procedures and systems, and
  • Didn’t pass down their techniques.

If you make these same mistakes in your business, one day soon your employees will be standing around wondering how you got things done back in your day.

Document what you do

The first step is to document what you do and for many procedures, this should take two forms: You should write step-by-step, illustrated instructions and you should make a short complementary instructional video whenever possible.

With video so handy today, there’s really no excuse for not creating instructional videos to go along with your written instructions. Even something as simple as the right way to fill out a form can be videoed via a screen capture program. You can talk your way through filling out a form, or doing an online task, and it will really help your team learn a new procedure and do it in a repeatable manner. Lots of individuals today learn better by being shown something rather than reading about it, and this brings us to our next important point.

Show others what you do

When someone has been trained in a new procedure, I think it’s a great idea to have that person train someone else almost immediately. This is a variation on the way surgeons have for centuries learned their art:

  • Watch someone,
  • Do one yourself, then
  • Teach someone else.

When you’re trying to teach something you’ve just learned to another person, it quickly uncovers areas where you are weak and in that way, the “teacher” gets taught as well. Further, it reveals weaknesses in the system being taught and those can then be corrected.

Finally, when “everything goes as planned” it gives your small business a certain amount of redundancy and built-in backup that will prove very handy when key team members call in sick or move on to another company.

I started this out by dipping back into the history of Egypt, and I think there’s another important point to make along those lines. While I’m certain the Egyptian people today are capable of great things, I don’t think there’s any argument that their pyramids stand as symbols of their greatest achievements in human history.

Here’s the lesson: If you fail to pass down efficiencies and customer service excellence through a solid training program, your greatest days will soon be behind you as well!