Technical documentation vs Training materials

As a trainer, I often hear “we have training materials but people still cannot learn by themselves”. And then I’m handed a technical documentation and asked to improve “this training material”. Well, “technical documentation” and “training materials” are totally different things, and if you have one doesn’t mean you have the other one. See below the differences.

Technical documentation Training materials
Technical perspective Business perspective
Focus on tool description Focus on process flow
Focus on WHAT Focus on HOW and WHY

Let’s see an example we all are familiar with:

Technical documentation Training materials
Passenger seats: can move back or forth 20 cm, can be reclined After sitting down on the seat behind the steering wheel check the following:
Steering wheel: can rotate clockwise to steer the car right and counter-clockwise to steer the car left 1. Adjust your seat to feel comfortable, arms not to stretched but not to tight. Your back should be straight.
Seat belts: one for each seat, will keep the passenger fixed in case of a car crash 2. Fasten your seat belt to avoid a fine and save your live in case of accident
Mirror: allows you to see what’s behind the car 3. Adjust the mirror so you can have a clear a view of the cars behind you
Clutch pedal: disengage the gears when changing speed To start the car, start the engine by turning the key. Press the clutch pedal to the floor and move the stick to the 1st speed.
Gas pedal: sends gas to the motor to make the car running Gently press the gas pedal and increase pressure to increase the car’s speed.
Break pedal: makes the car to stop When you want to stop, release the gas pedal and, with the same foot, press on the break pedal.

Conclusion: just reading the car’s handbook doesn’t mean you would pass the driver’s license exam!