The Hand-Off

A friend recently attended a training that was refreshed based on new policy and handed to a new team who inherited it from another team. This new team decided to take a new approach to the training because they were making changes anyway. I like this approach to revamping training if you have an opportunity to make changes when you have the files open, take it!

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go as expected. Luckily, when training goes poorly, my friends ALWAYS tell me. Instead of a great training experience, the majority of the class time was spent with the participants correcting the facilitator’s out-of-date or misinformation. Let’s break down what went wrong with this training, so we don’t make the same mistakes.

Content is King

While we may not be the content experts, our materials guide us. The task of this training team was to update the content consistently across the new policy books. They became so focused on the new interactions and cool new training that due diligence was left out. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching pilots how to fly or philanthropists how to engage, content must be rigorously checked.

The first time the class corrected the errant information, they chalked it up to a mistake. As the day went on, the frustration grew, and eventually, it was not a good learning environment. To put it bluntly, they checked out.

Pilot all Training

Skipping steps in the design process is always tempting, especially when it is just an update. I regret skipping steps every single time. My team is pretty awesome at reminding me of this when I get in a hurry because this is one of those steps that is tempting to skip. By adding a small pilot with a few subject matter experts, this team could have easily identified the gaps in content before presenting. By putting the pressure on themselves to be the content experts, they gave themselves blind spots and set-up points of failure.

Do pilots take time and cost money? Sure.

Is that better than a course failing in front of a bunch of participants who are taking time away from their jobs and family? Absolutely!

Post-Mortem

First, I really don’t like that term, but it is industry jargon and I don’t know how to kill it (pun intended). When a project goes poorly, or well, sit down with the team and reflect on why things went the way they did. Start with what went well, then discuss what could be improved next time. Never place blame, and always walk away with an action plan.

What else could this team have done to prevent this issue? Where have you seen training like this breakdown? Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments below!

Evolution of an eLearning Designer

Early in my instructional design career, I developed loose structure I followed for most of my instructor-led training. Most training I developed had the same basic structure:

  1. Short lecture (two to five minutes)
  2. Activity
  3. Short assessment
  4. Repeat for all objectives
  5. Final Assessment

Evolution of In-Person Structure

As I grew in my field I learned that this structure missed a lot of opportunities for engagement Continue reading

Instructional Design Dilemma: Knowing When To Let Go

Let Go

Last Thursday we published a transcript of a conversation our team had about game design. One theme from that post is the idea of letting go of something that you poured your heart and soul into.

I love my job, and that shows in how much I love what we produce. As a result of this passion, I often find myself emotionally connected with what we produce and I have a sense of pride when I feel we accomplished what we set off to achieve. I am not a perfectionist, but I do like putting out good work. Continue reading

Trainer’s Fishbowl: An Inside Look at a Pilot Program that Didn’t Hit the Mark

Fishbowl

This week we had an opportunity to pilot a training program that we’ve been working on for the past two months. We were excited to unveil it before a pilot audience, especially because we had an opportunity to incorporate a board game into the module.

At the end of the pilot session, we realized that we didn’t quite hit the mark in our first draft. Yesterday, the Endurance Learning leadership team came together via Slack to debrief the experience.

Today’s post is a sort of “fish bowl”, an opportunity to take a look into the conversation that took place as we de-briefed this session.   Continue reading

Divide and Concur – Why Proof Reading is Important

Screenshot_20170830-103751

In my first job after college, I sent an email to all staff regarding the status of a server. My email ended with:

“The server should be back up and running within the hour. We apologize for the incontinence.”

I didn’t realize my mistake until I received an email reply from a colleague highlighting the difference between incontinence and inconvenience and the people within the cubicles around me erupted with laughter. This typo became a long running joke at meetings, in future emails, and while passing my colleagues in the hallway. Continue reading

On diversity training, the Google Bro and just being a good person at the office.

Diversity Day

The Office takes on diversity

If you don’t want a more equitable and inclusive work environment, you’re not a good person. Period. Full stop.

Can we train our way out of a labor system that has a history of putting certain groups ahead of others, a history that spans from the very beginning of this country with slavery until present day when women make 82 cents for every dollar that a man makes and when combined, African Americans and Hispanics make up only 9% of the workforce in the top 75 tech companies in Silicon Valley (though they make up 31% of the overall US population)?   Continue reading

Can you admit when you’re wrong?

soccer.jpg

My daughter’s final spring soccer game took place last Sunday. As the game was winding down and the score was tied 3-3, one of her teammates took a blistering shot and found the back of the net.

My daughter’s team went up 4-3. As the referee ran back to mid-field to set up for the kick-off, my daughter caught his attention and said: “Sir, the ball hit my arm before it went into the goal.”

The referee waved off the goal and the score reverted to 3-3.

That was a gutsy sign of maturity and sportsmanship. Do we have the same guts when we do something wrong in the training room?   Continue reading

How Bob Pike Would Help An SME Out Of A Jam

On Monday, I put out a desperate plea, seeking advice for an SME who had a tough time in the preparation and delivery of a presentation (click here to see the full post). Training legend Bob Pike read the case study and decided to weigh in on this particular situation. Following is what he suggested.

Agree? Disagree? Have other ideas? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

“Here are questions I would ask in order to respond to the situation:

1. How many in the audience?

2. Are they all eye doctors?

3. Why did they need this presentation?

4. What is the outcome of the presentation supposed to be?

5. Why were you asked to do this presentation? What do you bring that is unique?

Then, given that it is only 30 minutes and that there is probably a huge amount of expertise in the audience I might approach it this way:

1. I’ve given each of you a piece of paper. Working with a partner you have two minutes to draw an eyeball and label as many parts of it as possible. Begin. At the end of two minutes I would say, “familiarity doesn’t mean competence.”

2. Then, I would allow them two minutes to confer with those around them and add/subtract/correct anything they want to.

3. I would the use this as a springboard into pulling from them the anatomy starting from macro to micro, maybe with a large poster of the eye rather than a PowerPoint just to change it up.

One thing we constantly talk with our trainers about is having at least two ways to present each piece of content so that we are not dependent on technology.”

Bob Pike CSP, CPAE, CPLP Fellow, MPCT

Chairman Emeritus/Founder, The Bob Pike Group

Founder/Editor, The Creative Training Techniques Newsletter

Past Chairman of the Executive Board – Lead Like Jesus

Competition: A Training Tool to Use Very Carefully

After lunch, I decided to design a short competition into a recent training session to make sure my audience stayed awake. I accidentally awoke a monster.

I broke the group up into two teams. I gave each team a marker and a flipchart. I gave them two minutes to list as many concepts as they could remember about the topic we had covered before lunch. Instead of the post-lunch lull, the room was abuzz with activity, excitement and urgency.

After each team presented the list of concepts they had generated, one team was declared the winner and we moved on to the next activity.

Later that afternoon we needed to come up with a common definition of one of our concepts. I thought the group was too large to try to come up with a common definition and to involve everyone in the process, so I asked participants to return to the two teams they had been in during the post-lunch competition. Each team was asked to come up with a definition, then we’d come together in the large group and wordsmith until we all came to a common definition.

When it came time for the large group to come together and wordsmith, each team staked out their territory and the old battle lines of competition were drawn again. The team that did not win earlier was especially motivated to try to come up with a “winning” definition. Neither team seemed very interested in appreciating and using aspects from the other team’s definition.

In the end, we came up with a solid definition that everyone was happy with, but the “us vs. them” mentality of competition that had been introduced earlier in the afternoon seemed to have a lasting and unintended impact. As I reflected on this experience, I still believe that fostering a competitive spirit during certain times of a training program can be helpful (even in this example, it helped power us through the post-lunch lull). But I also think there are three keys to the productive use of friendly training competition activities:

  1. Incentives And Prizes Aren’t Necessary

I offered the winning team a package of full-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars. After the competition was over, participants were looking for extrinsic rewards (chocolate) every time they were asked to participate. I’ve come to realize that in training programs, bragging rights are often the best prize. Without tangible rewards, participants seek to participate to add value (and get their own bragging rights) going forward. With prizes such as chocolate, people sometimes stop participating when they don’t have any hope for additional rewards.

  1. Clear Transition Away From Competition Is Necessary For Closure

If I could do it over again, I still would have broken the group up in half to ensure everyone’s voice was heard in coming up with a common definition, though I would have changed the group up so new teams were formed. When I put them back into the same groups, the tendency to reach back into the “us vs. them” mentality was only natural. Changing the groups would have been a physical symbol that we were done competing.

  1. Sometimes Collaboration Is Even Better Than Competition

In hindsight, I could have just asked every learner to grab a stack of post-its and to individually write every concept from the morning that they could remember within a two minute time limit. Perhaps we could have set the goal to be: let’s see if, as a group, we can remember 25 different concepts from the morning. Perhaps this could have created a “we’re all in this together” attitude that would have been much more helpful with the remainder of the day.

What’s your view about pitting individuals or teams against one another in competition during training events?

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