Training: see what happens now and repeat.
Like a sad dinner-for-one that is sat at the back of the fridge that’s past its sell-by-date, the current prevailing concepts of training are out-dated. I has been superseded by something better and can safely be discarded. Training is a very commonly used word and perhaps it needs refreshing itself. Transformed into a new design led process, by re-imagining, re-designing and inspiring new methodologies. Learning is in many ways a better way to think of this subject, because learning belongs to the learner, whereas training traditionally belongs to the trainer or the organisation. Training (in my opinion) should be about whole person development, not just transferring skills, the traditional interpretation of training at work.
Design Thinking (crash course here) is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems. When Design Thinking is applied to the new paradigm of learning and training, it can draw upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the trainee). A design mindset is not problem-centric; it’s solution focused and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination.
With this in mind, it is good to look for solutions across different platforms and styles of thought. My favourite scientific rapper (there can be only one) is the very wonderful Baba Brinkman. While covering the theory of evolution and the work of Charles Darwin, equates evolution with how he writes his lyrics thus: Performance, Feedback, Revision.
…..and how do human beings (learning and training organisations) ever learn to do anything? Like this:
- Performance – Feedback – Revision
…..and how do I generally develop my lyricism (training / speaking / inspiring)? Like this:
- Performance – Feedback – Revision
Because the performance is necessary to change the words (learning) to decide which have an impact and which to send back to the drawing board.
- Performance (training people to be amazing, by me)
- Feedback (from trainees and my peers)
- Revision (the ‘bits’ that have impact are iterated)
Organisations which approach training and development from this standpoint inevitably foster people who perform well and progress. Importantly their good people stay around for long enough to become great at what they do, and to help others become so. Leaders creating future leaders. The best training methods are not necessarily just conveying information, but that can make receiving data or instructions a much more enjoyable experience, which will keep trainees involved and help them retain more information. The process of design thinking for training might look like this visually:
A modified form of this process for training might include these waypoints:
- Define the Challenge and Agenda. The start is crucial and doesn’t have to be linear after this.Develop a set of powerful questions to surface opportunities, and frame training and learning innovation.
- Gather Data. Learn how to gather data through qualitative research such as observation (thick data) and storytelling to augment traditional forms of data gathering. Some powerful tools include Journey Mapping, touch-point analysis and value chain analysis.
- Reframe and Clarify the Challenge. Make sense of research by seeing patterns, themes, and larger relationships between the information. Challenge assumptions and illuminate opportunities latent in the training process.
- Explore Play and Create Novelty. Giving a safe place to experiment and innovate. Lower the barriers to what can be done, what could be achieved and direction training might go. Technological and ideological events that allow freedom and true innovative experience.
- Make Learning Fun. Designing from the basis of fun will make a process inspirational. Trainees will not be enthusiastic if training sessions are dry and dull. Few employees respond to or remember complicated concepts or theories; they want to learn practical information about what they can do to get better results today. If they don’t find the message entertaining, they won’t retain it. Using the design process it is possible to use multiple, diverse and different training methods to engage learning for trainees in a variety of ways.
- Encourage Artful Reflection. Cultivate your intuition and develop aesthetic ways of knowing. The elegant training solution wins in the marketplace.
- Powerful Visualisation. Develop visual thinking skills to de-code images, and communicate ideas visually. Visual literacy transcends the limitations of language and activates our senses. Training tools include Mind mapping, sketching and painting.
- Time to Ideate. Learn six idea generation tools to foster shifts in perception, break out of traditional mind-sets, and generate seed ideas for innovation, including Metaphorical thinking, connecting the dots, and Edison’s invention techniques. The new paradigms for training don’t need to re-invent the wheel but under process like meta-cognition (learning to learn).
- Evaluate and getting Feedback. Identify the criteria you need to evaluate training ideas; learn the distinction between critiquing and criticising an idea; give feedback that enhances creativity rather than crushes it.
- Encourage Participation. Use the Design Process to understand how facilitation works. Make the session lively by engaging participants in the learning process. In fact, try to spend close to 80 percent of training time on group participation. Encourage everyone in the training session to speak freely and candidly, because learning occurs most readily when feelings are involved.
- Fast Prototyping. Create a visual tangible representation of your idea and present it to the group for feedback. Create a feasibility and an adoption checklist to get people onboard.
- Customer Co-creationand Empowerment. Exploring alternative futures with your internal and external training customers.
- Interim Assessment. Gather early feedback from prototype. Assess outcomes, and refine your project. Develop a set of feedback questions to get the information you need, i.e., does this add value to the trainee or the client?
- Use Humour and be Playful. Humour helps keep enthusiasm at peak levels. Trainers can make a point more effectively by using humour than by drowning trainees in statistics or theories. Personal, self-deprecating humor is the safest way to go.
- Roll out and Implementation. Create an action plan and test-drive your innovation plan for training change.
- Finally Iterate. Assess results, modify and improve, using this framework to drive the cutting edge of training change.
- Excellence, always. Goes without saying.
From now on, in big letters across the top of your white boards should go the words:
Performance – Feedback – Revision.