One of the wonders of technology is how much it shrinks our world. I’ve often wondered how similar learning & development is in other countries. On the surface it seems as though it is familiar, but perhaps it’s just my filter bubble. Over the next little while, I’ll be engaging with some bloggers and L&D folks around the world to explore this, in a kind of blog-tour.
First up is a former colleague who has moved to Berlin. I’ll let him tell his story in the next post.
Got ideas for how we could explore technology around the world? Drop a comment below…
My teenage daughter has joined her school improv team and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Having been in the “training biz” for nearly 20 years, and a consultant for more than 5, I’ve experienced first hand how important thinking on your feet can be. Heck, even in just regular organizational settings I see some tremendous benefits. I am pleased that my daughter is going to be learning these things, which can only really enhance her education and of course these are the formative years, so perhaps it’ll have long term effects beyond schooling.
After reading this post by Harold Jarche, and then seeing this one by Annie Murphy Paul, it looks like creativity continues to be an important topic in our schooling and organizations as well. I was inspired to blog and share some thoughts about improv. Here are the things that I like best:
- Observation – one thing that my daughter has said is that they are students of non-verbal cues in improv, somehow they know who is going to jump into “the ring” by their body language. Those subtle cues are something that we all see, but some of us don’t pay attention to. In improv it’s a huge part of the language. The flip side is also true, they become aware of how they are communicating as a whole and are expressive with more than just words.
- Courage – I love that improv rewards courage – you have to be willing to make a fool of yourself, but along the way you may uncover something very clever.
- Teamwork – the improv teams come to trust and rely on each other and really work together. They also support each other emotionally, celebrate successes together and comeriserate less successful efforts too. One of the main goals is to make others look good.
- Creativity – of course – this is the natural business connection – it teaches creativity and innovation, but I think it’s more than that. It teaches pattern recognition and iterative design. Improv’ers know that certain structures work and mash those up all the time.
- Learning – this to me is at the heart of improv – it’s a living art, as I suppose any performance art is – and they are always learning, from watching each other, from trying new things, from feedback, from other domains, from failures, from other’s failures, etc.
- It celebrates: Fun. funny. smart – I love that improv is like cerebral sports – for those of us who appreciate those kind of things. It is a facet of humanity that doesn’t get celebrated nearly as much as the physical (Olympics, professional sports, etc).
I see some really interesting aspects of improv for those in the learning business, too. If you are designing training, perhaps borrowing a page or two from the improv world could enhance your programs. In face-to-face training they can add a sense of adventure, but really teach much more than that. And these can be used in virtual training (webinars, web classrooms) as well.
For those who develop training strategies, there could be lots to learn from this site: http://improvencyclopedia.org/index.html
If you have ideas for how to inject elearning with some improv ideals, put them in the comments or tweet me @sparkandco, I’d love to hear them.
(Not so) Recently I commented on Twitter about my approach to professional development this year and Steve Flowers (@xpconcept) commented that it made sense in a broader application to instructional design. Then, I saw a tweet from David Kelly (@LnDDave) who was at an #ASTD2012 conference session with Michael Allen. They were presenting their Successive Approximation Method (SAM) as a substitution for ADDIE (poor girl, everyone’s favorite whipping horse), which sounded a lot like a “T” in my mind. A short twitter exchange between Steve and myself led to this…a blog post idea. And now, hopefully a few weeks later a blog post!
What is a “T-shaped” instructional design process?
As ADDIE is a waterfall method, which allows you to go deeper only when you’ve completed the various hurdles in the step you are on, a T-shaped method favours breadth before depth. You’d look at the aspects of it, going deeper once you have a good overview of all elements (will try to describe elements here), then you flesh it out more fully. With the rapid development tools available, committing to everything in paper up front is not realistic, however, you need to start with paper before you move to digital. I think it is best used as a project framework, but one that is iterative.
My “T” would look something like this (it’s version 1, will tinker with it to see how it fits):
Once the basics of analysis are done: Audience, Concept, Outcomes, & Tech
Then the core of the product (visual, interaction and content) is described and would go deeper with each iteration.
So, you start with a good understanding of what it is going to be, how it will all fit together and then you build it. Not so much a full working prototype, but enough of a proof-of-concept that it allows all stakeholders to understand the essence of the outcome.
I’d love some input/feedback. Am I reinventing the wheel here? Is this just the SAM method in a clunkier model?
Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development: Instructional Design and Storytelling, or Instructional Design IN Storytelling
Recently I attended the BC HRMA conference and during a plenary session (Linda Nazerath), she identified productivity as a key economic driver, and suggesting focusing on that would help organizations navigate the still choppy waters of recovery (also known as the new norm, it would seem).
Productivity drivers she identified are: training, technology and innovation. Lucky for me that’s right up my alley.
It was also noted by an audience member that BC ranks low in terms of productivity in Canada (in our defense, it’s because we have so much natural beauty we are frequently distracted, like some kind of “outdoor distraction disorder”, but that’s another post, isn’t it?).
These are my editorial comments on those three things (not a summary of Linda Nazareth’s book/talk).
1. Training – this is not just organizational, and it is not a silver bullet, either.
I see training/education/development as having potential to really increase individual skills and help people do their jobs better. But, I think there is also a lot of bad training out there. Too many organizations over-train and under-support their employees, both in terms of job training and in developmental areas. I want more organizations to embrace performance support. I want more organizations to explore user-generated content. I want more organizations to think outside of the box when it comes to “training”. If not, then it has the opposite effect. People aren’t working, but they ain’t getting better either, so you’ve wasted time AND money. Don’t do that.
Development outside of the workplace could potentially improve collective skills: as a region, province or country what are we learning to shape our future. I am not particularly expert at this, but do think that Dan Pink’s Whole New Mind has some sage advice, and wonder if Jeff Rubin’s insights are helpful as well?
2. Technology – at a macro level, tech can streamline and automate processes, but can also be an expensive bunch of bits without proper training.
First of all, my wish is that organizations would buy better technology and that vendors would make better technology (and focus on who’s going to use it). For example, HRIS and ERP software can be just awful, but we all get “sold” on how powerful the tool is, or what the business case is. However, if it is hard to use, then no amount of training will make it user-friendly. Remember that silk-purse/sow’s ear saying? Once you’ve purchased (the better) software, invest in “user adoption”, help staff know about it and how to use it. Too many organizations skimp on this, and it is short term-ism that will eat away at your technology investment. Also, I love technology, but make sure you do a good job defining your requirements. Bad requirements = mediocre returns.
3. Innovation – dangerously close to faddish, be careful
I hear my clients talk about innovation, some of them have programs or task forces to increase innovation. Sometimes I’m asked about innovation training. I don’t know the whole answer to this, but I would caution people to not chase the notion without taking a hard look at their own organizations first. Too many times I hear about “programs” and “initiatives”, which frankly fail more than they succeed. So, if you are serious about innovation, don’t just buy a book/program/approach, do some soul searching to make sure that you are willing to change, not just pay lip service to it, it means cultural change not programs. Which is a long term evolutionary process. I quite like the Heath brothers’ Switch, which is practical and attainable for most people.
You may find it odd to have a training advocate suggest to not train, but it’s more of a do it right message. Training is often seen as a panacea, when the actual problem is poor feedback, bad job design, crazy processes, lack of tools, or even boredom. Development is a slightly different ballgame, and I think there are a lot of “programs” out there that are touted to be the next greatest thing. Sadly, they are sometimes solutions in search of problems, and organizations love the sales pitch, so they buy it in the hopes that it will have some kind of magical effect.
By all means, focus on productivity gains. Implement training, buy software, seek innovation. Just be smart about it.
A few weeks ago, someonetweeted this link on reducing infections in hospitals. I’m not in the healthcare industry and perhaps there are some downsides to this approach, but for someone who has fully experienced the Knowing-Doing gap, it really caught my attention. The video (a CBC news story) is about 8 minutes long, but I think it’s worth the time.
The simple things in that stand out to me in this video:
- Encourage people to solve the problem themselves
- Stop reminding people to do basic things (“it’s not that people don’t know what to do, it’s that they don’t do it”)
- Use of a code word: “Nurse Jackson” for all to hold each other accountable
- Use reminders that make a difference (administrator who wears scrubs to signal “sterile environment”)
- Takes longer for things to percolate (look for those bright spots, as the Heath brothers might say)
- Front line teams are the change agents
I wondered what the approach was when I first saw the video, but then I went on holiday so thought I’d look it up on my return. A little googling today turned up this: http://www.stopsuperbugs.com/getting-started/get-ready-for-launch/, more information on the Positive Deviance site itself.
Change is hard and messy, but I like models that are action focused and pragmatic.
It also reminded me of a comment that someone made to me about starting a “prospiracy” awhile ago, which I had to look up! It’s…
“…a secret plan by a group to do something beneficial.”
It’s like an underground movement. This person was finding the mainstream too conservative, they were looking for ways to disrupt learning in a positive way. I was intrigued by this and wondered how many others are in the same boat, but are looking for a way to take action instead.
Have you used positive deviance? What’s your take on prospiracy? Do you have other “action-oriented” approached to share?