Any “How Tos” using methods, tools and techniques that you’ve found to work in L&D and Performance Improvement.
Since I am a fan of Guy’s work, I thought I should answer! Now, obviously I don’t work in a typical L&D environment, so this list is somewhat biased. So I mentally ran through memorable projects from the past and looked for the success factors. Besides the best principles I usually advocate, here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve used over the years:
- Engage. Obviously, I wrote a book about this, but some of the quick things I do include:
- embed the decisions they should be making in contexts where they make sense
- as Henry Jenkins put it: “put the player in a role they want to be in”
- exaggerate the context
- minimize the distractions
- hook the learners in emotionally from the start
- Decisions. I find that working with the objectives for learning projects, it’s critical to focus on the decisions that learners will ultimately be making. I argue that what will make the difference for organizations, going forward, will be better decisions. And it keeps the discussion from focusing on knowledge. Knowledge is needed, but it’s not central.
- Brainstorming. When working a strategy session with clients, I seed the discussion before hand with the challenges and background material, and ask that everyone think on their own before we begin collaboration.
- Better ‘Pair and Share’. If, in brainstorming, you should think individually before collectively, so should you do so in all forms. So I trialed a ‘pair and share’ where I asked everyone to:
- think on the questions (asking for 2 things) first,
- then share with another,
- and try to reach agreement
- (I polled the first audience I trialed it on, and they said that the discussion was better, FWIW).
- Shared language. I have found it valuable, when starting a new project, to run a little ‘presentation’ where I present some of the models that I’m bringing to the table (that’s why I‘m there ;), so we’re starting from a shared understanding. And of course I’ve reviewed materials of theirs beforehand so I can use their terminology. Educating clients is part of a Quinnovation engagement!
- Test. In making the Workplace of the Future project with Learnnovators, we were barreling along full tilt, working on the second module, and I was getting increasingly worried about the fact that we hadn’t tested the first. We finally did, relatively informally, but still got valuable feedback that changed our design somewhat. Similarly on other projects, get feedback early and often.
- Visualize. My diagramming bent had me map out the workflow of a client’s production process, to identify opportunities to tweak the process to bring in better learning science with minimal interruption. In general, I will often jump up to the whiteboard and try to represent what I’m hearing to see if it’s shared.
- Prototype. Similar to the above, I will often mock up what I’m thinking about (in sort of a ‘ape with a crayon’ level of fidelity), to help communicate the idea; e.g. some sort of walkthrough. I find that only a percentage of the audience can imagine what the experience will be without getting somewhat concrete. (And, yes, they do then complain about the production values, despite the tradeoff of cost versus value. Sigh.)
- Get the context. I generally try to understand the whole ecosystem (ala ‘the revolution‘) before I engage in specifics. What are the goals, stakeholders, what’s already being done and by whom, etc. It’s important to re-contextualize ‘best principles’, and that requires knowing the context.
- Architecture. Thinking through things using a design thinking approach and a systems-thinking perspective, I’ve tried to think of platforms, not just solutions. It might be content architectures, ecosystem elements, but it’s thinking in terms of systems, not just tactics.
- Pragmatism. One final approach that has been beneficial is thinking about how to approximate the best with a budget. I used to talk about ‘what would you do if you had magic’, and then see how close you can get with the resources to hand. It’s a heuristic that often has led to an innovative yet viable solution.
Looking at them, I see that they generally reflect my overall focus on aligning what we do with how we think, work, and learn. Your thoughts?