Imagine if …… #5

llapproach-copyThis is the approach that we take at How to Accelerate Learning. Many other people do too (without calling it that!). In this blog series we will be looking at each of the 6 parts of the Learning Loop approach. So imagine …. what if, YOU were to take this approach:

Number 5: There is an explicit and practical objective setting process

Lewis Carroll said in Alice though the looking glass “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there”.  

“Setting goals is the first step to making the invisible visible” said Tony Robbins

These two quotations really resonate with me and my background in engineering. As an engineer, I would never have embarked on a project without first determining what the outcomes were going to be. Working for Esso one summer as a student, we investigated how pure the ethyl alcohol needed to be for different industries, so we knew which markets to head into. So why as L&D professionals are there at times no clear goals?

During a workshop a few years back, we were looking at how to set objectives and one participant asked if I have a process …. and if I did would I write it down for him. So for the benefit of Steve Patterson, here is that very process…..30 Templates To Sell - 43

 

 

Would you like to know more about this approach? Then you have some choices:

Crying in the bank

tear
I don’t often write blogs of a personal nature, but today I cried in the bank and I don’t think that is anything anyone should have to go though. This story does link into customer service training and whether an organisation really tries to understand it customers (or not!), so I felt it worth sharing.

My dad is 84 and just over 18 months ago was diagnosed with Alzheimers. I could go on about how difficult things are for my mum and the family, but I am sure you can imagine. One problem that is recurring, is forgetting his pin number or losing his card. Having taken the time (5 months) and used the legal profession to sort out Lasting Power Attorney(LPOA), I thought it would be straightforward to be able to help out with their banking.

At the moment that would mean:

  • Reordering a new PIN or a new card
  • Transferring money between accounts if needed

It took 5 trips to the bank before I was given ALL the correct information:

  • I did not need my parents with me
  • It did not have to be at their branch
  • I needed to bring in the full 17 page document for LPOA to photocopy not just the notification
  • I needed two (not just one) forms of identification with my address to verify who I was
  • Signing a form to say my dad was not mentally capable of conducting his financial affairs meant his card would be cancelled (he can still go to the autoteller and take money out)

So why did I cry today? Yesterday my dad tried to take some money out and his card was declined, he thought he had typed in the wrong PIN number. My brother then took him in the evening and realised the PIN was not incorrect but the card was declined. My dad was upset because he does not know why he is not “allowed” to do certain things any more – he has always done all the banking for him and my mum. I phoned the bank and could not access the telephone banking.

After 2 phone calls I was put onto the fraud team who asked me questions to take me through security (obviously), but I could not tell them what direct debits mum and dad have or standing orders on their account (because I don’t use their account other that when they ask). I was told to go into my nearest branch (in Otley, Yorkshire and my parents live in Rochdale) with 2 forms of identification because they could not say why the account was under fraud investigation or why my dads card had been declined.

Full of a cold and feeling frazzled I waited in line while they investigated and then explained. No one said sorry….. Two bank transfers via telephone, attempted by me, but authorised by my parents had been viewed as suspicious, meaning the account was being handled by the fraud team. No one got in touch to ask what the amounts were and if they were okay. Signing a form to say my dad was not capable of handing his financial affairs meant his card was blocked. No one had explained this would happen, as I had explained my dad can still go and get money from the auto teller.

Another form came – this time I had to sign it to say my dad is mentally capable, so that he can use his bank card. I tried to explain how hard it was to see this in such black and white terms. I tried to say how hard it is to make decisions on behalf of a man, with diminishing capability, who was my hero growing up. To see him fade away and struggle with the simplest of tasks. When he saw me cry, Edmund told me not to be upset. I tried to say I already was and really nothing he could do or say could stop that.

Here are the three things, that I believe need fixing in the banking system to avoid this happening time and time again(I don’t believe that it is not happening on a  daily basis):

  • Banks need to be aware that sometimes suspicious amounts of money leaving an account are not always fraudulent and treat people as if they were innocent first, guilty when proved to be so
  • Security checks need to be appropriate to the person calling, taking into consideration if they have full access to an account
  • The understanding that with dementia patients, there may not be an absolute cut off point when someone is mentally incapable and that their dignity should be as much as possible maintained

Today I read that in 2015 Lloyds Bank had one an award for their work in making their services more dementia friendly. So I would ask anyone reading this, to share this story in their network . This is not some case study to mull over or find a solution for, but real lives that need others to be more empathetic and understanding when dealing with the simple every day thing of managing your money, when you have dementia.

If anyone would like to know which bank this happened in it was Barclays.

 

OOPs I designed it again

HTAL - 14OOPS I designed it again – how to avoid reinventing the wheel in learning design

Would you like to make design of learning interventions easy? Would you like to be able to reuse activities so that design becomes much more modular? Would you like to design multiple programmes quickly and tailor for specific groups of performers? So in this article I will introduce to you a methodology not dissimilar to something used in programming, which helps you to achieve this.

Some of you may already know this but my first degree was in Chemical Engineering and Fuel Technology. As part of my degree we learnt how to program in Fortran and basic. This was to be very helpful when 6 years later I made a career change and became an IT trainer.

Just lately I have been making connections with a certain type of programming and how I have been developing the Learning Loop, a brand new way to do Train-the-trainer. When I first launched the Learning Loop Programme, I promised it to be:

  • Tailored to the individuals attending
  • Activity led and not content driven
  • Suitable for L&D people of any level of skill or experience
  • Creative and business focused

Object Oriented Programming (OOP) requires a different mind set. Instead of using the traditional approach to programming, where you start at the beginning and work your way through to writing the (sometimes unwieldy) programme, you start to recognize parts that are reusable and generic. Thus coding becomes more about using those generic parts and then adding the odd bit of customized code. This principal can also be applied to designing learning interventions.

When creating a new Learning Loop for an open workshop or a new client, it always starts with the objectives- making sure they are SMART using Robert Magers’ PCS framework. Once the objectives have been outlined then the design can begin. Initially there would be more design, but now every time I run a new workshop, after writing the objectives I can then reuse a good deal of the activities. The key is in determining the correct level and scope of the learning – whether it is skills, knowledge or attitudinal. Not designing too broadly is also key, then you can mix and match activities from the library you create over time.

HTAL - 13This can be applied to designing multiple leadership programmes for different levels of leader. Write clear learning outcomes from the organisational ones.  Select from your library the generic activities you can use at each level. Select for the higher levels additional learning activities and maybe then also design some new additional ones required to tailor at each level.

If you would like help to use this approach, then get in touch for a free 30 minute telephone consultation today: info@howtoacceleratelearning.co.uk

 

A blogy about Andragogy…..(it’s an adult learning thing)

the-learning-loop-3I very recently attended a  Learning Loop event delivered by Krystyna Gadd (I’d highly recommend it) and it’s really made me think about something in particular…

What’s different about how we learn as adults compared to when we were nippers? Is there anything different?

I’ve pondered this for years. And particularly so after observing a family member’s experience of taking on a Higher Education course.This family member (let’s call her Audrey to protect the innocent), at the time was taking on the daunting mission of doing a degree level course to further her career, as well as holding down a very demanding full time role and running a household with accompanying kids and other trimmings.

Now Audrey, I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, isn’t your naturally academic type. I say this with all due respect, as I am also not the type to take to that ‘study’ thing easily. This doesn’t mean we’re not good at it, but perhaps we’re both more inclined to learn from experience and real life. And therein lies the point. Which we’ll come back to in a mo…..

Back to Audrey’s experience. She’s at University doing all the expected stuff; attending lectures, writing assignments, reading books, endlessly regurgitating references, quotes, theories, models… All pretty one-dimensional if you ask me. Then to add to this ‘flat’ way of studying, there seemed to be little in the way of learning support. On asking a tutor to clarify an element on a task, the response she got was in the realms of, “Well if you don’t know the answer to that yourself, then you shouldn’t be here”.

I was suitably outraged; raving on about how a learning/teaching professional should know better. How the fact that the learners are adults shouldn’t mean that their experience shouldn’t be enjoyable and multi-faceted. I found it very hard to swallow.

The Learning Loop - 18So ever since, it’s made me think; Why don’t we apply the same principles with adult learning as we do with children’s learning?  Do our brains really change so much that we suddenly become more comfortable with theory and reading and tell, tell, tell as opposed to playing, testing, multi-sensory experiencing?

The answer, it seems, is both yes and no. Cue, Krys’s Learning Loop……Enter Andragogy and Pedagogy. No, these are not characters in Welsh mythology. Simply put, Andragogy is about the principles of adult learning and Pedagogy is about kids’ learning.There IS a difference between how we learn as adults versus kids.

Here’s very briefly why(from Malcolm Knowles Andragogy)

  • Adults are more self-directed and self-evaluating and also able to assess progress or learning gaps
  • As we age, we naturally acquire experience which we tap into as a resource when learning
  • Adults learn in context of what’s real to them and rationalise or judge the learning based on that reality

We encourage children to play in order to learn. Isn’t there something in that when we consider adult learning?I’m not saying we all need to start kicking around in sandpits, getting play-doh in our hair or raiding the dressing up box (although that all sounds pretty fun to me). For me, this is exactly where Accelerated Learning comes in. Done well, it gives us the opportunity to enrich the learning experience. To test and play around with things. To put them in context of our reality. To hear, see and feel the learning.

FacilitatorOne of the 5 Secrets that Krystyna reveals in her Learning Loop is to be a FACILITATOR as opposed to a traditional TRAINER. For me this really resonates. Facilitating learning is very different from being someone who’s just imparting knowledge. It’s about providing an interactive, brain-friendly, varied environment where people are able discover and create learning.  I’ve always seen my role as giving people the best, most appealing opportunity possible to learn and stretch themselves. That means learners can then choose how much they’d like to put in, and therefore gain from the experience.

And that is exactly why Accelerated Learning is so effective. It seeks to make the experience valuable, high impact and lasting. It enables us to create the learning for ourselves in a way that MEANS something to us and that we can APPLY. 

 

Less bravery L&D and more curiosity I say!

A wPeople - 65hile ago I wrote a series of blogs with a tag of “Being Brave”  but after an LPI meeting this week for Learning Provider Connect, I have had a chance to rethink this “bravery”.

It occurred to me that the minute you start speaking about being brave, to some people it may have the effect of making them fearful. That this very encouragement, could have the opposite effect and instigate that “paralysis” we sometimes experience when we are afraid.

What I have encouraged in the past, is for L&D to be brave and to:

  • Ask more questions
  • Dig deeper and find out more about the organisation
  • Don’t take at face value what the stakeholders see as “facts” – questiPeople - 66on it all!

So what I am proposing, is not in fact bravery, but curiosity! A real nosiness about what is happening, not happening, on the horizon etc.

So what would that look like?

Here is a scenario, that happens all too often:

Stakeholder to trainer: Hi, we need some training fast and lets put everyone though it!

Trainer to Stakeholder: Sure I can help, just tell me what you want

Following this might ensue some conversations about the who, what, when and where, but what I am suggesting is an alternative.

“Adopt an air of curiosity”

Stakeholder to trainer: Hi, we need some training fast and lets put everyone though it!

Trainer to Stakeholder: That’s interesting, I wonder if I could just have 10 minutes of your time to dig deeper to help you solve your problem and to come up with a solution that has measurable impact?

Stakeholder to trainer: That sounds interesting…. yes of course I can do it now…

Trainer to Stakeholder: So tell me more about what has been happening, I am really interested to know what has prompted this request?

To me the second scenario does not take bravery, but curiosity. So go on L&D get nosey! Find out more about what is going on behind the scenes.  Ask questions… then ask more questions until you really find out what is at the bottom of it. Who knows what you will uncover?

 

Make it real – use your senses….. Guest Blog by Stella Collins

 

search.jpgI am very pleased to introduce to you, (drum roll…..) Stella Collins, author of “Neuroscience for L&D” and Creative Director of Stellar Learning. Stella knows lots of great practical stuff about the brain that can help people to learn better, with more retention and in this blog will be discussing the use of your senses! Stella’s brain friendly approach fits in perfectly with our approach using the 5 secrets of accelerated learning, where the 5th secret is about the brain and how it learns the best. So here are Stella’s thoughts……

Make it real – use your senses!

The Learning Loop - 18Do you ever read or hear something which makes you almost feel you’d been there yourself?  Then there are other times when you hear or read something and whilst you know all the words make sense and  the language is clear, somehow you just don’t quite ‘get it’- it seems a bit abstract, flat, hard to get a handle on?

Perhaps it’s because the abstract information isn’t rich enough for you to get a concrete, textural, sonorous, colourful, vibrant vision of the information.  Perhas there just isn’t quite enough going on in your brain to make it real and you’re relying on using your energy hungry pre-frontal cortex to analyse it.

When information comes to us directly through our senses we have a rich, complex mixture of information spreading throughout our brains.  I once heard we receive over 2 billion bits of information a second.  You have a visual cortex, auditory cortex, motor cortex,  an olfactory bulb for a sense of smell and part of your parietal lobe to process taste allowing a rich body of information to be processed throughout  your brain.  But when information is like this – just words – there is no direct sense  associated with them (just like in this sentence).  Which makes it harder for you or your audience to comprehend because there’s nothing very tangible to process.

There’s now research to back up what great speakers and writers have always known – using language that paints a picture, rings true or feels solid is making your brain work almost as if the sensory information is really there; which literally makes it easier to make sense of.

Researchers tested  what happened in subjects’ brains when they were touching rough textures like sandpaper.  They saw that specific parts of the brain were stimulated  when people feel texture in the real world.  Next they asked subjects to listen to short sentences containing textural metaphors such as ‘a rough day’ or ‘a slimy person’ and found that the same brain areas were activated.

So if you’re  training or sharing information use metaphors, stories, sensory based language because it’s really creating extraordinary sensations  in your audience’s head.  They will grasp your meaning, see your point or hear you out more easily – and remember it for longer too.

Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3318916/

Measure at all costs?

IMG_2532Measuring stuff in L&D is good and I am an advocate of using data to inform your decision making as well as demonstrating your worth. So is it a case of just measuring everything and it’s bound to be useful? For anyone who knows us and our approach, you know the answer to that already!

Here is what measurement I know happens already, in many places:

  • Number of people completed training, either face to face or online
  • Test scores from online quizzes
  • Amount of time taken for elearning and “engagement” during learning
  • Number of “no-shows” on courses
  • Number of training hours per year company wide

My question is “Does any of this help to improve performance?” The answer may be that sometimes training is not a performance issue but a compliance issue. The training has to be done, so we need to know how many hours we complete per year and do it in the most efficient way. Fair enough! If you have to do the training, make sure it’s effective and done in the most efficient way to not waste money.

What about measuring all these things when it’s related to performance? I can see value in this only if a good analysis has been done beforehand to:

  • Rule out issues that cannot be solved by training (poor systems, processes or lack of resources etc)
  • Identify the right stakeholders to work with, who will support you and put measures in place to measure the effectiveness
  • Determine the organisational outcomes that need to be met, with the appropriate stakeholders providing resources and support
  • Define learning outcomes that are geared towards improving performance and are both observable and measurable
  • Put in place follow up by line managers before the learning starts and performers know what they are going to get out of the learning before they attend

This sort of “joined-up” L&D, makes learning everyone’s responsibility and it also means that measurement is not just L&D’s responsibility.  It means that “learners” are transformed into “performers”. It means that those measures listed at the top of the page could be used to inform which methods have had the most engagement (not that that is always an indicator for success!)It would be wrong, I believe to suggest that good engagement with one successful cohort will guarantee the same success in another cohort.

To my thinking, any suggestion that there could be some sort of permanent link between engagement and performance misses the point entirely. In a closed system like a chemical plant, where putting in the same chemicals at the same rate with the same process can produce expected, achievable results. Learning is not however a closed system: the variables are always changing as are the participants and the influences on their behaviour. The true measure, in my opinion has to be what measurable differences the learning has made to the performance of an individual. How have customer complaints reduced? Income increased? Sales boosted? A one time analysis is not the answer because things change. So analyse, plan, implement and measure, then round again to make sure you are capturing the “now” and not the “yesterday”.

So am I in L&D Narnia, expecting the impossible? Measuring the unmeasurable? Quite simply, I believe that before investing in learning and merely measuring “engagement” dig, dig and dig deeper to find out what is missing and what you will need to learn and do to make changes. Keep asking why? Until you have some sensible answer other than “why not?”

What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

190216_Kirsty_0411 Logo-Light-BkI have great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kirsty Lewis of the School of Facilitation as a guest blogger. She is an expert in facilitation and so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on what it means to be a facilitator rather than a trainer (the second of the 5 secrets of accelerated learning)

 

What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

This was the questions posed to me by Krystyna Gadd earlier this week and it got me thinking, is there a difference?  What is it?  What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?

Here are some simple definitions:

A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’

A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’

Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge.  There may be a test to check understanding

A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining.  A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.

A quote I found suggests:

“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”

This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings).  Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable?  In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities.

I noticed I shifted inside when I started to facilitate.  I learnt to trust the process I had designed.  I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group.  One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly.  No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen.  I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.

Here are my thoughts about some of the skills, behaviours and beliefs for a facilitator:

Skills

  • Creating a container that is safe, enables people to express their ideas and opinions, learn
  • Fantastic questioning skills to create engagement and probe understanding
  • Listen to what is and isn’t said
  • Sense into the energy of the group to adjust, move or continue
  • Innately understand people ie EQ
  • Decent flipchart creations!

Behaviours & Beliefs

  • Open and curious to what is
  • Adaptable
  • A deep belief in what they do
  • A passion for their role in the room

I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share.  If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.

Facilitator

The 2nd of my 5 secrets of accelerated learning – double click to see more detail

 

Classroom training is pants…. (well not always but sometimes)

lucy-hayward copyIt is such a pleasure to have Lucy Hayward, one of our associates as a guest blogger again. She is an expert in a number of areas, but has been doing some work in Performance Management recently so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on the subject. Of course she had to mention pants!!

 

Classroom Training is PANTS!!! (Well not always, but sometimes.)Pictures - 61

 Hang on a minute, before I talk myself out of a job – please let me explain…..

Recently I’ve been facilitating some workshops on Performance Management. The workshops look at the whole process from recruitment through to conducting formal reviews and uses drama based learning to bring it to life. Lots of fun to facilitate and very informative for the managers involved!

Once we’ve worked through setting clear and measurable objectives and get to the section about “Supporting Performance and Development”. The thing that continues to surprise me, is that no matter how experienced or forward thinking the managers are. They are still relying on scheduled classroom training as the go-to for all learning and development requests from their staff.

But what happens when this “one size fits all” approach of prescribing training doesn’t work or what if there’s just no budget for classroom training?

From listening to the manager’s responses, this usually means their teams don’t receive the development they require. Staff engagement and morale take a bit of a dive, their individual performance dives with it and the overall department ends up at risk of not hitting target!

Granted, a lot of this is due to the heavy workloads and tight time constraints that today’s managers are working to and sometimes it’s just down to a lack of knowledge as to what alternative solutions are on offer!

The GOOD NEWS is there are loads of GREAT ALTERNATIVE LEARNING SOLUTIONS!

In today’s world of Learning & Development we have so many options that can open-up the exciting world of learning to so many people.

One of the exercises we do as part of this workshop is to write down as many ways of learning you can think of in just 2 minutes…you would be amazed at how many there are!

Go on, have a go at doing it yourself…. How many did you get? 10? 20? 50?

Here’s a few to start you off (you’re very welcome). In the workshop, we get up to 90!!

  • Coaching/Mentoring
  • Lunch and Learns
  • Buddying/Peer learning groups/job shadowing/secondments
  • Writing Blogs/articles
  • On-line learning/join a forum
  • Reading/Self-study/Book clubs
  • Ted Talks/Pod casts
  • YouTube videos
  • Delegating tasks & projects
  • Action Learning Sets
  • Seminars/conferences/networking

How many of these do managers know about and how many do they make available to their staff on a regular basis?

So, the question I want to ask you all is…

When it comes to Performance Management and getting the best out of your teams is the traditional classroom offering always the answer to development requests?

Sometimes Yes, absolutely it is… I’m a facilitator who passionately believes in the benefits of trainer led workshops. I use accelerated learning techniques to ensure they’re linked directly to the organisational needs, they’re results focused and enjoyable for the individual learners. I love my job and the feedback I receive from individuals and organisations lets me know I’m doing it well!

But as managers, you can take control and explore the other (sometimes more cost effective) options. Try creating a learning culture within your teams and encouraging your staff to book an hour out of their day to study! Allowing your teams to access learning materials online so they can take ownership and responsibility for their own learning and development. Empowerment is the key!

Who knows it could take off and spread across the whole organisation…

 

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