Thursday, August 19, 2010

Taking Chances

I've permitted myself to learn and to fail with some regularity. And that is probably the one thing I was given, and that I'm still grateful for.
                                     - John Malkovich

A short while ago, I presented an idea to one of my customers that was clearly "outside of their box."    They were producing training materials by copying select portions out of user guides into slide decks.  After 10 minutes of studying this mess I could not imagine why they had not had a daily mass exodus from their training center.

I knew these people were not there to hear "selected readings" but to get an idea of how they could make their jobs better.  So I trashed the idea of the User Guide Cut & Paste and started a new document with these parts:
  • page references to important sections
  • diagrams illustrating work flows and important thought processes
  • lots of fill in the blank sections reflecting what the instructor was discussing
It was clearly a shock to the system.  The conversation went something like:

"Will this work?"

"I don't know. Try it."

Training is like people and a recipe.  Organizations have different tastes.  Recipes need to be tweaked.  Even Thomas Keller doesn't get it perfect the first time.

But one thing was certain, replacing lecture with activities was the best starting point they had.

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