Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Just wanted to say “THANKS!”

October 10, 2014 1 comment

Somehow, based on “Social Appeal”, this little blog reached #2 in the rankings at

So – I just wanted to say THANK YOU to anyone and everyone that might have looked, circulated, retweeted or any other social thing. Hugely appreciated.

I’ll try and keep useful and provocative (?) thoughts coming.



Practice vs. “Just Do”

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Currently reading the fabulous and thought-provoking book by Matthew Syed – “Bounce – The myth of talent and the power of practice”, (ISBN 978-00-735054-4, Published by FSC 201/11)

The basic premise is that “talent”, (especially in sports), is mainly related not to something innate, but to the number of hours PRACTICE that someone puts in.  This is illustrated using many examples, which (I have to say), provide a very compelling argument.

So…to the workplace. What does that mean (if anything) for organisational development?

Well for starters, it probably means that “Talent Management” is a misnomer!

Apart from that, what it means  is that to get MEANINGFUL performance increases in staff, they just need to practice and practice at a skill. So – HOW could we, for example, bring those concepts to a sales force?

If the difference between HIGH and LOW performers is practice, (and motivation, which I will not cover here…), then it seems to suggest our courses MUST include REAL examples, and lots of them. In fact, the ratio of “new information” to “practice” is probably skewed HEAVILY in favour of the latter.  I could go so far as to say that, perhaps…the “new information” portion of sales skills courses COULD be covered by eLearning that takes place BEFORE the course?

How many “Case Studies” and “Scenarios” are developed to actually be REALISTIC? I have been ridiculed on a few occasions when I suggested that, for example, a course on closing a sale should run from 0700 in the morning until 0200hrs the next day, with a few minor comfort and meal breaks. THAT is the way that some sales organisations operate at Quarter-end.  If we do not prepare people for this, (and I have only done this sort of thing once in my career), then are we really preparing staff for the real world at all?

To continue the theme of PRACTICE, are we going to allow our accountants to fail at a new technique a over a few iterations, or our R&D people to fail a few times, (whilst practicing…), before they get it “right”? Which organisations actually allow this sort of behaviour to happen?

If this theory is correct, and I have a reasonable amount of faith that the concept has merit, how can we ; seriously get a culture of “practice” into our organisations, rather than a culture of “just do”?

“Just-do” is not necessarily any use – it neither assists with learning, or motivation. Practicing once or twice in the safety of a classroom may be just as useless , as it will inevitably lack many of the elements of “the real world”, (time pressure, surprises, the whims of the customer etc.).

I’m not sure that I know all or any of the answers to any of this, however, one thing I do know is that “Death by PowerPoint” is completely, and utterly pointless, and I will at least be doing my best to play “Devil’s Advocate” when being asked to produce client learning interventions, if there is a slight amount of doubt in my mind as to the eventual efficacy.

Until next time…

The Magic of Instructional Design – Thought #8: Less Content Please…

November 21, 2010 2 comments

Back to some similarities between Instructional Design and Close-up Magic!

There is a classic card trick called “The Ambitious Card”.  A card, (usually signed by the spectator to prove it is not a “fake”) keeps on re-appearing at the top of a pack of cards held by the magician. The magician replaces it in the middle of the cards; it appears again, and again, and again, many phases – sometimes ad nauseum…

When the magician has finally proved his/her knowledge of, and competence in card sleights the ends the routine with the card appearing in a novel way, often in a novel place. The only problem is that many laypeople/spectators have had enough around a quarter of the way through.

There is a lot of existing material about learning SMEs, and their propensity to believe course consumers need and want to know as much as they do. Learning and magic are not about throwing endless “stuff” at people just because you or your SME thinks it is interesting. Think about what the audience needs, as a minimum, and give them that. Anything else that supports the learning can be a link, a web object, a User Tab or an Attachment of some sort. Sometimes, a client or course sponsor demands more in the course. Sometimes we should acquiesce; sometimes it is our “duty” to explain that “less is more”, rather than accepting that “more is more”, (or in this case “Moore is More”). Cathy Moore has a fantastic view on this at

I guess my point is this…..sometimes it’s OK to have an eLearning or classroom course cover just one learning point, quickly. We should not be fearful that, in some way, we are short-changing our audience or our sponsor. Recently, I asked a course sponsor whether we could add some more material to an eLearning course, as it was only 8-slides long. He mailed me back saying, (and I paraphrase…) “It’s OK, this is not a complex subject, this is good material, it’s enough – you taught me that“. It was nice to have someone remind me of my own point of view and beliefs 🙂

I recently performed the “Ambitious Card” with one-phase only. I had a card chosen and signed, the card was signed, put back on top of the rest of the cards. I cut the cards, and completed the cut, and the card was back on top. My audience loved it. I had just proved the futility of shuffling with another trick, and now I had just proved the futility of cutting.

Perhaps we can get our learning audiences to like us more if we just remember to give them less.

Hello world!

September 6, 2010 2 comments

OK – not exactly an “early adopter”, but I appear to be blogging nonetheless… I am going to be posting on all things related to “Instructional Design” – building courses, (especially online ones, my speciality), thinking about how to make courses interesting, and frankly, anything else about corporate training that takes my fancy.

Hope you find what I have to say some use too.


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